Amazing film, great DVD,
This review is from: Midnight Express (DVD)
First of all - WHAT A GREAT MOVIE. I saw it in the theater when it first came out, and was utterly floored. It actually gave me nightmares, which I'm sure was the intention. It's remained one of my favorite films since then; although I rarely watch it because of its intensity, I've always held it in very high regard. The script, the direction, the acting, the production values - everyhing just magnificent. (And I also have a soft spot for Giorgio Moroder's Super70's synth score.)
Now about those criticisms...
I've never understood the charges of xenophobia leveled at this film. It's a story told from the point of view of Billy Hayes, a young man sentenced to years in a foreign prison, with no friends or help in the country where his (foolish) actions have trapped him. OF COURSE he's going to see the people abusing him as horrible monsters - wouldn't you? And really, the only people I saw that were portrayed as "evil" were the big horrible prison guard played by Paul Smith, the hard-line prosecuting attorney, and the rather oily defense attorney who really does seem to be trying to help. So there ARE no horrible abusive prison guards in reality? There ARE no hard-line prosecutors who are more interested in coups than justice? Defense attorneys are NEVER the least bit sleazy? Seems to me the only reason these characters are deemed "racist" is that it's apparently a sin to portray anyone outside America as being other than nice - as if there were no ugly, mean, selfish, violent people anywhere else in the world. Sorry, that's dishonest. Bad people exist everywhere, and it's purely self-serving to insist that filmmakers must never allow such people into their films, ESPECIALLY when those characters are based on REAL people in the original book!
As to the differences in the plot, are you kidding? Do these critics have any idea how horribly mangled a book can get when it falls into the hands of Hollywood producers? I give this film credit for letting Billy stay male instead of being made into a woman to make him more "vulnerable", or getting arrested in Aruba instead of Turkey because it's more photogenic. And hey, kudos to the filmmakers for wanting to use the story to try and fight a horrible injustice, since that's one of the reasons Hayes wrote the book in the first place!
Re: the DVD - VERY good. The best edition so far. A director's commentary, numerous interviews, and a beautiful photo gallery. I only wish there were a retrospective "making of" feature, but as Stephen Wright says, you can't have everything - where would you put it?
(WHEN is Amazon going to start listing the extras on DVD's?? I keep having to go elsewhere to find out what's on a disc, and often end up buying it where I can find the info. GET ON THIS, AMAZON.)