Midnight Express, any chance of an anamorphic release?

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Benson R, Feb 10, 2005.

  1. Benson R

    Benson R Supporting Actor

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    I have the current release, which is non anamorphic, and was wondering if there has ever been a mention of a new edition.

    I searched and didnt find any info, but was wondering if anyone had heard anything.

    This would seem like a no brainer to release an updated disc. It was nominated for best picture and director and won for best adapted screenplay.
     
  2. Hank

    Hank Guest

    I used to own this disc and swear that it was 16:9 enhanced. It is a Columbia title and can't recall to many non-anamorphic titles that they have put out.

    Edit:

    The current Midnight Express is indeed anamorphic (16:9 enhanced)
     
  3. Jason Hughes

    Jason Hughes Supporting Actor

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    On older Columbia titles they usually did not mention they were anamorphic. They thought (at least the powers that be at the time) it was a given to do 16*9 without question.
     
  4. Benson R

    Benson R Supporting Actor

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    My mistake, I could have sworn the original release was nonanamorphic, I havent looked at it in a while.

    Anyway it could still use an update. Its labeled as 20th anniversary edition but contains no significant extras. They really should get Oliver Stone to do a commentary. I'd love to hear him talk about the film's controversy, which is still relevant today due to current events.
     
  5. Jon Hertzberg

    Jon Hertzberg Screenwriter

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    I loved this film as a teen, from the riveting performances of Brad Davis (a tragic story in itself) and John Hurt to the pulsating score by disco uber-producer Giorgio Moroder. I remain a fan purely in terms of director Alan Parker's stylistic execution, but Stone's script represents an abominable distortion of the true facts of the case. Just take a look at the book by Billy Hayes (with William Hoffer). The film takes on a xenophobic, one-sided tone that bothers me a lot more as I've gotten older and now that I've travelled more, and gotten to know many Turks in particular. It's not an accurate portrayal of Turkey or the Turkish people. Still, it remains for many people, their only image of Turkey.

    It's been some time since I read the book or watched the film, but I do know that Stone's climax is a ficticious account of Hayes' escape, the script deletes and/or skims over much of the homosexual aspects of Hayes' relationship with Erich. And, the film's most famous sequences are fiction: Hayes never bit the tongue out of Rifke, the stoolie. Hayes also did not call the Turks a nation of pigs at his retrial. In fact, he actually forgave them.

    I would, however, like to see a retrospective documentary and commentary by Parker, Stone, and Hayes in which they discuss the liberties the film took with the true story. Hayes has acknowledged that the film is not wholly representative of his experience.
     
  6. Benson R

    Benson R Supporting Actor

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    I admit to never having read the book, but I dont see how the movie could be a great distortion of Turkey. The film never lets Hayes off for what he did. It makes it very clear that he broke the law and deserved punishment.

    As far as calling Turkey a bunch of pigs at the trial, if that is an invention its a dramatic one. You cant blame someone for not wanting to alienate those that are deciding your fate.

    I think the only things that matter are whether prison in turkey was that hellish 30 years ago, and whether the punishment was excessive for the crime. I'm sure most Turkish people are fine upstanding people but the movie poses some valid points, that at least where relevant at the time the movie came out.
     
  7. Jon Hertzberg

    Jon Hertzberg Screenwriter

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    From a well-researched article I found on the cultural impact of Midnight Express and the mistruths it presents as facts. The article quotes both director Alan Parker, who admits regret over his insertion of the "pig speech" and producer David Puttnam, who acknowledges the film was based on a "dishonest book." The author's name was not provided:

     
  8. Benson R

    Benson R Supporting Actor

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    I dont disagree that people have formed unfair opinions of Turkish people based on the movie, but I dont think the movie has to go out of the way to say that despite the situation Turkish people are okay.

    The movie in no way implies he is innocent, the movie makes that quite clear.

    And the injustice he suffers is not necessarily something that could only happen in a country like turkey. He is given an excessive punishment so he can be made an example of. This happens in many countries and the movie points out that its unfair to use somebodies life just so you can give a warning to others.
     
  9. Jon Hertzberg

    Jon Hertzberg Screenwriter

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    No, it doesn't have to do that. But, it shouldn't distort the truth so much so that one side is presented in such an overwhelmingly vile way. The bottom line is that the film does not present a fair or balanced view of Turkey or the Turkish people. As I said, the film is quite xenophobic and it continues to encourage this mindset with regards to Turkey and the surrounding region. Every Turk in the film is shown to be swarthy and sexually and morally repugnant. Director Parker has expressed regret over this, saying he would change much of his approach to the film if given a second opportunity. For this reason, the film must lose some points and certainly much credibility. No doubt it is a very powerful film and quite well-made, but it should be taken with a giant heaping mound of salt.

