69 of 74 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent film which works on many levels.
What is this film about? Is it about political corruption and intrigue? Is it about how revolutionary movements start by promising a lot and end by delivering little? Is it about the conflict between love and duty? Or perhaps the cynicism of the press and the various and conflicting goals? The film could be about how hard it is to overcome fear and superstition...
Published on March 9, 2000 by smarmer
140 of 156 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Edited for TV
I loved the original theatrical release of The Year of Living Dangerously. I watched it over and over. It was a beautiful, sensuous film. This is not the original. This DVD was the work of some hack who left the best parts of the movie on the cutting room floor. Gone is much of the gamelan music, many scenic shots of Indonesian countryside, and one of the hotest make-out...
Published on July 10, 2004 by Rick
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69 of 74 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent film which works on many levels.,
This review is from: Year of Living Dangerously (DVD)
What is this film about? Is it about political corruption and intrigue? Is it about how revolutionary movements start by promising a lot and end by delivering little? Is it about the conflict between love and duty? Or perhaps the cynicism of the press and the various and conflicting goals? The film could be about how hard it is to overcome fear and superstition. Maybe it is about doing small things to make the world better, but then reverting to dramatic acts when the small things don't work.
Mel Gibson is a novice reporter for Australian news recently assigned to Indonesia. He wants to make a splash and climb the reportorial hierarchy. Billy Kwan (Linda Hunt in a stellar performance) takes him under his wing and educates him about poverty and teaches him to recognize the shadow play of politics. Billy also introduces him to Jill (Sigourney Weaver). They fall in love and have a wonderful scene in the rain. He commits a dramatic act that costs him dearly. (I don't want to give away everything.) Through it all we meet a cast of characters - reporters and diplomats - who are in turns fascinating and loathsome.
The movie is beautifully photographed. The music adds to the atmosphere. Since I reserve a 5 star rating for true classics, this film gets only a 4. However I do recommend it very strongly.
140 of 156 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Edited for TV,
I loved the original theatrical release of The Year of Living Dangerously. I watched it over and over. It was a beautiful, sensuous film. This is not the original. This DVD was the work of some hack who left the best parts of the movie on the cutting room floor. Gone is much of the gamelan music, many scenic shots of Indonesian countryside, and one of the hotest make-out scenes in cinematic history. Just as Mel Gibson and Sigourney Weaver are about to go at it the scene abruptly ends. Even the sequence of the original is changed. The over all effect is a coursening of what had been a classic. This was such a dark and murky print I still wonder if I somehow got a bootleg copy surreptitiously videotaped by some artless thug. I feel angry and cheated.
I recommend waiting until the original version is released. DON'T BUY THIS TRASH!
60 of 69 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Contrasts and meaning,
Peter Weir's film 'The Year of Living Dangerously' was shown at a campus film festival during my first year as an undergraduate (a few years after Linda Hunt had won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for playing a male character), sponsored by the departments of political science, journalism, and East Asian studies.
The setting is 1965, Djakarta, during a time when Southeast Asia was high on the scope of European radar and coming into more prominence for American eyes. Indonesia was (and is) a big country, with population and resources (both underutilised) the envy of East and West.
The dictator Sukarno was playing a dangerous game trying the balance the two, internally as well as in foreign affairs. In the end, it did not pay off for him, and Indonesia has only recently begun to work at achieving a prominence a resource-rich, 100+ million populated country can attain.
Into this tight-rope situation dropped Guy Hamilton (Mel Gibson), of the Australian Broadcasting Service, a fresh-faced journalist out to make a mark for himself, sabotaged by his predecessor and professionally ignored by other Western journalists (who had their own headline-deadlines to meet). However, a strange American/Chinese man, Billy Kwan (Linda Hunt), befriends him, and attempts to help him both professionally, personally, and spiritually.
Billy takes Guy on a trip through the slums of Djakarta, preaching Tolstoy, charity and compassion, and tries to get Guy to see beyond the headlines. Billy also introduces Guy to Jill (Sigourney Weaver), a British agent planning to leave Djakarta.
The tale wanders through politics, personal strife and decision-making, and the beginnings of revolution, climaxing with Billy putting his words into action and suffering a martyr's fate trying to get Sukarno's attention for the suffering poor, and Jill and Guy making a mad dash for the airport before the runways are closed.
Those of us with benefit of hindsight know that Guy could have stayed, the communist PKI in fact did not succeed, and he could have continued to write articles and make a mark. But that would not have been as romantic.
This movie is one of contrasts--the elegance of a British Embassy cocktail party contrasted with the poverty of the native Javanese; the cooperation of Billy against the ignoring of the other professionals; the native spirituality (which isn't exploited nearly enough) against the materialistic West (made worse when adopted by a native such as Sukarno). The music from Vangelis is an interesting accompaniment (remember Chariots of Fire?) and the cinematography grand in many cases. But subtlety abounds here--you may miss much the first time through.
