Considering the filmís production background (it was shot over a week or so every year over 12 years with the same cast) thereís no shock that the supplements we do get focus quite heavily on this aspect, but somewhat surprising is how the supplements get quite heavy themselves, everyone reflecting on the passage of time and how the film works as a document of sorts. First up on disc one is a very thorough audio commentary, exclusive to this edition, featuring director Richard Linklater along with producer Cathleen Sutherland, editor Sandra Adair, coproducer and first assistant director Vince Palmo Jr., production designer Rodney Becker, costume designer Kari Perkins, casting director Beth Sepko-Lindsey, and actors Marco Perella, Libby Villari, and Andrew Villarreal. The participants were all recorded together though some appear or drop out throughout.
The track is very technical, focusing primarily on how the film was planned, filmed, and constructed over its 12-year period, including the planning around all of the possible problems that could come up, from debating on whether they should buy a huge amount of film stock in case they wouldnít be able to get the same stuff twelve years later, to what would happen if IFC (who, crazily, agreed to do this film) went belly up, or even, heaven forbid, if certain cast members were unable to do the film anymore. There are a lot of anecdotes and stories from the set, but the track is easily most interesting when theyíre talking about editing the film, which was done as they filmed. Most surprisingly is the fact that there isnít a lot of deleted footage as the tight schedules (really, just a few days every year) didnít allow for a lot of excess filming. Things were tightly planned and they stuck to it (it is mentioned that most of the material was actually cut from the first year, and unfortunately thatís not to be found here). And itís funny at times to hear how things didnít always turn out as planned: Linklater of course wanted to work in technology to show the changes over the years, working them into the story somehow, but the one thing Linklater figured would change drastically were automobiles, and there was some disappointment when capturing all these vehicles over the years didnít produce much of an effect since there werenít any drastic changes, at least in looks. Itís of course a long track, spanning the entire film, but itís filled to the brim with material and is well worth the time listening to.
Criterion thankfully places the remaining supplements on a separate single-layer Blu-ray disc, allowing the lengthy film to breathe nicely on its own disc. The second disc starts with a 49-minute video journal of sorts, Twelve Years, documentingóto a limited extent of courseóeach year of filming. Though it can repeat some things from the commentary (intentions with the film, casting decisions, how world events worked their way in, Linklaterís daughter asking for her character to be killed off, etc.) we get first hand interviews with the cast and crew at the time of filming, with the added bonus of seeing everybody, especially Linklater, age before our eyes. The film obviously became a very personal experience for everyone, Arquette being especially affected by things (and this shows up in other features on this release as well). Iím actually surprised itís so short and it feels it could be substantially longer, but paired with the commentary (and then everything else on the release) I guess it is, in the end, a very well put together collage of the filmís shoot over the years.
Next producer John Pierson moderates over Linklater and actors Patricia Arquette and Ellar Coltrane for a new 57-minute group discussion entitled Memories of the Present. With Pierson chiming in every once in a while the other three talk about the experience of making the film, covering some of the same ground covered in the commentary by Linklater and others, though in a more personal manner. While Linklater talks a bit more in detail about how he was able to get funding for this film, the planned structure of it, and what it was like working on other big features only to keep coming back to this one, the three still talk about the whole venture as an experience, the impact it has had on their lives, and that surreal moment when they realized it was all over (Arquette seems to have taken it hardest). The added details about the production make the feature worthwhile but I appreciated it more for that more personal perspective about the experience.
Criterion then includes yet another discussion, this time between Coltrane and Ethan Hawke, found under Always Now. This 30-minute discussion feels a bit like an add-on to the previous feature, with Hawke sharing his own experiences with the film (while also making other films with Linklater during the same time period) and the two talking about their scenes together. Hawke had a more Zen-like experience with the filmócalling it a ďpureĒ experienceósince it was so far outside of the mainstream way of making films. Iím not sure why Hawke didnít participate in the previous interview but whatever the reason this discussion with Hawke manages to get more out of Coltrane about the experience and even his own contributions to the story. Iím assuming scheduling conflicts prevented Hawke from participating in the other interview but I liked the route this one goes on its own.
Michael Koresky next provides a visual essay narrated by Coltrane entitled Time of Your Life, which focuses on Linklaterís use of time in his films, whether it be making an audience feel the time pass like in Slacker and Dazed and Confused, two films that focus on events over the course of the day, or exploring characters over a long period time, like with Boyhood and the Before Trilogy. Koresky even explores the autobiographical nature of Boyhood and how its protagonist follows a similar path like Linklaterís path to becoming a filmmaker. Itís only 12-minutes long but itís an incredibly insightful feature.
Though all of the features so far touch on or explore time in both terms of the filmís lengthy production and within the film itself (with even more heavy subject matter like mortality creeping in), it gets far heavier in the next feature, Through the Years, a compilation of the on-set photos photographer Matt Lankes took over the course of the production, which included getting portrait shots of the cast and crew every year (these photos were actually used for the cover art of this release). The photos he took were also used for his book ďBoyhood: Twelve Years on Film.Ē Criterion also gets members of the crew and cast to read excerpts from their own notes they wrote for the book, sharing their thoughts on the film and what happened in their lives while making this film. Itís fascinating watching this compilation of photos chronicling the years while getting more personal stories of the experience from other members of the crew.
Criterion then includes an actual booklet featuring an essay by Jonathan Lethem, who expands a bit on Koreskyís visual essay in terms of how the film relates to Linklaterís other films in exploring the passage of time. Though I was a bit annoyed at the large number of appendices I thought it was a good read.
The two big features on the previous Paramount Blu-ray, a short making-of and footage from a Q&A session, are both missing. This isnít a big deal, though, as the features here more than cover the content found in those.
Itís an impressive set of features, well thought out and very insightful, reaching to be more than the usual making-of material, even including a couple of strong academic supplements. A really solid upgrade over the Paramount edition. 9/10