[ REVIEW ]

   
 
 
   
 

Walker (1987)

(บรรยายอังกฤษ)

 

Directer: Alex Cox

Writter: Rudy Wurlitzer

Running time: 94 min

Country: USA | Mexico | Spain

Language: English | American Sign Language
Genre: Action | Adventure | Drama

Subtitle: English
Starring: Ed Harris, Richard Masur and Rene Auberjonois  

 

ควรค่าน่าดูตรงที่ผลงานเรื่องเยี่ยมของผู้กำกับอังกฤษ Alex Cox เจ้าของผลงานดังเรื่อง Repo Man สำหรับเรื่อง Walker (1987) ถูกเสนอชื่อเข้าชิงหมีทองคำจากเทศกาลหนังเบอร์ลินในปีนั้น

 

 

 

 

Storyline:
William Walker and his mercenary corps enter Nicaragua in the middle of the 19th century in order to install a new government by a coup d''etat. All is being financed by an American multimillionaire who has his own interest in this


Special Features:
- New, restored high-definition digital transfer, approved by director Alex Cox
- 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 photos
- PLUS: A booklet featuring writings by film critic Graham Fuller, Wurlitzer, and Linda Sandoval


Review:

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 acuityand the support of the Sandinista army and government during the Contra warthe 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 Coxs most daring works.

Alex Cox''s WALKER is a cult movie in search of an audience. Ignored by audiences upon its original release, despised by critics (Leonard Maltin unfairly gives it a BOMB), WALKER is nonetheless a fascinating oddity of a movie that will be of interest to anyone who likes "psychotronic" cinema.

I am something of an expert on William Walker (1824-1860), the Nashville born doctor/lawyer/journalist who made his mark on Latin American history as a "filibuster," or soldier of fortune. As such, I have long wanted to see a movie about my "hero." I admit I was disappointed at first with Cox''s film--it starts out as a serious biography, but it slowly degenerates into an arch, anachronistic political satire. Some of the humor is over the top and gells uneasily with the more serious aspects of the film. Sometimes I get the feeling that Cox and company just said "to hell with it, let''s make this a big joke." Repeated viewings, however, have revealed the film''s strengths. Ed Harris is perfect as Walker--he plays the "Gray Eyed Man of Destiny" exactly as I perceive the man''s character to be. The supporting cast, full of familiar faces, is also dead-on. The music by Joe Strummer, formerly of The Clash, is a terrific blend of latino, jazz, country, and other styles. Many individual scenes stand out; the climax, in which Walker orders the sacking of Granada, is a nightmarish image of the madness and horror of war. I feel WALKER is bound to become a major cult film--it is quite simply too strange to be anything else, and it deserves more than oblivion. While others remember Cox''s SID AND NANCY and REPO MAN, this picture is far more interesting and deserves more attention than those more celebrated works. WALKER is rarely televised and hard to find on video--but I strongly urge anyone who reads this to seek it out. I promise you won''t have seen anything else like it!
IMDB Reviewer,
29 out of 31 people found this review useful



Agitprop is not usually big box office, because usually the time it is needed most is when people have the least interest in hearing it. After the success of Sid & Nancy and Repo Man, director Alex Cox was poised to be the hottest young turk in Hollywood, but after his cultish misfire Straight to Hell, he decided to get more contrary and difficult and make a film about the lingering consequences of America''s involvement in the social unrest in Nicaragua. Working with screenwriter Rudy Wurlitzer (Two-Lane Blacktop), Cox made Walker in 1987, when the U.S. government''s support of the rebels attempting to overthrow the Sandinista government was still a hotbed of lies and controversy. Needles to say, the Me Decade wasn''t interested.

