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Click above to purchase "Salvador: Special Edition" at amazon.com

 

Salvador
Special Edition

review by Zach B.

Rated R

Studio: MGM

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 critical successes. "Platoon," 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 war.

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 minutes!

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 Deleure score.

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 movie. Enjoy!

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 final score)

(4.5/5)

(4/5)

(3/5)

(3.5/5, NOT an average)

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