HURRICANE, THE (CE)
Reviewed July 31st, 2000 by Chuck Arrington
“Here comes the story of the Hurricane”-Bob Dylan
The story of Rubin “Hurricane” Carter is one of redemption & the triumph of the human spirit over the forces of tyranny & bigotry. Images of the pain & suffering of a great many peoples at the hands of the majority race beset the earliest part of our Nation’s history. I am speaking specifically about the Native American peoples, Chinese immigrants, Hispanic/Spanish Immigrants, The Jewish immigrants et al. For the purposes of the review however, I’ll be focusing on the plight of the Black people at that time. During the 60’s, a change was coming that would overturn centuries of legalized racism, a “Hurricane” if you will, & in it’s place ensconce laws & government that would work for all people as opposed to a privileged few. Such is the time of the Hurricane.
When two black men murder three white patrons of a white bar, the search for two black men ensues. In this case, any two will do & Rubin Carter & his driver John Artis are arrested, tried by an all-White bigoted Jury & sentenced to life, imprisoned for a crime, they clearly could not have committed. With unfailing courage & unwavering determination, Rubin Carter turned inward & devoted all of his time to bettering his mind & body. For through both of these avenues he was certain, his freedom would come.
It is here where Rubin began to take the events of his life & put them to paper. This “manuscript” became a published autobiography entitled: The Sixteenth Round & it is upon this book & one other that this film is based. As fate would have it, his book came into the possession of a young man (Lesra Martin) who had embarked on an inner search of his own. With the help of several Canadian Activists, he set out to give Rubin the hope; he so desperately needed to carry on his fight for justice in the house of the unjust. With seemingly insurmountable odds, they embark on a journey that will take them through the gritty seedy underside of race hatred to the beauty & warmth of redemption, freedom & justice.
The Hurricane is easily one of the best & most moving films I have ever seen. It will remove the scales from your eyes to show you a world full of anger yet; it provides a glimpse of the truest greatest human component…compassion.
The audio is presented in a 5.1 Dolby Digital platform that does more than support the film; it encircles you & brings you wholly into the middle of the action. The films’ score/music as provided by Christopher Young is incredible & tells a story all it’s own. As this is a dialogue driven feature, the sub is relatively dormant throughout the film, with a few moments of great action, The score provides the bulk of the bass extension. Overall, there are moments when it stirs to life but for the most part, the center & surrounds do the bulk of the work. The only nitpick I have with the audio is that; you cannot switch between audio channels on the fly. You have to go back to the source menu to select the commentary track. Would have been nicer to have the option to switch back & forth seamlessly.
The director’s commentary:
Norman Jewison provides a screen specific commentary for the film that not only provides the usual insights into the creation of the characters & set design & artistic impetus but, he also spends a fair amount of time establishing the time period surrounding the events that led to Rubin’s incarceration. He does a great job identifying the lengths to which Denzel & the supporting cast went to achieve the final presentation. One of the finer points of the commentary is the fact that Jewison becomes so engrossed in the film that he has to first point out a crucial moment & then he “watches” it with the viewer & is just as moved as the audience he’s reaching. Jewison’s commentary is probably one of the best I’ve heard to date!
The video is presented in a simply beautiful artifact-free widescreen anamorphic transfer that is absolutely beautiful. The film has a great many indoor shots that are extremely dark (Primarily the scenes in the “hole”). The blacks were solid & showed not one sign of pixelation or Chroma noise. Additionally, the flesh tones were true & none of the colors bled or looked les than was intended. Definitely reference material.
In true Universal fashion, “The Hurricane” CE has a decent amount of extras. They consist of:
Spotlight on Location: The Making of the Hurricane.
This is an interview segment with Norman Jewison, Denzel Washington, Armyan Bernstein, Deborah Kara-Unger & most importantly, Lesra Martin & Rubin “Hurricane” Carter himself. This is easily one of the cooler segments in that you hear from the man himself, his thoughts & feelings on the book & the film & how he is in awe of all that has transpired.
Deleted Scenes with an intro to each by Norman Jewison
There are five scenes that were edited from the final film primarily due to the length of the movie. With the added scenes the film would have been well over three hours long. With their removal, the film clocks in at 2 hours & 26 minutes. Jewison reflects that he’d rather have them included in the final draft of the film however, after seeing them; all but one was really unnecessary (*spoken solely as a consumer & not a slight on their artistic merit). The did add another level regarding the people who were to help Rubin but, as they were not the true focus of the film, that information could be easily left out with no harm being done to the script of overall feel of the film.
This is the full-length trailer that aired before & during the film’s initial theatrical run. It’s in a full frame presentation & quite nicely done.
Additionally, there are the usual static film recommendations, cast & crew bios & DVD/ROM features
I am always most moved by the re-telling of true-life events as they are based in reality more than fiction. While there is a fair degree of artistic license used to tell the story, the core tenets of the story remain unchanged. “Injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere”. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke those words & they are as true today as they were when he spoke them over 40 years ago. Rubin’s story is one that is mired in the filth of racism & hatred. A quagmire that would have consumed him utterly had Lesra Martin not read his book & sought him out. His is a story that is also about the redemption of the human character & the absolute power of the truth. Denzel is awesomely believable & should have received the Oscar for his role as “The Hurricane”. The transformation he undertook was nothing short of remarkable. The Hurricane works on every single level & easily belongs in every collection of fine films!
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