-

Jump to content



Photo
DVD Reviews

HTF REVIEW: The Wind and the Lion (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED)



This topic has been archived. This means that you cannot reply to this topic.
41 replies to this topic

#1 of 42 OFFLINE   Jack Briggs

Jack Briggs

    Executive Producer

  • 16,725 posts
  • Join Date: Jun 03 1999

Posted December 28 2003 - 06:38 AM

Posted Image

The Wind and the Lion

Studio: Metro Goldwin Mayer (distributed by Warner Brothers)
Production Year: 1975
Rated: PG
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Running Time: 119 minutes
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish

By the mid-1970s, Hollywood’s abandonment of the traditional adventure film in favor of the modern era’s action movie was already well under way. From the exhilarating swashbucklers of Flynn and Fairbanks vintage to the effects- and explosion-intensive celluloid amusement-park rides of today, all the pieces of this transformation were in place by 1975.

Thus it was with a sense of refreshingly retro pleasure that film goers greeted John Milius’s unabashedly old-fashioned exercise in pure adventure. Very loosely based on a real incident, The Wind and the Lion tells of the 1904 kidnapping by Berber chieftain Mulay Achmed Mohammed el-Raisuli (Sean Connery) of American citizen Eden Pedecaris (Candice Bergen) and her two children. In an effort to embarrass a hopelessly decadent Sultan of Morocco while also humbling a United States of America then proclaiming its speak-softly/carry-a-big-stick foreign policy, the Raisuli would use the hostage situation to make a last stand for Arab traditionalism.

Unfortunately for the Raisuli, neither the French nor the Germans are prepared to sit idly by as geopolitical forces converge on the region, each pushing for its piece of the strategic pie. Into this mix arrives an opportunistic President Theodore Roosevelt (Brian Keith, at the top of his form), seeking to score reelection points by seizing on the kidnapping as a campaign issue ("Pedecaris alive or Raisuli dead!").

In the process, viewers experience the heroics and larger-than-life stature of the Raisuli through the worshipful eyes of a little boy, William Pedecaris. Which brings us to young Simon Harrison and Polly Gottesman, who plays sister Jennifer Pedecaris. What makes these roles shine is that the children act like real children, as opposed to the wise-beyond-their-years miniature adults Hollywood favors now. By flawlessly conveying a childlike innocence throughout the proceedings, these young actors offer audiences the opportunity to indulge in full-on hero worship as the Raisuli, resplendent in all his tribal garb, strides across the screen wielding his sword and his rifle.

Throughout the story, Bergen and Connery maintain a delicate balance in the obvious sexual tension between them that, in the hands of a less-skilled director, would otherwise threaten to go over the top. The result is sexy without the sexuality, which also is out of vogue in modern Hollywood.

Stunningly photographed, The Wind and the Lion echoes the panoramic, old-fashioned epics of the David Lean era. Yet the action, the jihad, is on a human scale.

Also worth noting is Jerry Goldsmith’s exceptional score, at times lush and heavily orchestrated while at others intimate and understated. It’s one of his best.

How is the transfer?
All too often, DVD reviewers give kudos to transfers of films that are themselves hugely saturated with palpitating colors (hence the popularity of modern, digital-to-digital animated features). Overlooked, however, is the true test of a film-to-video transfer’s excellence: adherence to the look, feel, and sound of the original film. If the original film itself is understated and the DVD maintains that look faithfully, the reviewer tends unnecessarily to lower his or her ranking of the disc.

Which is unfair.

Though human memory is as fallible a tool as there is in the reviewer’s bag, it can be said that this Warner transfer accurately maintains the look of the original Metrocolor theatrical prints. Skin tones are muted in comparison with film stocks in common use today. However, the Arabian vistas are breathtakingly colorful, and the subtle shadings in the interior shots have the appearance of film.

