Discs Are Rated
Click above to purchase "Salvador: Special Edition" at
review by Zach B.
Running Time: 123 minutes
Starring James Woods, Jim Belushi, Michael Murphy,
Elpedia Carrillo, Cindy Gibb and John Savage
Screenplay by Oliver Stone and Richard Boyle
Directed by Oliver Stone
Retail Price: $24.98
Features: Audio Commentary with
Director/Writer/Producer Oliver Stone, Into The Valley Of
Death Documentary, Deleted Scenes, Photo Gallery, Theatrical
Trailer, Collectible Booklet
Specs: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English 5.1 Dolby
Digital, English Mono, French Subtitles, Spanish Subtitles,
English Closed Captions, Chapter Search (16 Chapters)
1986 was a good year for Oliver Stone. He had two giant
and "Salvador" which actually came first. Both were critical
successes, and each did score some Oscar® nods. While
"Platoon" walked away with Best Picture and overshadowed the
two nominations "Salvador" got (Best Screenplay Writen
Directly For The Screen and Best Actor for James Woods),
there's really no denying Stone put out two of his best and
most memorable movies that year. "Salvador" is incredible,
so let's look into it, shall we?
The year is 1980, and the backdrop is El Savador where a
horrific civil war is going on. Richard Boyle (James Woods)
has recently been fired from his journalist posistion, so
he's looking to get back on his feet for work so he can
bring in the dough. He heads down to El Salvador, where
Boyle finds that he's in the right place at the right
time... sorta. As the true-life events begin to unfold that
include the assination of Oscar Romero. While Boyle begins
to form alliances and must choose between sides of guerillas
and the military, he also begins to learn about himself and
the tragedy of it all. As it all comes together, Boyle
becomes more and more humane. The result is a stunning and
compelling picture that captures the mind and effects of
Oliver Stone co-wrote the screenplay with the real
Richard Boyle, and the result is fascinating. While I'm sure
the actual characters are a bit more exaggerated, the true
life events seem to be mostly dead-on and pretty accurate.
The writing here is really sharp, as Boyle obviously knows
what he did and the events that he experienced. The dialogue
is sharp and true, while the movie has an even feel to it.
Every scene here is necessary, as they are well timed and
flow well to make up one great movie. It really begins
intense and really becomes interesting, as this movie shows
off good themes and the horrors in El Salvador. It's just
very natural. Stone's direction is just as good, with some
great shots, great editing and a solid feel and look to the
film that is all his own. He really captures the essence.
And to think there are deleted scenes that last over twenty
The performances in this movie are great. Woods delivers
one of his best performances ever as Boyle. He captures the
sleaziness of the person, the ego and the values he begins
to develop. Boyle develops a passion and a truth to himself,
as other people and their problems touch his life. He's
intense, he's great and knows where to take the character.
It's a remarkable fit as Woods really deserved the nod.
Supporting performances, from Jim Belushi, Cindy Gibb and
John Savage are pretty great. I also loved the Georges
Overall, "Salvador" is one of Stone's best films and
captures the time and horror, and the perspective of a man
who would forever be changed with the events. If you haven't
seen it, this is one movie and DVD worth checking out.
Wow! The 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen "Salvador" transfer
is incredible! For a fifteen year old movie, I really didn't
expect it to look this good! Jeez, what a clean-up! MGM has
always done good transfer, but it looks like a recent movie
fresh out of theaters. The only complaints I have about this
transfer is shimmering and are the pieces of dirt and
blemishes that pop up now and then (and never distract),
other than that, this transfer is pretty much perfection and
near-reference quality (yep, it's that stunning!). There's
no edge enhancment to be found, great black levels, great
color saturation, some fine detail and a really sharp and
clean look to it. I didn't really notice any grain either.
Just mind-boggling if you ask me.
MGM also sports an English 5.1 Dolby Digital track, the
original English mono track, English closed captions plus
French and Spanish subtitles. The 5.1 one is very strong mix
and has a lot of flavor to it, and really gives you the
feeling of what it offers. While some will really prefer the
original mono, it sounds its age and this remix is great
with much crisper audio and more plentiful surrounds. Music
is well mixed, but the real surrounds come into play in the
action scenes later on. Sounds there come to full life and
you really feel caught in the action, and give the speakers
a good jolt. Sounds can be pretty powerful and .1 LFE is
great. Overall, really impressive as you get the whole aura.
Fires burning, footsteps... it's splendid. Unfortuantly, the
film's burned in subtitles have been replaced by the DVD
subtitles which sucks.
MGM has delivered another nice special edition for a
film, and they provide some worthwhile in-depth supplements.
The Audio Commentary with Oliver Stone is just what
we need, as once again Stone offers one great track. He
offers great production insight, information about shooting
the film, a lot of praise for the cast and crew, but most
importantly, he really gives some great historical insight
and extra background information about the real events.
Stone points out what really happened and what didn't, so
this is pretty valuable. There are a good deal of pauses,
but to get the full story it's worth sitting through.
Into The Valley Of Death is a fine documentary
that's rather in-depth. Video footage of people in El
Salavador is a main feature here, but there's a lot of
insight as Stone and Boyle are interviewed and talk about
how Stone got interested, the writing process and how the
shoot came to be. Clips from the film are featured, as well
as on the set footage. Interviews with James Woods and Jim
Belushi are also featured, as well as others. Yet the main
draw is how well edited and put together all of it is. It
covers the real events, the shoot, the impact, the script...
there's just so much to absorb and really gain out of this
documentary. Truly one of the best I've seen on the format.
It's in non-anamorphic widescreen letterbox.
Never before seen Deleted Scenes are presented.
They're in full frame and edited, but they really look their
age. They're a great addition, but the quality is just
terrible. Still, they're nice scenes. There are no
explanations for the cut, but these could fit back into the
The "On-The-Set" Photo Gallery has forty-six
photos to browse, while you got the Theatrical
Trailer in anamorphic widescreen (and all beat up) plus
a nice, informative Collectible Booklet inside.
"Salvador" is a great movie and MGM has provided a worthy
special edition of this Oliver Stone classic. By all means,
check it out!
(4.5/5 - NOT included in
(3.5/5, NOT an average)