Directed by Alex Cox
USA / Mexico / Spain 1987

 

A hallucinatory biopic that breaks all cinematic conventions, Walker, from British director Alex Cox (Repo Man, Sid & Nancy), tells the story of nineteenth-century American adventurer William Walker (Ed Harris), who abandoned a series of careers in law, politics, journalism, and medicine to become a soldier of fortune, and for several years dictator of Nicaragua. Made with mad abandon and political acuity—and the support of the Sandinista army and government during the Contra war—the film uses this true tale as a satirical attack on American ultrapatriotism and a freewheeling condemnation of "manifest destiny." Featuring a powerful score by Joe Strummer and a performance of intense, repressed rage by Harris, Walker remains one of Cox's most daring works.

Poster

Theatrical Release: December 4th, 1987

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DVD Review: Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC

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CLICK to order from:

Distribution Criterion Collection - Spine # 423 - Region 1 - NTSC
Runtime 1:34:57 
Video 1.85:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 7.33 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s 

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

Audio English (Dolby Digital mono) 
Subtitles English, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion Collection

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1

Edition Details:

• Audio commentary by Cox and screenwriter Rudy Wurlitzer
•  Dispatches from Nicaragua, an original documentary about the filming of Walker
- On Moviemaking and the Revolution, reminiscences twenty years later from an extra on the film
•  The Immortals: behind-the-scenes and Polaroid photos
•  46-page liner notes booklet featuring writings by film critic Graham Fuller, Wurlitzer, and Linda Sandoval 

DVD Release Date: February 19th, 200
8
Transparent Keep Case
Chapters: 16

 

Comments:

There is a UK release of this film available HERE but I understand that the image quality is quite mediocre and it has no extra features. This is advertised by Criterion as a 'new, restored high-definition digital transfer, approved by director Alex Cox' and it supports that claim very well. You can still see the frugal production values but the image quality in outdoor scenes is as good as any modern film. Indoor sequences occasionally show some digital noise. Expectantly it is dual-layered, progressive and anamorphic in the original aspect ratio of 1.85:1. The print used is also surprisingly clean. The audio is also clean and clear without annoying pops or background hiss and is supported by mandatory subtitles when non-English is used (even sign-language) - there are also optional English subtitles for the English dialogue. Overall a wonderful and competent transfer by Criterion.

Alex Cox is quite a good commentarist and seems right at home with screenwriter Rudy Wurlitze as they enthusiastically relate production and historical details. It is fairly fast paced and Cox's accent can be difficult to interpret at times. I found it very interesting as was the film itself from a biographical standpoint. On Moviemaking and the Revolution is an audio only reflection back by an extra. It has a lot of the 'F' word and seems quite frank discussing his, Hollywood-based expectations, perceptions, how history, after the fact, tends to repeat itself and the adventure of being, even a small, part of the production. It runs about 12 minutes and is unique. Dispatches from Nicaragua, is a 50 minute documentary about the filming of Walker that was culled from 30 hours of film that was residing in a garage for the past 20 years. The Immortals is a group of behind-the-scenes and Polaroid photos set up in a gallery click thru slideshow . Finally there is a 46-page liner notes booklet featuring writings by film critic Graham Fuller, Wurlitzer, and Linda Sandoval.

The film is a fascinating piece of unearthed history and many will be ignorant of the events. Harris is the anchor with a solid performance as the plot courageously shifts in multiple directions. Approaching 'great' film status - it falls slightly short but gets full marks for its educational and docudrama intentions.  

Gary W. Tooze

 



DVD Menus


 


Subtitle Sample

 

Burnt-in for sign-language and non-English

 

 

Removable English subtitles

 

 


 

Screen Captures

 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 

 


 

 


DVD Box Cover

   

CLICK to order from:

Distribution Criterion Collection - Spine # 423 - Region 1 - NTSC




 

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