This is an atypical Weir film (but of course, that may be an oxymoron, for is there a 'typical' Weir film?). Australian, but it doesn't always seem so; artistic, but it doesn't always seem so--there are many such attributes. Weir always tries to inject meaning into his films in many ways -- the injection didn't quite take in every way in this film, and some meanings are a bit overdone, but overall, there is a good balance.
This is not an action film (despite occasionally being categorised in this group). If you're looking for bombs bursting in air, look elsewhere.
25 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In a foreign land,
This review is from: The Year of Living Dangerously [VHS] (VHS Tape)
There have been a lot of political dramas about third world situations undergoing violent upheavals but none have captured their complexity quite as well as this one. In fact though it is a film about a specific revolution or populist uprising Year of Living Dangerously deals with that situation in a philosophic way, making a fable of all its elements which allows this film to speak specifically to that situation as it unfolds and generally about all such situations that occur with unfortunate regularity in the news from places all over the world where mass starvation undermines a current regimes authority.
The film is also about a wealthy nations role in such circumstance. Mel Gibson plays an Australian journalist and that allows him to report events as they occur but not have to get involved in them or think about what they mean. That changes however when Mel meets Linda Hunt. Her character teaches Mel how to care about the people not just the events and that is the most fascinating relationship in the film. Sigourney Weaver is the daughter of an English colonial administrator but now that the political climate is a threatening and perilously unstable one the English are departing. Her father is pompous and very English, his intentions are good ones but his methods have been ineffective because from his lofty English perch he can not see the real needs of the people. Mel falls for his daughter who as a free spirit and free thinker cares for the people and understands their needs in a way her father could not. It is not surprising that Linda Hunt likes her and wishes to see she and Mel together. And she has a fascination with shadow puppets that makes her think of herself as something of a puppet master in the Mel and Sigourney love affair. However there is another puppet show going on and that is the political one. Linda Hunt may play the puppet master in the private sector but other people are pulling the strings in the public arena. Disillusion follows and a very exciting finale. Really one of the few films of the last thirty years I would call perfect in every way. Complex enough to give you a new slant on these events every time you view it. Every element of the film is fulfillingly developed and explored in such a way as to make one feel one has just watched a perfect film.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A rare jewel,
I reserve five stars for movies that create or recreate a world I want to live in or touch in some way. This is not to say that one film is BETTER THAN "Citizen Kane" or NOT AS GOOD AS "Casablanca." All good movies are their own reward for having watched them. A movie that can truly move you is a rare thing. It is the accumulation of these rare moments that enrich our lives.
"The Year of Living Dangerously" is a rare thing. It is a film that lets you see an alien culture in all its poverty and violence and political turmoil and renders it -- at its heart -- as a frightening and beautiful thing. I know I will perhaps never go to Djakarta, Indonesia. I certainly cannot know the fear the people of Java lived with under the Sukarno regime. I do not know what fears they live with now.
But I am haunted by the voice of Billy Kwan (Linda Hunt in her Oscar winning role) who is himself haunted by the misery and hardships of his adopted people. Guy Hamilton (Mel Gibson) is the journalist trying to cover a budding revolution the western world watches but doesn't wish to understand. Hamilton is, as I would be, lost in this alien culture, visibly panicked as he struggles to keep up with his callous fellow journalists. Sigourney Weaver is the sophisticated British attache for whom he finds himself falling in love. Ultimately, Hamilton must decide between his loyalty to his job and his loyalty to himself.
Peter Weir's empathic direction and Maurice Jarre's lush score put you in Indonesia in the 1960s and hold you there. Stay. You will go back again and again.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not wrong to want to change your country..,
Director Peter Weir casts Mel Gibson as a young journalist posted to Jakarta, Indonesia. This is set in the 65 Soekarno's reign. The young journalist, Guy is soon soaking in the tumultous years of SE Asia, especially Indonesia. Linda Hunt plays his photog, accomplice and friend, as a Man. A brilliant performance that was rewarded with an Oscar.
The direction, though bitty, is appropriate for the turbulence and looming downfall of the Soekarno regime. The pacing is disturbing, especially with the "romantic" scenes. As is the casting of Sigourney Weaver who weaves an on/off British accent. The relationship between Gibson and Weaver is hot. But it is between Gibson and Linda Hunt's characters that one learns much about the situation there.
Watch out for the bits of jewels - the Wayang Kulit (shadow puppetry) scenes with Linda Hunt and Mel Gibson. The beggars, the sick and hungry and the slum areas as set up in the film, are still here today! The Hotel Indonesia scenes are great, right down to the logo of the hotel. The real gems of course are the shots that Peter Weir show through the photographs of Billy Kwan (Linda Hunt).
Although most of the scenes are set and filmed in Philippines, they are no less, real. Very real. A few groans, though, for some of the glaring Filipino accents. Another real gem is the the scene where Mel finally leaves Jakarta - the Royal Netherlands Aircraft on the tarmac!
