(Blu-ray/20th Century Fox/2000) + The Noah (DVD/Pathfinder/1974)
B+/B- Sound: A-/C+ Extras: C-/C Film: C-/B
repeat blockbuster commercial success, Tom Hanks and Robert Zemeckis reteamed
after the major hit Forrest Gump (1994)
for Cast Away, with high
expectations being met at the box office.
Though it is not as discussed as the earlier hit, enough people liked it
to make it a hit and its winning ways as a moneymaker for Fox continues as it
hits Blu-ray as one of their higher profile back catalog releases.
Like Gump playing as a gutted version of
Joel Schumacher’s Falling Down, Cast Away plays out like an
oversimplified version of Robinson
Crusoe, which has been filmed many times.
A man lands up on an island against his will and is stuck there. What will he do? Robinson
Crusoe On Mars was recently reissued by Criterion on Blu-ray (now reviewed
elsewhere on this site) after DVD and even 12” LaserDisc versions, the
variations of the classic book so successful.
However, the most mature and progressive rendering of the tale has
always been Daniel Bourla’s The Noah
(1974) in which a soldier (Robert Strauss) lands on an island and is very, very
the original Daniel Defoe book, the two film versions we are covering here
never have a “man Friday” as the characters are never that lucky. In Hanks’ case, he gets a soccer ball he
names after the company who produced it and makes it his friend, while Friday
surfaces only as a delusional voice (Geoffrey Holder, who was Baron Samedi in
the James bond film Live & Let Die
(also reviewed on Blu-ray on this site) the year prior) in the beginning of a
great deconstruction of the Stevenson book.
Hanks film seems more like a series of sinister ad placements (setting a record
for Fed Ex logos in one film) not so cleverly disguised as a melodrama. That this was a hit and Hanks was so
distracting shows how good an actor he really is. Running a very, very long 144 minutes, he is
likely the only actor at this time the audience would have sat through enough
and tolerated in this weak a film to make it a hit. The message of the film is that there is no
more loneliness or privacy, as long as there is an ad placement and the reach
of U.S, Corporations has saved/warmed the world. That is as silly as it is self-serving,
wrong, inaccurate and condescending as any film since such films were made in
the early 1980s.
The Noah starts with a Biblical quote (so
it cannot be accused of being Left wing propaganda and is not from an era where
such things were predictable politicized) and has the soldier land up on an
island abandoned (were they rescued, escaped, or just died is unknown) by
someone who built a hit and filled it with pictures of Soviet icons and Mao
itself. Note the very idea of communism
is that you are never an individual and always part of the group state. That never stacks up to reality.
Holder is picked as a Friday voice is ironic, playing strong black men in his
films, being an exceptionally strong stage performer and given great voice-over
dialogue from Bourla’s screenplay that is of a proud black man of the Civil
Rights era and not a Stephen Fetchit type.
Without ruining anything, the film continues (in its remarkable 107
minutes) to go further and thoroughly explore all the possibilities of the
Crusoe archetype. All Cast Away can do is waddle in its
silliness, which is comfortable in a disturbingly bad way that should be
reexamined by clearer minds.
conclusions fop both in maturity and substance just confirm these
observations. It is worth adding that
Strauss’ performance is even better than Hanks, which is still good.
AVC @ 33 MBPS 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image was shot in Super 35mm
film by Don Burgess, A.S.C., who made a good looking film looking good
here. The only thing that dates the
image is the dated use of digital video effects. I must admit to a couple of demo moments,
with consistent color and detail in the non-digital shots at their best. I did wonder if some of the outdoor shots
were manipulated for mood purposes and some shots seem to confirm this. The anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 black
and white image on The Noah DVD has
more good looking shots than soft ones, nicely shot by Director of Photography
Jerry Kalogeratos. Pathfinder claims
this comes from the original 35mm negative and there are many shots where it
shows. I hope we see this in HD
eventually, because with a little work on the negative, this would be
incredible in 1080p and up.
Master Audio (MA) lossless 5.1 mix on Cast
Away is the highlight of the film, especially in the airplane crash
sequence. The rest of the mix can be
subtle, but ambiance is well done, Alan Silvestri’s mixed score is clear and
dialogue is cleanly recorded. This mix
was built to last. The Dolby Digital 2.0
Mono is also not bad for its age on The
Noah DVD, with voiceovers a bit forward sounding, but actually a plus
considering the overall age of the optical mono theatrical film release.
Cast Away include a trivia track,
trailer in HD and audio commentary by Zemeckis and crew, while The Noah offers text biographies,
stills and a nice excerpts section of seven pieces from a soundtrack for the
film in Stereo. When Decca issued it as
a 12” vinyl LP record, it was actually in Quadraphonic sound, but this material
is from a ¼” magnetic sub master. Guess
they could not track down a vinyl copy for the 4-track or the master tape.
have seen Cast Away before, only HD
could be the reason to see it again out of curiosity. Most have not seen The Noah in decades and should be considered a must-see for any
serious film or literature fan.
- Nicholas Sheffo