Backdraft Still Lights Up After 20 Years

Backdraft Still Lights Up After 20 Years

Static Mass Rating: 4/5

Release date: January 24th 2011
Certificate (UK): 15
Running time: 132 minutes
Year of production: 1991

Director: Ron Howard

Cast: Kurt Russell, William Baldwin, Robert De Niro, Donald Sutherland, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Scott Glenn, Rebecca de Mornay, J. T. Walsh

Ron Howard leaves behind his Happy Days to direct this thriller about a team of Chicago fire-fighters trying to find an arsonist before he sets the whole city on fire.

Kurt Russell and William Baldwin play brothers Stephen and Brian McCaffret who follow in their late father’s footsteps to become fire-fighters, although Brian does it after years of knocking around from one job to the next. The brothers don’t exactly see eye to eye and Stephen doesn’t think Brian has what it takes to be a fireman like him.


After a bad day on the job, Brian decides to change jobs again and work as a fire inspector, but as they are both trying to find out who’s responsible for the recent fires, they have to put aside their differences and work together. Especially as the arsonist could be a fire-fighter in Stephen’s unit.

Backdraft boasts an impressive supporting cast including Robert De Niro as arson investigator Donald Rimgale and Donald Sutherland as arsonist Ronald Bartel doing time for his crimes. Both put in very good performances, but they, along with Russell and Baldwin, are almost upstaged by the spectacle of blazing fires.

For this Blu-ray release, Ron Howard delivers a special 2 minute 52 second introduction in which he talks briefly about the main feature and special features included on the disc which, in his words, give “a little deeper insight into how the film was made”.


There is a good quarter of an hour’s worth of deleted scenes including Brian getting ready for his interview, the graduation ceremony, a woman who enjoys the attention of fire-fighters, Stephen massaging his leg and again, Brian late on his first day and having to catch the train.


  • Intro by Ron Howard
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Igniting the Story
  • Bringing the Team Together
  • The Explosive Stunts
  • Creating the Villain: The Fire
  • Real-Life Firemen
  • Real-Life Stories

As for featurettes, there are quite a few. Igniting the Story (15 minutes) has Ron Howard telling of how the story came together. Bringing The Team Together (19 minutes) includes cast members such as William Baldwin and Jennifer Jason Leigh recalling their time on set.

All together, it’s a very good assembling of cast and crew sharing their stories and more deleted scenes that’s usually found for a film that’s 20 years old which puts some other recent Blu-ray releases to shame.

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