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Ironweed

4.1 out of 5 stars 106 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

IRONWEED - DVD Movie

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Jack Nicholson, Meryl Streep, Jake Dengel, Paul A. DiCocco Jr., William Duell
  • Directors: Hector Babenco, Hector Babenco
  • Format: Color, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Lions Gate
  • DVD Release Date: February 24, 2009
  • Run Time: 143 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (106 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001NFNFLC
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #70,934 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Ironweed" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: VHS Tape
In highschool I came across a poem called The Projectionist's Nightmare, I don't recall the name of the poet but the poem's message is still very much with me. It described a wayward bird inside a movie theatre, where an audience was watching two poeple "being nice to each other". The bird crashes into the screen, its blood slithering onto the image, the spell is broken, the fantasy dispelled and the audience screams. Hector Babenco had already made this poem in substance in 1985s Kiss Of A Spider Woman where his lead character, a prisoner, escaped his miserable surroundings through memories and fantasies of a propaganda film. Two years later Bebanco would make Ironweed, and his lead character Frances Phelan (Jack Nicholson) is well past the dreaming stage, the only fantasies he has are of ghosts from his past.
Ironweed is a film many people would find slow. Nothing much happens and the characters don't change. The stark grim atmosphere and the dead end conditions unrelenting. There is no hope in the story of Frances Phelan. He has abandoned his family 22 years ago after dropping his 13 year old baby to its death. The film starts with him visiting his dead baby's grave for the first time, and then follows him around as he joins his companion Helen Archer (Meryl Streep) and his friend of sorts Rudy (Tom Waits). All three of them are alcoholics, and we watch as they wade through the alleys of Albany 1938 looking for a place to sleep . They get robbed, they see a homeless prostitute from Alaska die of cold and they get into fights. But there is no emotional release in their anger or in their better moments. You'd expect there to be emancipated joy when Streep sings in a bar in front of a full house, or rage when a bunch of kids rob them of all their money.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This is a great film. Meryl Streep and Jack Nicholson were given a great story (by William Kennedy), and they responded with greatness. I've been waiting for it to come out in DVD, largely because my VHS copy is a pan-and-scan, fullscreen (1.33:1) version, and this film deserves to be seen in its glorious widescreen (1.85:1) theatrical version. Unfortunately, the "product details" indicate that this DVD is "fullscreen", and it has been confirmed (2-24-09) by two people (Neil and Brad) that it is the fullscreen version. [Brad even commented that it looked like a copy of the old VHS pan-and-scan tape].

August '09 EDIT: Butch Johnson, a projectionist, gave the film a 3 star rating (on Feb. 27, 2009); he commented that this film was originally filmed in a fullscreen (1.33 : 1) aspect ratio, and "cropped" on the top and bottom for commercial "widescreen" theatrical distribution. Comparing this fullscreen version with the widescreen version (which can be seen on youtube in installments, numbered: 1, 2, 3, 4, etc.) Mr. Johnson's claim appears quite valid. Consequently, although there's certainly something to be said for a film that fills our widescreen television screens, this DVD does not appear to be a pan-and-scan; it actually lets us see more of the "original" film, in--paradoxically--a smaller "blackboxed" 4X3 area.

UPDATE APRIL 2013: Hosanna! The Bluray widescreen (1:77:1) version of this film is vastly superior to the previously released fullscreen version. As mentioned in my two previous paragraphs, the top and the bottom of this newer version have been trimmed, but the film is now available the way the director intended, and it packs a much stronger wallop. The video quality of the bluray version is greatly improved, and it makes for a considerably richer movie experience. Enjoy!
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No, this is not a typical Nicholson project, but it's the better for that. I mean -- "About Schmidt" or "Ironweed" -- the former is good, the latter nearly great. The fact that Nicholson is playing so off-character makes this a role well worth seeing him in. Streep is good, Tom Waits is GREAT as Rudy. The film is not for depressives, however. PLEASE RELEASE THIS IMPORTANT FILM IN DVD FORMAT!! With all the toppings, please.
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Format: DVD
This film has been released for the first time on DVD in a horrid Full Screen only version. Not sure why, but I thought the days of non-original aspect ratio releases were over. Apparently not.
1 Comment 20 of 23 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: VHS Tape
This film never received the attention it deserved. Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep both have fine performances, but Nicholson's stands out as he demonstrates a range of emotion and pathos not seen in his other work. The cinemaphotography and lighting as he drifts from the dreary reality of life on the streets to his inner world of neurotic fears, joys, and memories is fantastic. You will not forget this movie.
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Format: DVD
I saw this movie on cable many years ago and did not get it.

Fast foward to about ten years later and I discovered William Kennedys "Albany Trio" at the library. When I finally got to the last of the trio tales I read "Ironweed" in one day and then went out and rented the vhs version at my local video store. Jack Nicholson does an outstanding job in his role as "Francis Phelan" a man haunted by the ghosts from his past.

Tom Waits as "Rudy the kraut" was my favorite character. Meryl Streep is outstanding as usual in her role as Francis Phelans girlfriend. Yes it is sad, depressing and not for all tastes (especially mainstream moviegoers) but, the performances by all are heartfelt. One of the few movies brought to the screen from a great story by William Kennedy who also wrote the screenplay.

Great soundtrack by John Morris and Hector Babenco directed this wonderful adaption. Now with all the garbage DVD's on sale I can not understand why this movie is not available on DVD.

I managed to find an old vhs copy for $3.00 at a small video store here in Heidelberg, Germany where I currrently reside, but I will still wait patiently for this film classic to be released on DVD.
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Full screen?
You're quite right, IMDb has changed the aspect ratio from 1:33 to 1:85 in tech. specs. since I last looked at the site. So apparently this film was widescreen when released and my many viewings of the VHS release have dulled my memory. I have since received the copy I ordered and am sad to... Read More
Feb 25, 2009 by birdman |  See all 6 posts
Ironweed
Someone correct me, but isn't that Ted Levine in the box car playing the banjo and singing Waits Poor Little Lambs? Years before he played Buffalo Bill in Silence of the Lambs. And Buffalo Bill is what Franny calls himself as he wakes Waits' Rudy passed out on the street. Strange coincidence.
Mar 28, 2011 by Robert Wheatley |  See all 2 posts
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