The weakest aspect of this release is the one that is seen first - the cover. In some ways it's largely irrelevant - it's the content and the look of the film which really matter. Even so, it's a lousy first impression, the cloudy sky background and the bright light seeping through the gaps between the figures in the main still, give the cover a floaty ethereal feel that is very different from the down to earth Jesus the film so excellently portrays.
Cover art aside, it's a very good DVD. Having had this film on a pan-and-scan VHS for years, the wide-screen aspect ratio and the far crisper print are much appreciated.
One of the biggest attractions of any special edition DVD is the audio commentary. This one features (executive) director Derek Hayes and producer Naomi Jones. There's plenty of interesting discussion, which centres around the relationship between the Welsh Cartwn Cymru animation company and their Russian counterparts Christmas Films. Having clarified early on in the commentary how the workload was split between the two groups of animators (Cartwn Cymru did the 2D work and some CGI, Christmas Films did the 3D puppetry), there are various anecdotes surrounding how the two companies worked together. I couldn't help feeling that the Russian company came out of those stories looking a bit behind the times.
There are various other details as well. I've always felt this film was well researched and the commentary provides strong support for that theory. The explanation behind why the story starts in Sepphoris, for example, will be illuminating for many. Technical information is in good supply too with details about how the mouths were animated, and how the voices were recorded both being discussed.
The other features are good as well. The "Making Of" documentary lasts for about half an hour and covers some of the same material that is discussed in the audio commentary. It's real strength is the footage it gives you. It's part interesting and part spooky to see figures familiar from the film reduced to lifeless, incomplete models.
There's also a storyboard to film comparison. Rather than playing this next to the final product, or allowing viewers to flick between the two using the "angle" button on their handsets, the pictures changes automatically. This is much easier to watch, and allows us to see more of the detail than we would with the side by side comparison.
Strangely there are no trailers for the film. The trailers advertised on the box (and on various websites) turn out to be for other programmes aimed at children. It's rather tedious flicking through with them, and it's a shame that the theatrical trailers for The Miracle Maker aren't included.
Lastly there are two "interactive games". These are essentially quizzes, and I would imagine they are aimed at older children. Since the film is used a lot in educational settings this makes good sense, and is a nice addition.
A film like this deserved a decent treatment, and it's good to see that it has finally been given it.