Further, the remastered Dolby Digital 5.1-channel soundtrack is quite similar to the limited dynamics evident in the original soundtrack album issued by Arista in 1975. Though it is bright in the upper midrange, there seems to be no significant activity below the upper bass/lower midrange. And the track exhibits a clear emphasis on the left-channel/right-channel extremes. One can follow clearly the microphone's tracking of Sean Connery as he speaks while walking from extreme left to extreme right. Yet the center-channel activity is not slighted by any of this.

As for the surrounds, they are most evident during quieter sections — birds, wind, crowds, etc. Interestingly, though, there is not much surround activity during the few battle scenes.

Extras include a quite good making-of feature made at the time The Wind and the Lion was being shot, in addition to the original theatrical trailer (which is in mono). John Milius’s anecdotal commentary track is laced with the controversial filmmaker’s humor. His political leanings, much in evidence in the film itself, are quite on hand.

Final thoughts.
Those who well know the look of the film will greet this disc as an old friend. What one saw on the big screen in 1975 is what one will see in the home theaters of 2004. It’s a time machine that recalls an adventurous era long missing from the Hollywood tableaux. And it’s a disc deserving of the highest recommendation.

#2 of 42 OFFLINE   Walter Kittel

Walter Kittel

    Producer

  • 4,737 posts
  • Join Date: Dec 28 1998

Posted December 28 2003 - 10:33 AM

Nice review (as always) Jack. Glad to hear that the DVD turned out well. I couldn't agree more that the primary responsibility of any transfer is to replicate the film's cinematography and theatrical presentation with high fidelity.

I've seen conflicting release dates at various online retailers. Some have indicated January 6th, 2004 and others specify January 13th, 2004. Regardless of the release date, this film will be going into the collection.

Once again, kudos on the nice review.

- Walter.

Fidelity to the source should always be the goal for Blu-ray releases.

#3 of 42 OFFLINE   Steve Christou

Steve Christou

    Executive Producer

  • 14,341 posts
  • Join Date: Apr 25 2000
  • Real Name:Steve Christou
  • LocationLondon, England

Posted December 28 2003 - 11:06 AM

Great review Jack, to say I'm looking forward to having this dvd is an understatement, this was one of the first movies I looked for when I first got into DVD, WATL has always been one of my favorite movies.

Easily John Milius best film IMO, it was all downhill from here for Milius, who's most popular film is Conan the Barbarian, really looking forward to hearing his commentary.

And certainly one of Jerry Goldsmith's best ever scores, I still have the soundtrack LP from the 70's. I listen to my CD of the score regularly, not sure what I love more the music or the film, it's pretty close. Would I love the film as much if it had a lucklustre score by some second-rate composer?

This is the Riff. I am Mulay Ahmed Muhamed Raisuli the Magnificent, sherif of the Riffian Berbers... and you are a great deal of trouble.

Dave hören... auf, wille stoppen sie Dave... stoppen sie Dave... Mein gehirn geht... Ich bin gefühl es... Ich bin gefühl es... Ich bin ängstlich Dave... Guter Nachmittag. Ich bin ein HAL 9000 computer. Ich wurde funktionsfähig am HAL-Betrieb in Urbana, Illinois auf January 12 1992.


Lord of the Hubs


#4 of 42 OFFLINE   Paul_Scott

Paul_Scott

    Lead Actor

  • 6,546 posts
  • Join Date: Jul 18 2002

Posted December 28 2003 - 01:15 PM

thanks for the review
i'm getting more intrigued by this film, which i've never seen before.
my only hesitation is because of Candice Bergen, who i have a hard time warming up to in anything (although i liked her fine in Bite The Bullet).
since i'm a compulsive collector, i'm sure i'll be tossing this in the basket come 1/6

#5 of 42 OFFLINE   Bob Graham

Bob Graham

    Supporting Actor

  • 506 posts
  • Join Date: May 11 2001

Posted December 28 2003 - 02:50 PM

Steve, while I owuld agree that WIND AND THE LION is Milius' best film, I have to disagree that his career went downhill afterwards (unlees we are talking in terms of his being a commercial filmaker). Although it was barely released and is some what forgotten, FAREWELL TO THE KING is almost as good as WATL and it features an incredible perforamnce by Nick Nolte; and I'm very fond of BIG WEDNESDAY, too.

