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Walker (The Criterion Collection) (1987)

Marlee Matlin , Peter Boyle , Alex Cox  |  R |  DVD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Marlee Matlin, Peter Boyle, Ed Harris
  • Directors: Alex Cox
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Anamorphic, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Criterion Collection
  • DVD Release Date: February 19, 2008
  • Run Time: 94 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000ZM1MJ6
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #185,805 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Walker (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

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

Editorial Reviews

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.

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

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
34 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars WALKER awaits discovery by cult film buffs January 28, 1999
Format:VHS Tape
WALKER (1987) is a cult movie in search of an audience. A critical and financial disaster upon its initial release, the film is hard to find on video and rarely televised--but to fans of Psychotronic Cinema, it is worth the effort to find! The film is a schizo, intentionally anachronistic bio of William Walker (1824-1860), the Nashville-born doctor/lawyer/journalist who led his own private army into Nicaragua, ultimately installing himself as president of that nation. Obvious similiarities between Walker's filibustering activities and the US's often ham-handed diplomatic policies towards Central America during the 1980s led the filmmakers to turn WALKER into a political satire, but it is by turns funny, tragic, exciting, informational, and thought provoking. Ed Harris plays Walker, and as something of an expert on the filibuster, I can assure you Harris' interpretation is perfect. Lotsa familiar faces--Rene Auberjonis, Richard Masur, Marlee Matlin, and the hilarious Peter Boyle among them--make this one a character actor watcher's dream film. This picture is only for those who can appreciate weird movies! This film deserves to find a cult audience, and I hope this review helps to establish one!
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Applying the punk aesthetic to the biopic February 11, 2008
By Cubist
Walker is an unconventional biopic that effectively burned any remaining bridges Alex Cox had with Hollywood. He took a modest amount of studio money and made a film about William Walker, an opportunistic American who invaded Nicaragua and became its president from 1855 to 1857, instituting slavery which didn't go over too well with the locals, and he was eventually executed in 1860. Cox wasn't interested in making a traditional biopic and, with screenwriter Rudy Wurlitzer, decided to include the occasional modern anachronism (Walker appears on the covers of Newsweek and Time; a Mercedes drives past a horse-drawn carriage) to give the film a satirical howl of protest against the Reagan administration's support of the contra war against the democratically elected Sandinista government. This did not endear Cox to his studio backers.

Cox sets an absurdist tone and never looks back. This is evident in Walker's first battle in Nicaragua. As his men are gunned down in the street, he brazenly walks through seemingly oblivious to the carnage going on around him. He takes refuge in a building and plays the piano as bullets whiz around him. It's a crazy scene but works because of Ed Harris' conviction. He portrays Walker as a self-important, power-hungry madman with characteristic charismatic intensity.

Cox actually had the chutzpah to make Walker in Nicaragua with the approval of the Sandinista government which demonstrates just how far he was willing to put his money (or rather the studio's) where his mouth was. The filmmaker adopts a very playful attitude as he gleefully deconstructs the biopic (much as he shredded the spaghetti western and gangster film genres in
... Read more ›
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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars complimented by an amizing Joe Strummer score November 4, 1999
By Tommy
Format:VHS Tape
This movie is definitely a hidden gem. Ed Harris is brilliant as is the supporting cast of knock-offs who join his rag tag army on their quest for glory in central america. the blurring of the timeline reminds us that our meddling in C.A. is fundamentally not much different today than it was during the period this movie depicts. The entire flow of the movie is further augmented by a completely stunning score from x-Clash man Joe Strummer, one of the finest movie scores i have ever heard. A classic!
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not your everyday history lesson... January 4, 2008
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Best remembered (if at all) as the film that comprehensively destroyed Alex Cox's mainstream career, it's hard to see what caused such vitriolic offense at the time. Cox and screenwriter Rudy Wurlitzer's take on the unbalanced self-deceiving `idealist' mercenary William Walker's intervention in Nicaragua to protect Cornelius Vanderbilt's financial interests there, setting off a century of disastrous American interference, is not particularly subtle, but then William Walker wasn't exactly a subtle man ("Clearly this is no ordinary ***hole," judges one of the more astute locals). With a visual style clearly inspired by spaghetti westerns and Sam Peckinpah, a contradictory narration - what you hear isn't what you see, with Walker's own third person narration frequently completely at odds with the farcical reality - and a slew of critic infuriating anachronisms, it was received with a mixture of outrage and contempt that makes the critical reception of Domino look like a triumph of Schindler's List proportions.

It's not a great movie, but it's certainly not the disaster its been painted, and even the at first jarring anachronisms are fun - Walker gets the cover of both Time and Newsweek, interviewers use tape recorders while Vanderbilt has a computer displaying stock market prices in his office - but perhaps should have been introduced earlier: however, there's no doubting the pertinence of the final arrival of trigger-happy helicopter gunships to evacuate the US citizens. Harris is on fine self-righteous form as the `short idealist,' short on ideals but big on a sense of divine purpose even though he has no idea what that purpose actually is from one moment to the next. With a concise running time and a great Joe Strummer score, it's an ambitious and often entertaining oddity.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Horrifying
This is truly a horrifying film. Not in the sense of the content, but in terms of it's delivery.
There was a period in the 1980's where men sought to make terrible films about... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Matthew Bentley
1.0 out of 5 stars One Star
Published 3 months ago by punkin
5.0 out of 5 stars A Cult Classic
This "artsy" telling of an incredible, almost unbelievable piece of History, is particularly enhanced by Joe Strummer's soundtrack. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Paul J Cunningham
4.0 out of 5 stars Would Walker be disappointed now?
This was a definite weird movie! I've been wanting to watch this for years then got a cheap copy. The move does explain some so Walker's life with odd parallels and slipping in... Read more
Published 6 months ago by wpapac
5.0 out of 5 stars Well Nicaragua will never forget William Walker!
More satire than I expected.... certainly helped to ad some comic relief to a "Yankee Invasion". Read more
Published 10 months ago by Mr. Chips
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterpiece film, excellent extras
Alex Cox often refers to "Walker" as his "best but least-watched movie." There is no question that the film is a master work -- the story is compelling, the cast is... Read more
Published 12 months ago by BillR
4.0 out of 5 stars a member of jugglers for peace talks about working on the pic
excellent criterion presentation with interesting commentary and a doc with interviews with various people including sandalistas who struck for higher extra pay. Read more
Published 13 months ago by santa cruz woman
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable film that may still be far ahead of its time
Alex Cox's last mainstream film before he was basically blacklisted is not as it appears. This revisionist acid-Western film starring a near perfect Ed Harris mixes Peckinpah-esque... Read more
Published 15 months ago by macdougallgreen6
5.0 out of 5 stars Creative Take on a Little Known Episode
I first viewed this film when I was doing background research for a biographical piece on William Walker, perhaps the most infamous of the filibusters of the 1850s, who were... Read more
Published 23 months ago by B. Browne
4.0 out of 5 stars One must act with severity, or perish
I'm trilled that I came across this film! I first read about William Walker in my Central America guide book. Read more
Published on March 21, 2012 by SKOLVK
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