Based on Alan LeMay's novel, John Wayne and director John Ford forged an indelible saga of the frontier and the men and women who challenged it. Ethan Edwards (Wayne) is an ex-Confederate who sets out to find his niece (Wood), captured by the Comanches who massacred his family. He won't surrender to hunger, thirst, the elements or loneliness. In his obsessive quest, Ethan discovers something unexpected: his own humanity. One of the most influential movies ever made, The Searchers is a "brilliant fusing of editing, camerawork and performance."
Special features include an introduction by Patrick Wayne; commentary by Peter Bogdanovich; 30 minutes with Martin Scorsese, Curtis Hanson, and John Milius discussing the importance and influence of this film; a 33-minute behind-the-scenes featurette; four Behind The Cameras featurettes: Meet Jeffrey Hunter, Monument Valley, Meet Natalie Wood, and Setting Up Production; and theatrical trailers.
The restoration of this classic film to the 1.78:1, VC-1-encoded HD DVD picture is superb, with very good detail in the imagery, solid blacks, and relatively natural hues. Shadow delineation can be wanting at times, but blacks are deep and contrast is impressive, which really can create a nice dimensionality in the picture. The source element seems to have been cleaned up fairly well, with only hints of dirt and dust showing up from time to time. This is a very good example of how good transfers of older films can look in high-definition. (Danny Richelieu)
The Dolby® Digital Plus 1.0-channel mono encoding sounds very good for its age, although fidelity is understandably limited. Depth is adequate in the mono soundtrack, but the lack of any real dimensionality does remove from the experience. The noise floor is quite low, although there is some rustling distortion that can be heard at times. (Danny Richelieu)