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Peter T Chattaway

Burn! (1969) / Walker (1987)

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I see that the local Cinematheque is showing the uncut Burn! (1969), by director Gillo Pontecorvo (who also did The Battle of Algiers), next month, and upon reading that Marlon Brando plays William Walker in this film, I was reminded that Ed Harris also played this character in Alex Cox's film Walker (1987) -- though how historically accurate either of these films is, is completely beyond me.

Anybody know anything about either of these films? Worth seeing? Anything one should look out for, or be wary of?

And is there any truth to the rumour that William Walker was part of the same clan that contributed the "Dubya" to George Walker Bush? Or is that just a coincidence?


"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Well, the Cinematheque scheduled a press screening of Burn! this morning, but there are press screenings EVERY morning this week, and a couple in the evening as well, so I figured I'd take a break and catch the film when it opens.

In the meantime, I note that The Leopard (1963) is playing here this weekend, as part of the same series of restorations. I assume I should catch this classic, yes? Anybody else here seen it?


"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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In the meantime, I note that The Leopard (1963) is playing here this weekend, as part of the same series of restorations.  I assume I should catch this classic, yes?  Anybody else here seen it?

I did. I found it impressive, though I will definitely need further viewings to really get into the material.

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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Peter,

I recently watched the non-dubbed version of The Leopard. I think if you like period films (great sets and costumes), I would recommend this film. I'm not really into those type of films, but I was impressed by the recreation of that time period, particuarly the costumes. And if you're interested in Italian history, particuarly in the 19th Century, then you definitely have to see this.

There are some interesting filmmaking here, but the story is mostly about history in Italy, specifically transition from monarchy to democracy, and the changes in class relations and positions. You know how historical fiction utlilizes history as a back-drop to tell a story. In a way, The Leopard uses a story to tell history.

Oh, there's a dubbed version, which I believe is shorter.

I also read the book which I liked because of the exceptional prose.

Let me know if you see and like Burn!

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What Jazz said. I found the film impressive, but I felt that I had little insight into or connection with the material (as is painfully obvious, alas, from my write-up), though I would like to watch it again, possibly after reading the book. Do see it though if you can.

Jazz: By "non-dubbed" do you mean subtitled, or do you mean you watched it in the original Italian? (Of course even the Italian version was "dubbed" in the sense that Lancaster's lines were all voiced by an Italian actor!)


“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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Thanks, guys. I actually rather like Gone with the Wind -- I grew up with a truncated version of the film, read the book when I was 13, and then saw the uncut film twice on the big screen when I was 18 -- so I actually find the comparisons to that film encouraging.


"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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SDG,

Yes, I meant the sub-titled version. Which one did you see?

Peter,

There are similarities between GWTW and The Leopard, but the point I made about the relationship between history and story is apt with this comparison. I foudn the story and characters in GWTW much more interesting than the characters and story in The Leopard.

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I never got around to mentioning that I saw The Leopard. Jazzaloha, I think you are absolutely right when you say, "You know how historical fiction utlilizes history as a back-drop to tell a story. In a way, The Leopard uses a story to tell history." I liked the film and found it interesting, but precisely because it kinda puts the history ahead of the story, instead of vice versa, I didn't quite grab me the way that Gone with the Wind did. Or maybe I was just missing the strong, dynamic, female-driven nature of that Margaret Mitchell story. Anyway, if I see it again, it will be without that comparison echoing in my ears.

On to other things. Last night, I caught another film in this series -- the full-length, 220-minute, original director's cut of Heaven's Gate (1980)! I thought this film was okay too, but I gotta say, if you're a studio on the verge of bankruptcy and you're making the most expensive movie of all time (and that money is certainly up there on the screen), then "okay" doesn't quite cut it! The film also suffered at the box office, no doubt, because of its bleak ending -- it's one of those movies in which everyone is either dead or miserable at the end, and while that might have been profitable in the late '60s (Bonnie and Clyde, etc.) and early '70s (Chinatown, etc.), it wasn't the sort of thing audiences were looking for in the blockbuster '80s.

Apparently the film was cut down to 2.5 hours immediately after its release -- that is, over an hour of footage was cut out -- and I shudder at the thought of it; the film never seemed particularly long or flabby to me, and I imagine a shorter running time could only have hurt it (especially if it was being done for business reasons, i.e. squeezing in more screenings at the theatre).

The film certainly LOOKS fantastic -- wonderfully lit, very epic, and the final shot before the intermission is a stunner.

The cast is also quite remarkable -- on one hand, you've got old pros like Joseph Cotten (The Citizen Kane) as the "reverend doctor" at Harvard; and on the other hand, you've got LOTS of actors whose film careers were still pretty new, or who have become better known for later roles: Christopher Walken, Brad Dourif (AKA Lord of the Rings' Wormtongue), Mickey Rourke, Tom Noonan, etc. (Ohmygoodness, the IMDB says T-Bone Burnett plays in the band seen in the film, and Willem Dafoe was apparently an extra on this.) John Hurt also has an amusing small role (and it's smaller than you might expect, based on his prominence in the first scenes), and Isabelle Huppert is as sexy as ever (this is the earliest of her films that I've seen, I think), and Jeff Bridges is somewhere in there, too (overseeing a cock fight -- none of that sissy "no animal was harmed in the making of this film" stuff HERE!). Unfortunately, the star of the film is Kris Kristofferson, whose survival or viability as an actor has always mystified me. But he doesn't do too much damage here.

Anyhoo, I have never seen Michael Cimino's earlier film, The Deer Hunter, but if this is what his failures are like, I'd love to see his successes!


"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Link to sub-topical discussion of The Leopard in 'In Praise of Great Films' thread.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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The Criterion Collection released Walker on DVD last month. I haven't seen this since I was working in a video store in 1989, but it may be worth a look in a high quality transfer.

Formerly Baal_T'shuvah

"Everyone has the right to make an ass out of themselves. You just can't let the world judge you too much." - Maude 
Harold and Maude
 

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