The Parallax View
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Pakula's dark and paranoid masterpiece was origninally shot by Gordon Willis (Godfathers I II and III, Klute, Zeilig, etc.) in 2.35 aspect. Willis, a master of light and composition, developed frames for this film that are practically abstract. His sense of composition (I'm sure Pakula was part of this) is brilliant: the static formalistic compositions; the use of long lenses to flatten each image into an (almost) isometric projection.
Now, maybe I'm getting carried away here, but "parallax" and "isometric"...? Hmmm... Both are terms related to geometry the "perception" of reality -- which is more-or-less the subtext of this film.
Anyway, after its dissapearance from theater screens this film made numerous appearances on TV (mainly late at night) in a pan-and-scan version. Same with the VHS version. So until the DVD was released, this was the only way I (and most other people) had seen it.
Well twice the frame is twice as good -- now entire sequences can be re-examined and reinterpreted (the ending has elements which appeared seperated in the VHS version).
I found the picture and sound to be good, but I'd hoped for more additional material (a documentary, a making of, an interview or two -- anything). This is certainly one film that deserves the extra attention. However I'm grateful for the 2.35 version.
Bottom line: a real treat for cinephiles, and a great movie for everyone else.
Reminds me very much of THE WICKER MAN (released that same year of '74) in that both films chart the nightmarish progress of men who are seeking to uncover a mystery and right a great wrong, who must plunge into disorienting environments where none of the rules they adhered to back in the 'normal world' apply; they can't get their footing, and quickly become controlled by events. By the time they realize their every step has been not just watched but directed from the beginning...it's too late.
Warren Beatty's Joe Frady, a minor reporter in the Northwest, begins investigating the deaths of witnesses to a political assassination he'd covered three years before. He stumbles upon literature from The Parallax Corporation, an outfit he comes to believe are clandestinely recruiting & training assassins; he decides to penetrate the group as a 'job applicant', armed with a mass-murderer's psych-test responses and a false identity. He has made a slight but fatal error in judgment, however, for Parallax are in the business of identifying and grooming fall guys - custom-built, designer patsies to draw attention from their trained cadre of actual assassins during the deed, then to be killed in the ensuing melee. Ingeniously, Parallax carefully select appropriate moody-loner backgrounds that will satisfy official inquiries into the murder that the killer was a certified strange-o, thus acting alone.
The first half of PARALLAX plays like a standard macho action picture: barroom brawls, car chases, grouchy editors, redneck cops, sexually forthright women swarming over the studly maverick hero. Stay with it, however.Read more ›
Released during the height of the Watergate revelations and just a few years after the assassinations of the sixties, "Parallax" played on the general public mistrust of the government, politicians and big monolithic corporations.
Director Alan Pakula ("All The President's Men") gives the film a stunning visual style (the reporter hero (Warren Beatty) is continually shown being dwarfed by the large Parallax steel and glass headquarters)and the short film Beatty is told to watch as he attempts to infiltrate the Parallax conspiracy remains one of the best moments ever in a feature film.
The quality of the DVD is superb (especially considering the film is almost 30 years old), images are sharp and clear.
However,considering the film's dense subject matter, one would have hoped Paramount would have included some additional special features (interviews with political activist Beatty, screenwriters Lorenzo Semple Jr. and David Giler; making of featurette etc).
Example: the final shooting script of "Parallax" is completely different from the original screenplay that was written by Semple; Beatty changed the character of the hero from a small town cop to an investigative reporter.
The only special feature included on the DVD is an well produced 1974 theatrical trailer.
However, the widescreen version of the film is a far improvement over the pan and scan version available on VHS.
Conspiracy buffs still find "The Parallax View" one of the best films of the genre.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This was quite a good film for its time (1974) dealing with political assassinations and the conspiracies that led to them. Read morePublished 1 month ago by R. K.
This slow-moving but intense, stylish, visually sumptuous political thriller directed by Alan Pakula (best known for Klute, All the Presients Men, and and Sophie's Choice) somehow... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Jon Corelis
This is still a great mystery and action film after all of these years. Warren Beatty is very good and so are Hume Cronyn and William Daniels. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Paul Manfredi
Warren Beatty is either one slightly scattered individual or brilliant at portraying his role… I believe the latter! Read morePublished 4 months ago by ClarityOfMind
Everyone should see it. Remember the Warren Committee. I fear for Trump. Just because I'm paranoid does NOT mean they not out to get him.Published 5 months ago by Anthony J. Mercurio
Fascinating movie that holds up well over time. It does not have a Hollywood ending which makes the whole story even more compelling.Published 5 months ago by Aldonaj