Walker is the story of William Walker (Ed Harris), a renaissance man who abandoned safe, lucrative jobs as a doctor and a lawyer to pursue adventure in support of a puffed-up faith in democracy. After he failed to foment a revolution in Mexico in the mid-1800s, Walker, who often referred to himself in the third person, was convinced to go down to Nicaragua to secure an overthrow of the nation''s government on behalf of industrialist Cornelius Vanderbilt (Peter Boyle). Vanderbilt cared nothing about democracy beyond it being a means for him to secure exclusive rights of trade through Nicaragua; that means was a tool to secure Walker''s service. Such are dirty deals made in the American system.

As a character, Walker is a complex mixture of personal pain, pride, and conviction--a perfect concoction for an actor with Ed Harris'' stoic intensity. His decision to take Vanderbilt''s assignment comes after he loses his fiancée (Marlee Matlin) to cholera, and so jumping back into battle is as much to hide from his grief as it is a righteous cause. He also rejected God on her deathbed, so his moral posturing has lost some of its gravity. Not that he expresses any of this. A reserved man, he keeps his thoughts bottled up and conducts himself with a self-possessed rigidity. He is a walking, breathing embodiment of Manifest Destiny, strutting imperiously through gunfire and chaos without being harmed. Parts of Walker''s journals are used as voiceover, often as ironic commentary to the action. He was the greatest of spin doctors, turning the bleakest situation into propaganda.



 

Wurlitzer and Cox establish a darkly comic tone for their satire. The filmmaking style of Walker is just shy of crossing the line into gonzo territory. Cox uses several incongruous elements to achieve a sense of irony in the picture. This notably includes former Clash-frontman Joe Strummer''s peppy, Latin-flavored score, which pairs mariachi horns with slow-motion death and destruction. The most talked about incongruity, though, is the introduction of anachronistic elements. We see the wealthy businessmen of the region reading Newsweek and Walker''s face on the cover of Time. At the climax, the modern world comes crashing into the old one in all of its mechanized glory, changing the fate of William Walker in one dramatic swoop.

I think you''d have to be a dunderhead to miss Cox''s point: the Reagan administration''s campaign to interfere in Nicaragua is part of a long history of U.S. interference in that country. In the 1850s, the people rose up and eventually kicked us out, and this was exactly what was happening again in the 1980s. America''s cockiness was no match for the will of the people, and democracy did not mean foreign rule. Walker''s ultimate fate is also part of a larger pattern of U.S. backed dictators that grow mad with power and get abandoned by the people who put them in its seat. In order to maintain control of the nation, William Walker betrays each of his principles one by one, and with each restraint that gets lifted, the world around him declines deeper into madness. By the end, it''s beginning to look a lot like Apocalypse Now, something that was likely intentional given that Cox begins his closing credits with a clip of President Reagan insisting comparisons between Nicaragua and Vietnam to be baseless. Sarcastic juxtaposition, anyone?

Though many of today''s cable news pundits would have us believe that history is vindicating Reagan in all things, more rational minds will show the advantage is Alex Cox''s. Just as history will also likely not be in George W. Bush''s favor for leading America into virtually the same swampy morality of greed with his campaign in Iraq.

But just because Alex Cox is right, does that make Walker any good? I''d say the answer is yes and no, but mostly yes. The film received a pretty horrendous critical drubbing in 1987, and I''d say unfairly. The film does have its faults. There are times when it feels like the director is in less control of his picture than he should be, and it comes dangerously close to veering off the edge. If you''ll indulge another reference to Apocalypse Now, in much the same way the insanity of the war he was portraying infected Francis Ford Coppola, so too does it feel like Cox is getting lost in the carnage of Nicaragua. Just as William Walker couldnt keep a firm grip on his army, the final film suggests Alex Cox found Walker a slippery fish.

Even so, as I said, the answer is mostly yes, the film is mostly good. Walker remains as potent a blast of political anger twenty years later. Its reemergence on DVD for this excellent Criterion edition has come at just the right time, too. Given all the madness around us, maybe a bloody, anarchic allegory will restore a little lucidity to the arena.


Awards:

Berlin International Film Festival
Year Result Award Category/Recipient(s)
1988 Nominated Golden Berlin Bear Alex Cox 
 


 

 



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