http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film/direct-chair/roeg.htm
GB/USA 1983

 

Jack McCann: "I never earned a nickel from another man's sweat"
Claude van Horn: "You didn't earn the gold Jack, you took it from Nature. You raped the Earth."

It seems all too commonplace to overlook the later works of Nicolas Roeg: the accepted practice seems to be to laud praise on his first five films as director, but to consider his works after '
Bad Timing' 1980, to be less than the great works that cineastes had come to expect from Roeg. Part of the problem may simply be that Roeg's first five films were all absolute masterpieces from a great visionary. Indeed, Roeg's vision was so strong that many consider John Schlesinger's 'Far From the Madding Crowd', 1967, to be a Nicolas Roeg film (it was one of Roeg's last films as cinematographer, made three years before 'Performance', 1970), this is due in no small part to the fact that Roeg's vision as cinematographer almost completely eclipsed Schlesinger's vision as director. Nevertheless, there seems to be a growing interest in Roeg's later work, and 'Eureka' is fast becoming accepted as being one of Roeg's great overlooked works. There is in fact much to commend Roeg's later work, and to commend 'Eureka' as an especially fine example of a Nicolas Roeg film, one in which his auteurist vision is clearly evident and in which many classically Roegian themes are dominant. The film is especially interesting as ideas, themes and characters that are explored in earlier Roeg films are seen again in different guises. The film again pairs Roeg with producer Jeremy Thomas ('Bad Timing'), scriptwriter Paul Mayersberg ('The Man Who Fell To Earth', 1976), and with Theresa Russell ('Bad Timing') whom Roeg married during the years in between the making of 'Bad Timing' and 'Eureka'. The central character in the film is played by Gene Hackman, who delivers an exceptional performance as Jack McCann, the gold prospector who finds his fortune fairly early in life, and who subsequently struggles to give meaning to the rest of his life as his ultimate goal has been accomplished. In many ways this reverses the structure of 'The Man Who Fell To Earth', where Newton struggled and ultimately failed to fulfill his goal, though found (a kind of) solace at the end of the film. No such solace is granted to McCann though, and the parallels with 'Eureka' and 'Citizen Kane' 1941, have been frequently cited; although 'Eureka' takes a darker turn, and unlike Kane who waits for old age to take him, McCann seems desperate to bring about his own early demise. McCann's death is instigated by the gangster Mayakofsky (played by Joe Pesci), although the pair never meet. The similarities between McCann and Mayakofsky are suggested in various scenes during the films, in many ways reminding the viewer of the earlier parallel between Chas (also a gangster) and Turner in 'Performance'. The reasons for the relatively overlooked status of this film have almost nothing to do with the quality of the film itself, and almost everything to do with the usual problems of a film that baffles its distributors; it was shelved for two years, and then received only the most meager distribution. Nevertheless, one must not overlook Roeg's problem of bad timing; this was a film made in the heyday of Ronald Regan and Maggie Thatcher, and Roeg was trying to remind us that although money may make the world go round, it will not necessarily make us happy.

Rob Farmer

Posters

Theatrical Release: Limited theatrical release circa 1985

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DVD Comparison: 

Optimum Home - Region 2 - PAL vs. MGM - Region 1 - NTSC

Optimum Home - Region 2 - PAL LEFT vs. MGM - Region 1 - NTSC RIGHT

Big thanks to Gregory Meshman for the MGM Captures!

DVD Box Cover

 

 

Distribution

Optimum Home

Region 2 - PAL

MGM

Region 1 - NTSC

Runtime 2:04:20 (4% PAL speedup) 2:09:28
Video

1:1.85 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 5.84 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

1.85:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 6.66 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: Optimum

Bitrate: MGM

Audio Dolby Digital 2.0 (Mono, English) English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono) , Spanish dub (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
Subtitles None English, Spanish, French, None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Optimum Home

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1:1.85

Edition Details:
• Chapter Selection
• Trailer

DVD Release Date: 1st September 2008
White keep case

Chapters 12

Release Information:
Studio: MGM

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.85:1

Edition Details:
• Theatrical trailer (2:42)

DVD Release Date: September 16th, 2003
Keep Case

Chapters 24

 

Comments

ADDITION: MGM - July 2010: Surprisingly the Optimum appears to be a tad sharper - but other than that there doesn't seem to be much difference between the two editions visually. Colors, contrast, 1:85 framing is duplicated and both are anamorphic.

The US release offers a Spanish DUB and some subtitle options where the Optimum has none. Both have only a trailer as an extra.

Those sensitive to PAL speedup, or require subtitles should indulge in the MGM - otherwise, for those not region-locked, whatever is cheapest for your geographic region to indulge in Roeg's enigmatic film.

Gary W. Tooze

***

 

ON THE OPTIMUM: Given the extras that accompanied Optimum's R2 release of 'Don't Look Now', it can only come as a disappointment that 'Eureka' comes with nothing other than a 2 minute trailer for the film. This lack of extras is especially disappointing given that Roeg has been very accommodating when it comes to creating extras for his DVDs (one only needs to look at the Criterion releases of his films for proof). Only four days after the release of this DVD, BBC Radio 4's 'The Film Programme' broadcast a special 'Eureka' episode from Roeg's home, featuring Jeremy Thomas and Nicolas Roeg (and director Danny Boyle, by 'phone) - [the programme can be heard HERE. Roeg and Thomas discuss the film in detail, for a good twenty minutes or so, and there are some interesting comparisons made between 'Eureka' and the recent film 'There Will Be Blood' 2007.

Regarding the quality of the film as it appears on the DVD there is nothing much to complain about. The film is presented in the correct widescreen aspect ratio of 1:1.85 (I think I am correct in saying that to date the only films that Roeg has made in Anamorphic Widescreen 1:2.35 are 'The Man Who Fell To Earth' and 'Bad Timing') and there is the appropriate thin letterboxing as should be the case when presenting a 1:1.85 film in a 16:9 (1:1.77) format. The transfer to digital looks fairly good, no discernable wear to the print and no visible digital artifacts. Colours are strong and the image is fairly sharp. Without anything to compare the print to it is hard to say for sure, but I get the impression from looking at the screen captures that there is additional clarity to be had, and that a better transfer is possible.

Given that almost nobody saw this film at the cinema, what is needed here to redress the balance of poor publicity and distribution (and to restore this film to its rightful place) is a high quality special edition DVD, featuring a director approved high definition transfer from the original camera negatives, and a generous offering of DVD extras.

 - Rob Farmer

 



DVD Menus

 

Optimum Home - Region 2 - PAL LEFT vs. MGM - Region 1 - NTSC RIGHT
 

 

 


Subtitle sample (MGM)

 

Optimum Home - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. MGM - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM

 


Screen Captures

 

Optimum Home - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. MGM - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM

 

 


Optimum Home - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. MGM - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM

 

 


Optimum Home - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. MGM - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM

 

 


Optimum Home - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. MGM - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM

 

 


Optimum Home - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. MGM - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM

 

 


  Optimum Home - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. MGM - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM

 


DVD Box Cover

 

 

Distribution

Optimum Home

Region 2 - PAL

MGM

Region 1 - NTSC

 




 

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