    If you truly put yourself in the shoes of a Turk for a moment, you cannot deny its shameful and disturbing respresentation of an entire people. In this day and age, we are all too ready to paint entire populaces with a broad brushstroke, especially in the Middle East. IMHO, we really don't need a film to sway us further in that direction.
     
  10. walter o

    walter o Supporting Actor

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    I have the old vHS and LD and there is a statement, before the end credit rolls, that says soemthing to the effect of "after this film was screened at canne, the turkish goverment is now working on releasing several prisoners" or something to that effect, yet on the DVD, this statement is REMOVED! Any reason why??
     
  11. Benson R

    Benson R Supporting Actor

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    I dont think it matters whether they exaggerated incidents from the real ordeal of Hayes. The movie is not out to give you an impression of Turkish people or of Turkey itself. The movie sets out to put you in the shoes of someone in prison in Turkey, and unpleasant situation no matter how you dress it. The movie has no responsibility to make the audience understand that Turkish people are fine upstanding citizens. I'm sure you could make a film about a true story of an ordeal in an american prison where someone suffered, and the filmmaker would not have an obligation to point out most individuals in the american justice system are good people.

    I think the director has regrets because the audience formed opinions that he did not want them to have. I still think there is nothing wrong with his movie even if he has regrets. And as a viewer of the film I would have no problem visiting turkey 30 years ago because I have no intention of smuggling large quantities of drugs.
     
  12. Jon Hertzberg

    Jon Hertzberg Screenwriter

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    To keep this relevant, I would like to see a new version of the film with participation from the filmmakers, especially director Alan Parker and Oliver Stone. Judging from their quotes and the reputation the film has amassed over the years, I don't know if this will happen anytime soon. The film has become much more of a political hot potato than I had realized.

    Did some digging around and found some interesting recent news stories in which both Oliver Stone and Alan Parker express regret over the long term implications of their unbalanced portrayal of Turkey in the film. On a recent trip to Turkey to promote Alexander, Oliver Stone attempted to make peace with Turkey and met with government officials to as a sort of goodwill gesture.

    From a 1999 ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY article:
     
  13. Benson R

    Benson R Supporting Actor

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    I think Stone is giving himself to much credit if he thinks his screenplay is keeping Turkey out of the EU.

    Its a 25 year old movie, most people would probably have to be reminded about it unless they watched it recently.

    And although Turkey's secular government is a model to the rest of the muslim middle east incidents like trying to bring back legal penalties for adultery (yes I know it didnt go anywhere) probably creates more unease with current EU members then a 25 year old movie.
     
  14. Jon Hertzberg

    Jon Hertzberg Screenwriter

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    Heh,heh. No one can accuse Stone of any form of modesty. [​IMG] However, in this case, from the quotes from Parker, Turkish citizens, and Turkish government members, the sentiment does not originate with Stone. It wouldn't be in the filmmakers' interest to toot their horn this way, anyway. If anything, Stone stayed away from this issue for some time, not returning to Turkey until 2004.

    The stigma attached to Turkey since the time of Midnight Express' release is well-documented and the cultural impact of the film cannot be denied. There are some good quotes from ordinary Turks as well the Cultural Minister. I believe I attached those to my last post. And who could forget the "Ever been in a Turkish prison" line immortalized in Airplane.

    Of course, the film does not have the same cultural currency it did in the seventies and eighties, but it is still shown on television quite regularly and the current DVD, of course, has no current supplemental material discussing the ramifications of the film and the liberties it takes with the truth.

    Based on the response of Producer David Puttnam, Director Alan Parker, and Writer Oliver Stone expressing regret over the their handling of certain material and the film's damning effect on Turkey, an attitude which I think is quite rare and refreshing, I think it would be quite fascinating and instructive if a future DVD made a point to include these responses and reflections and put the film in the proper context. It's not likely, but a piece with the participation of real Turks, not the film's Maltans masquerading as Turks, would be a welcome and potentially very valuable addition.
     
  15. Benson R

    Benson R Supporting Actor

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    The filmmakers are entitled to their own opinion and I under why they are unhappy that people have formed unfair opinions of Turkey.

    However, even if they dont agree, I feel they have nothing to apologize for.

    And even so, if the movie really did persuade people not to let Turkey in the EU it wouldnt be completely unfair.

    Turkey is not really geographically part of Europe, and they are asking to be a part of it. Each country in the EU is disinct, but they share a lot of common bonds. Turkey still seems to share more with the rest of the middle east culturally.

    The movie seems to do two things unfair. Not present any positive Turkish characters, and exaggerate the likeability of the main character.

    On the first count the movie almost completely takes place inside the prison. You can't expect them to make positive characters out of the guards and it seems natural that Billy would only wind up befriending other Americans or Europeans in regards to the other prisoners.

    As far as them changing Haye's character. I guess they decided not to tell the true story of Haye's but to create a movie where the audience goes through the experience of prison in Turkey. They do that by creating a character that only makes on reall mistake so the audience feels it could happen to them.
     

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