Hopefully, somebody at MGM, which has a track record of releasing obscrue catalog titles, will say "Hey, we've got the rights to this Nick Nolte film, let's put it out on DVD for $14.99..."

#6 of 42 OFFLINE   Mike Frezon

Mike Frezon

    Studio Mogul

  • 29,377 posts
  • Join Date: Oct 09 2001
  • LocationRensselaer, NY

Posted December 28 2003 - 05:38 PM

Well, Jack...

As I said in the other thread, you & Dennis have intrigued me enough to convince me to check out this movie upon its release. Your job here is done.

There's Jessie the yodeling cowgirl. Bullseye, he's Woody's horse. Pete the old prospector. And, Woody, the man himself.Of course, it's time for Woody's RoundUp. He's the very best! He's the rootinest, tootinest cowboy in the wild, wild west!


HTF Rules | HTF Mission Statement | Father of the Bride

Dieting with my Dog & Heart to Heart/Hand in Paw by Peggy Frezon


#7 of 42 OFFLINE   Dennis Nicholls

Dennis Nicholls

    Lead Actor

  • 7,767 posts
  • Join Date: Oct 05 1998
  • Real Name:Dennis
  • LocationBoise, ID

Posted December 28 2003 - 10:05 PM

I am pleased. The Raisuli will be pleased.
Feline videophiles Condoleezza and Dukie.


#8 of 42 OFFLINE   Dennis Nicholls

Dennis Nicholls

    Lead Actor

  • 7,767 posts
  • Join Date: Oct 05 1998
  • Real Name:Dennis
  • LocationBoise, ID

Posted December 28 2003 - 10:18 PM

Walter,

DDD accepted my order for a release date of 6 January. I'm buying a box of 10 as I plan to hand them out and am concerned that B&M stores won't stock this title.
Feline videophiles Condoleezza and Dukie.


#9 of 42 OFFLINE   Robert Crawford

Robert Crawford

    Studio Mogul

  • 24,622 posts
  • Join Date: Dec 09 1998
  • Real Name:Robert
  • LocationMichigan

Posted December 28 2003 - 11:15 PM

I've seen conflicting release dates at various online retailers. Some have indicated January 6th, 2004 and others specify January 13th, 2004. Regardless of the release date, this film will be going into the collection.

Walter,
Just about every major online retailer besides DVD Empire has indicated the January 6th release date.





Crawdaddy

Crawdaddy

 

Blu-ray Preorder Schedule

 


#10 of 42 OFFLINE   Michael Martin

Michael Martin

    Screenwriter

  • 1,129 posts
  • Join Date: Nov 26 2000

Posted December 29 2003 - 12:52 AM

Thanks for the review, Jack. Can't wait to pick this one up!
"You know, God has some really weird kids, and I find it hard to be in their company most of the time."
--Paul "Bono" Hewson

#11 of 42 OFFLINE   Walter Kittel

Walter Kittel

    Producer

  • 4,737 posts
  • Join Date: Dec 28 1998

Posted December 29 2003 - 01:27 AM

Hey fellas, thanks for the updates on the release date.

- Walter.

Fidelity to the source should always be the goal for Blu-ray releases.

#12 of 42 OFFLINE   DaViD Boulet

DaViD Boulet

    Lead Actor

  • 8,805 posts
  • Join Date: Feb 24 1999

Posted December 29 2003 - 02:22 AM

Excellent review Jack. Your comments about the proper context for evaluating picture quality are particulary insightful.

I look forward to picking up this disc based on your recommendation.

dave Posted Image
Be an Original Aspect Ratio Advocate

Supporter of 1080p24 video and lossless 24 bit audio.

