Revolution: The Director's Cut
Revolution: The Director's Cut
(Hugh Hudson, 1985)
Reviewed by Dave Lancaster
Summary: Altered drastically by Al Pacino's newly recorded narration, Hugh Hudson's renewed civil war epic 'Revolution' demands rediscovery.
'Revolution' was always a strange epic. Set against the backdrop of the American Revolution, 'Chariots of Fire' director Hugh Hudson filmed his huge production like an independent. Handheld, gritty, from the floor and unapologetic in its style, this is no period drama ala Kubrick's 'Barry Lyndon'.
Audiences of the time didn't respond to the treatment or oddly cast star Al Pacino's cocktail Irish/New York accent. The misunderstood film flopped badly and was forgotten for over two decades before Hudson took another shot at it for the official home entertainment release.
Changing the edit and recruiting Pacino to add a poetic, tired narration, the director's cut is personal and vital while still retaining the narrative drive of a powerful father/son bond. The clash between the elder Pacino's calm voiceover and the vibrancy of the film's dirty production makes for an interesting blend. Indeed, the clash of eloquent turns of phrase and poverty now plays like a Dickens novel.
Nastassja Kinski's rich girl determined to breathe the horrors of war for herself still rings false, but Pacino's part is strong. Even more so thanks to the nuggets of character development that his narration adds. His work here as Tom Dobb, the reluctant participant in the revolution who only cares for his son Ned (Dexter Fletcher) is excellent. Memorable too is Donald Sutherland's stuffy military man. Technically, the film is incredible.
How this wasn't acknowledged at that year's Oscars for its score, costumes, sound, art direction and cinematography is a shocking oversight. The narrative may challenge and Hudson doesn't make it easy, but there's gold to be mined here. This film deserves its flag waving higher. The BFI's Blu-ray may just win that battle.
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