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The age of epics: Kenneth Turan's DVD picks of the week

December 10, 2012|By Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times Film Critic

With home entertainment systems featuring screens as big as the Ritz, it’s a good time to look at some recent DVD and Blu-ray releases of celebrated epics from the recent past.

At the top of everyone’s list of intelligent epics is David Lean’s Oscar best picture-winning "Lawrence of Arabia," newly released in a handsome 50th anniversary box that includes a new 4K restoration of the film as one of its trio of Blu-ray discs. There's also an 88-page hardcover book and an actual 70mm film frame, but the movie itself is the reason to take this home.

Another visual masterwork celebrating an anniversary is Ridley Scott’s mind-bending "Blade Runner." Warner Bros. is marking the film's 30th anniversary with DVD and Blu-ray sets. If you don't already own this enormously influential film, this might be an opportune moment to change that.

Though "Blade Runner" was not well-received on its initial release, it had less trouble than Michael Cimino's 1980 "Heaven's Gate," starring Kris Kristofferson, Isabelle Huppert and Christopher Walken in a large-scale western set in 1890s Wyoming. Heartily dismissed back in the day, "Heaven's Gate" has slowly worked its way into critical favor, and there is no surer sign of that than its being selected for the prestigious kind of DVD release only the folks at Criterion can provide.

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