#13 of 42 OFFLINE   Zen Butler

Zen Butler

    Producer

  • 5,329 posts
  • Join Date: Jan 24 2002

Posted December 29 2003 - 03:18 AM

Thank you Jack, what a nice review. I too have mine preordered. At first it listed 01/04/04, but it's actually 01/06/04. Many should read Jack's section on How's the transfer? over and over, 'til you get it.

bladerunner-thumb-510x227-39115_zpse210a


#14 of 42 OFFLINE   Dennis Nicholls

Dennis Nicholls

    Lead Actor

  • 7,767 posts
  • Join Date: Oct 05 1998
  • Real Name:Dennis
  • LocationBoise, ID

Posted December 29 2003 - 03:29 AM

Quote:
John Milius’s anecdotal commentary track is laced with the controversial filmmaker’s humor. His political leanings, much in evidence in the film itself, are quite on hand.


Posted Image

I can't wait for him to do a commentary for Red Dawn....Posted Image Is the world ready for a John Milius boxed set, to include Big Wednesday, Conan, and Red Dawn?

Jack: we know from the film that TR uses a model 1895 Winchester. But it's never stated exactly what kind of rifle the Raisuli uses (even though that's an important plot point!). My LD is somewhat fuzzy but it looks like he's carrying a model 1898 Mauser in 8mm caliber. Is the DVD clear enough to make this out?
Feline videophiles Condoleezza and Dukie.


#15 of 42 OFFLINE   Jack Briggs

Jack Briggs

    Executive Producer

  • 16,725 posts
  • Join Date: Jun 03 1999

Posted December 29 2003 - 04:19 AM

Dennis, thanks for flagging my awkwardly worded sentence that can be taken to mean something unintended! I will correct it now.

#16 of 42 OFFLINE   Dharmesh C

Dharmesh C

    Supporting Actor

  • 995 posts
  • Join Date: Jul 25 2000

Posted December 29 2003 - 08:50 AM

WooooHoooo just ordered this brilliant film! Shame the soundtrack is out of print Posted Image Can't find it anywhere!

#17 of 42 OFFLINE   jonathan_little

jonathan_little

    Stunt Coordinator

  • 223 posts
  • Join Date: Dec 19 2002

Posted December 29 2003 - 05:49 PM

Intrada deleted the score album from their catalog in the past year or so, citing that sales had pretty much dropped off of the radar.

#18 of 42 OFFLINE   Mike_Richardson

Mike_Richardson

    Supporting Actor

  • 639 posts
  • Join Date: Sep 11 2002

Posted December 30 2003 - 02:47 AM

Quote:
John Milius’s anecdotal commentary track is laced with the controversial filmmaker’s humor. His political leanings, much in evidence in the film itself, are quite on hand.


I get the feeling that if this was a Michael Moore film, you wouldn't have mentioned his "political leanings" and called him "controversial."

I don't think there's much "controversial" about Milius' movies whatsoever, except that he is an avowed conservative. That itself doesn't make him "controversial," unless of course you are a liberal!

#19 of 42 OFFLINE   Zen Butler

Zen Butler

    Producer

  • 5,329 posts
  • Join Date: Jan 24 2002

Posted December 30 2003 - 03:08 AM

Quote:
I don't think there's much "controversial" about Milius' movies whatsoever, except that he is an avowed conservative. That itself doesn't make him "controversial," unless of course you are a liberal!


I would say he has sworn himself much more than just a "conservative." He himself used words like "anarchist", "extremist". I would think both conservatives and liberals would find him a bit controversial. I do agree with you that there's not much controversial about his movies though. At least by today's standards.

I'm sure this is about as close to the line as we can get on the conversation though. Posted Image

bladerunner-thumb-510x227-39115_zpse210a


#20 of 42 OFFLINE   Dick

Dick

    Producer

  • 4,151 posts
  • Join Date: May 22 1999
  • Real Name:Rick

Posted December 30 2003 - 03:11 PM

Nice review. One caveat:

Quote:
the remastered Dolby Digital 5.1-channel soundtrack is quite similar to the limited dynamics evident in the original soundtrack album issued by Cotillion in 1975


This soundtrack was issued by Arista. I know, picky.


Back to DVD, Blu-ray & Digital Reviews



Forum Nav Content I Follow