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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.
* - 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
- 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
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There are two factors why this film is "least watched," particularly in the U.S.: the film is a stark condemnation of American imperialism, and there really are no sympathetic characters. Regarding the former, the true story of William Walker's brutal conquest of Nicaragua is a dark chapter in America's history, and its retelling with so many A-list celebrities, particularly Ed Harris in the lead, makes many Americans guiltily uncomfortable. Regarding the latter, "unsympathetic character" movies is what Alex Cox has always done, and done very well.
The Criterion edition includes a fascinating commentary by Cox and writer Rudy Wulitzer that helps explain just how difficult it was to make the film given its artistic goals and socio-political ostracization in Hollywood. Another extra, a "making of" documentary that was shot during filming in the late '80s but not edited until the production of the new remaster, is equally fascinating. The extras alone should be "required watching" for film students.
People who prefer market-driven Hollywood blockbusters likely would hate this film, but a few may find its deliberate departure from the same-old, same-old intriguing and inspiring.
If you are not up on those topics, it should still be very watchable as a character study. Also, it will appeal to movie nerds for the director's Werner-Herzog-esque willingness to get weird within the context of a non-fiction subject. (I don't think it is an accident that Cox went on to direct Fear & Loathing, a film who's real life subject is treated in the same way).
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