Watch it for what it is, though the film does not attempt to go deeper into the politics, it gives us enough. Enough to go read up more.... A great film and I recommend it.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Fine Film, But The DVD Isn't,
The reason this great Peter Weir film gets only three stars is the bowdlerized 2000 DVD release. It bears little resemblance to Weir's original portrait of the multicultural hothouse and political tinderbox that was Sukarno's Indonesia in 1965. Sadly, this version is a butchered old print with a muddy, poorly mixed soundtrack. Such a disappointment.
Like another reviewer here, I remember the original theatrical release of TYOLD. It was an amazing film that has stayed with me through the years; the story line, script, acting, direction, editing and score were all spot on. And I am still in awe of American actress Linda Hunt's stunning work as the diminative Eurasian male photographer Billy Kwan, the fulcrum of the story. I got this DVD because of her Oscar-winning performance and Maurice Jarre's haunting gamelan music. (Okay, Mel too. He was sooo totally hot then. And his love scenes with Sigourney Weaver were as steamy as the tropical climate they were shot in.)
IMO this 1983 film still resonates today. The scenes of grinding poverty and violent political unrest, and the influence of Indonesia's large conservative Muslim population on world events are disturbingly relevant to our own time.
I hope Weir's original cut of Living Dangerously will be lovingly restored and reissued one day. That event would solidify his standing as one of Australia's most gifted filmmakers and enhance the filmographies of Hunt and Weaver. It also might help restore Gibson's reputation, now tarnished by hubris and addiction. Hello, Criterion?
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Romance and intrigue amid squalor and poverty,
Guy Hamilton is an opportunistic Australian journalist looking to make his name in Indonesia so that he can go on to bigger and better things. Hamilton (played by Mel Gibson) is lost amid a foreign culture and political machine so competely alien to him and gets help from Billy Kwan (played in a cross-gender role by Linda Hunt), an educated native who is desperate to do something about the rampant poverty he sees every day. The two develop a partnership: Guy supplies the words, and Billy, the images. However, their partnership undergoes strain due to their contrary aims: Guy wants to break the story of Communist aggression and insurrection, while Billy wants to blow the lid off of the poverty in his country. Guy's response is that people don't want to hear about starving kids. Things are complicated when Guy falls for a British diplomat (Sigourney Weaver, whose beauty and brilliant performance make up for a marginal British accent) who gives him the story he wants, but broadcasting it may just be bad for everyone. At end of the movie, everyone has committed themselves to what they feel is important, and for some, it isn't what one would initially imagine them choosing.
This is another 80s gem from Peter Weir, who is simply brilliant in setting up an utterly realistic impoverished Indonesia circa 1965. The acting, as I mentioned, is excellent: Gibson has rarely been better, and Weaver is one of the greatest living actresses today. Linda Hunt got much recognition for the role of Billy, but this is no gimmick or Oscar-bait performance--Hunt shows a compelling portrait of betrayed patriotism. Weir, as in Gallipoli, shows a weakness for the music of the times, and there is some 80s synth in the movie again (this time, from Vangelis). Other than this, though, this is a movie which is compelling all the way through and comes highly recommended from this viewer.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best films set in Asia ever!,
By A Customer
This review is from: Year of Living Dangerously [VHS] (VHS Tape)
I saw this movie at the recommendation of a colleague who had lived for a while in Indonesia. I've always been interested in Asia and watch any good movies set in Asian countries that I can lay my hands on. This is absolutely one of the best movies about the region ever! Mel Gibson's acting is fabulous and he looks so hot - so much better than the way he looks now! Sigourney Weaver is also fantastic as Jill, the world-weary British diplomat, but Linda Hunt steals the show as Billy Kwan, the mysterious Chinese-Australian photographer who has amazing political contacts and seems to know everyone and everything in Jakarta. Unlike the characters of Guy Hamilton and Jill Bryant, Kwan remains a shadowy figure throughout the movie and the viewer is permitted only glimpses of his thoughts and dreams. It is Billy's character that holds the film together and elevates it above the standard issue romantic drama set in an exotic land, to a moving and haunting social commentary on poverty, politics and sexual mores, all in an extremely entertaining way. The locales and characters are completely authentic with no attempt at fake Hollywood studio shoots. Gibson and Weaver make an incredibly sexy couple but keep your eye on Linda Hunt if you can. If you have the slightest interest in Southeast Asia and just would like to understand what life was like for expats in the 60's in a volatile part of the world and with the shadow of Vietnam looming, this film is a must-see. Highly, highly recommended!
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Smoldering,
They just don't make these kinds of films anymore that blend romance,action,intrigue, political machinations, and manage to keep it modern and original. Set against the backdrop of Suharto's regime, Mel Gibson plays an investigative Australian reporter hunting stories against martial law uprising. Just 26 years old when he played the leading man, Mel Gibson and Sigourney Weaver shine. It's a classic!
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