Walker [Criterion Collection] [DVD] [1987]

Alex Cox's Walker, an audacious and bitterly funny fusion of political satire and historical epic, was savaged by many puzzled critics upon its initial release in 1987, but the film's partisans finally get their day in the sun with this DVD release of the movie from the Criterion Collection, which allows it to be seen to its full advantage for the first time since its poorly handled theatrical release. Walker has been given a widescreen transfer to disc, letterboxed at 1.85:1 and enhanced for anamorphic playback on 16x9 monitors; director Cox approved the transfer, and it certainly makes the most of David Bridges' richly dramatic camerawork. The audio has been mastered in Dolby Digital Mono, and the multi-layered sound mix is well served in this edition, especially Joe Strummer's musical score. The dialogue is primarily in English, with no multiple language options, though optional English subtitles are included. As is their custom, Criterion have included a variety of relevant bonus materials, including "Dispatches from Nicaragua," a fascinating documentary on the making of the film which combines behind-the-scenes footage, interviews with the cast and crew, and observations from Nicaraguans observing this recreation of their history. Also featured are "On Moviemaking and the Revolution," a spoken-word piece in which a bit player in the movie talks about both radical cinema and the presence of a film crew in Nicaragua; an extensive portfolio of still photos taken during Walker's production; a commentary track in which Cox and screenwriter Rudy Wurlitzer talk about the film, its influences, and its political stance; the original theatrical trailer; and a short subject in which Cox reads and comments upon a number of Walker's reviews. The beautifully designed booklet that accompanies this release also includes an essay on the film by Graham Fuller, an article Wurlitzer wrote to accompany the film's published screenplay, and a remembrance by actress Linda Sandoval on the challenges of shooting Walker in a nation at war. After years of languishing in obscurity, Criterion's DVD release finally gives Walker the care and exposure it deserves, and hopefully this will allow this fascinating work to be reevaluated at a time when the issues it addresses are as relevant as ever.
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Overview

Special Features

  • New, restored high-definition digital transfer, approved by director Alex Cox
  • Audio commentary with Cox and screenwriter Rudy Wurlitzer
  • Dispatches form Nicaragua, an original documentary, about the filming of Walker in Nicaragua
  • On moviemaking and the revolution, reminiscences twenty years later from an extra on the film
  • The immortals, behind-the-scenes photos
  • Cox on Walker's reviews
  • Trailer

Synopsis

Walker
Alex Cox directed this hallucinatory bio-pic starring Ed Harris as 19th-century American adventurer William Walker, who abandoned a series of careers in law, politics, journalism, and medicine to become a soldier of fortune and eventually a Nicaraguan dictator. When his deaf wife (Marlee Matlin) dies of cholera (but not before she utilizes sign language to tell Walker "To Hell with Manifest Destiny"), Walker is backed by multi-millionaire banker Cornelius Vanderbilt (Peter Boyle) to lead a band of mercenaries to Nicaragua in 1855 to make the country safe for Vanderbilt's steamships. When Walker subdues the Nicaraguan opposition, he sets himself up as president and rules the country with unfeeling repression. Finally the Nicaraguans rise up against him, figuring out that "the mad gringo is ripping us off." ~ Paul Brenner, Rovi

Cast & Crew

  • Ed Harris
    Ed Harris - William Walker
  • Marlee Matlin
    Marlee Matlin - Ellen Martin
  • Peter Boyle
    Peter Boyle - Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt
  • Blanca Guerra
    Blanca Guerra - Yrena
  • Keith Szarabajka
    Keith Szarabajka - Timothy Crocker
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