A Few Words About A few words about...™ Appaloosa -- in Blu-ray

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Robert Harris, Jan 10, 2009.

  1. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    My earliest memory of Ed Harris is his performance as John Glenn in Philip Kaufman's brilliant The Right Stuff in 1983. Since then I've held his work in the highest regard, inclusive of his work as both director and lead as the title actor of Pollock (2000). When Appaloosa hit theaters I was there.

    This is a film about the friendship of two hired lawmen in the west in 1882. The film is a traditional western in its basic story telling and textures. The characters are so beautifully written and hewn that it could have been directed by Hawks or Ford. Although the men are gunfighters, Appaloosa isn't a film about gun fighting. It tells its story with a slow, deliberate, methodical pace, and adds information as it moves along. Photographed by Dean Semler, who knows how to shoot a western, the film gives us a small town with all of the bright sunlight, grit, dust and grime intact.

    One of the extras on this Blu-ray is a series of scenes deleted from the final cut of the film. Usually these scenes are fill for a DVD. In this case, almost every one moves the film along, adds information or probably would have made the film even better than it is had time not been an issue. I'm hopeful that a longer cut (not a Director's Cut -- we have that) will arrive in the future.

    Appaloosa is a terrific, beautifully crafted film, well represented on blu-ray.

    Highly Recommended.

    RAH
     
  2. TonyD

    TonyD Who do we think I am?
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    I've had a copy in my ps3 for a few days now, having had a chance to watch it.
    I never liked westerns when i was a kid but somehow when i grew up
    i began to appreciate them.
     
  3. Southpaw

    Southpaw Supporting Actor

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    I have this one on order. I should get it Tuesday. Glad to hear I'm not wasting my money on this blind buy. I had confidence I wasn't just due to the subject matter and the wonderful actors.
     
  4. Felix Martinez

    Felix Martinez Screenwriter

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    Thanks for the heads up - will add this to my pile.

    My earliest memory of Harris is seeing him disco dancing in Creepshow...would love to see that in HD glory on Blu someday...
     
  5. Ron-P

    Ron-P Producer

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    I saw this in the theater and left very underwhelmed. But, it is in my rental queue as I'd like to give it a second chance. I wanted to like it but the storyline is so generic I was let down. I also thought Harris and Viggo did a much better job together in History of Violence, I went in with that expectation and that was another reason I was let down.
     
  6. Kriztoffer Swank

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    Good to know it looks good on BD. Saw this in the theater and absolutely loved it, and may for the first time pay $25 for a BD to get this today.
     
  7. benbess

    benbess Cinematographer

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    I recently got this one on sale for the amazing price of $6. I thought it was a high quality Western in every way. It's very deliberately paced, but I liked that about it. You got the sense that maybe about 3 years was passing during the film, but I wasn't quite sure. The design of the film as well as the photography were first rate.
     
  8. John Hodson

    John Hodson Producer

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    It is a superb western and vastly under-rated. RAH is quite right in invoking Hawks and Ford - it IS that good.
     
  9. benbess

    benbess Cinematographer

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    John H: I agree. It seems to be quite underrated. I think it's one of the best Westerns of the last 10 years. I liked the realism of it. And yet it had a fine and tuneful score by Jeff Beal that really helped create that classic Western feel for it. Dean Semler's cinematography was quite subtly poetic without hitting you over the head with it. Did they built that whole town for that movie?
     
  10. ManW_TheUncool

    ManW_TheUncool Producer

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    _Man_
     
  11. Richard--W

    Richard--W Banned

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    RAH's review is right on.

    The post about the prevalence of Attention Deficit Disorder is also true. I would add (pun intended) that it prevents many people from enjoying films (and theatrical plays, for that matter) which are not dependent on a fast pace or hyper editing. The film isn't flawed; but many viewers are totally screwed up.


    The best westerns are not necessarily action films and certainly not ultra-fast-paced-hyper action films. The best westerns offer some action at the right beats, but first and foremost, a western is a straight-forward drama that draws upon frontier times and expresses certain underlying truths about life in the American west. Appaloosa does that beautifully. It is a fine film and a memorable, authentic, believable western.


    Note the character played by Renee Zellwegger. You've never seen a female character like this in any movie, let alone in a western, but "Mrs. Allie French" is an absolutely believable western character, very true to life in frontier times. The writers did their research and came up with a female character that is wholly original.


    To answer a question above, Appaloosa was filmed mostly on Glen Hugh's Bonanza Creek Ranch south of Santa Fe, NM. The western street was built about forty years ago and has been used in a good many westerns. It was fixed up some and redressed for Appaloosa.
     
  12. Richard--W

    Richard--W Banned

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    Appaloosa was adapted from the novel by Robert B. Parker.

    I wish Ed Harris would adapt the other novels in the trilogy.

    Appaloosa is so good, I wish Harris would make nothing but westerns.

    A new western every year or two new westerns every year by Ed Harris would suit me just fine.
     
  13. benbess

    benbess Cinematographer

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    Richard: Thanks for answering the question about the town where it was filmed. No wonder it looked rather familiar.


    I've been curious about the source novel and thinking of reading it.


    Unfortunately the odds of Ed Harris making the others seems pretty low. The budget on the film was $20m. The worldwide take was $27m. They probably spent about $7m or so on prints and promo. And of that $27 the studio probably only saw c. 20. In other words, I think the film probably lost some money. I hope that DVD/blu-ray sales, cable, etc, pulled it into the black. But my guess is that there weren't really any profits of the kind usually needed to get more made. Which is too bad, because as you saw it's a very strong film.


    One of the reviews said that they hated the voiceover at the end. I actually kind of liked it, but perhaps it does spell out too much a bit too obviously...
     

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