I have spoken a lot about the music and movies that influenced me in my youth. Each one has formed something in me that, over time, has made me the person I am today. Some were just fun films that I loved, others were amazing albums that resonate with me to this day. Today’s Key Movie is sort of a two-fer. Not only was it one of the most impactful films of my youth and a film that I still love to this day, it also had a soundtrack that was the culmination of the bands I had been getting into. This was a movie and an album that simultaneously blew my mind. So without further delay, this is The Crow.
Today’s Key Movie:
‘People once believed that when someone dies, a crow carries their soul to the land of the dead. But sometimes, something so bad happens that a terrible sadness is carried with it and the soul can’t rest. Then sometimes, just sometimes, the crow can bring that soul back to put the wrong things right.’
This is the story of Eric Draven (played by the late Brandon Lee). Eric and his fiance Shelly Webster are planning to get married but one fateful night that all comes to a tragic end. Eric and Shelly are violently killed and one year later, Eric Draven returns from the dead as The Crow, seeking revenge on the people who killed him and hurt his fiance.
Why this movie?
When I first saw this film I was immediately entranced, having already devoured the soundtrack, I found that it absolutely riveting. This was a dark, gritty story based on a comic book written and drawn by James O’Barr (which I soon tracked down,read and fell in love with), that had the music I was just discovering as it’s soundtrack, what wasn’t there to like?
I did not see this film in the theater either because our local three screen theater wasn’t showing it or my father couldn’t be bothered to take us to see it. Either way, when it came to VHS, I had to see it and I insisted that we rent this film. After mush debate and teenage angst, as my father didn’t have any interest in it, I finally paid my own money to rent and watch this movie. Finally finding a time where I could enjoy it without the annoyance of my younger siblings, I dove into a film that blew my young mind.
In addition to loving the soundtrack, I had heard the stories of how this movie was based on a comic and how the lead actor, Brandon Lee had perished during the making of the film. Rumors abound about how and why he died, with the internet still in its infancy it would be several years until we all discovered the truth. However, the mystery and intrigue around this film by director Alex Proyas was palpable. To add to the intrigue around this cursed film the soundtrack was something else to behold.
As I mentioned in this weeks music review, We didn’t realize it at the time but, for the first time ever, someone had built an album of songs specifically chosen for a film. Sure, music has always played a part in cinema but no one had ever dedicated an entire album of songs as a soundtrack to a movie before. Having songs from Nine Inch Nails, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Stone Temple Pilots, The Cure and many more, this album represented a slice of life in the 90’s occurring the same year that Nirvana ended with the death of Kurt Cobain. It marked a kind of Post Grunge moment in time that only now I can truly appreciate. Music also plays a key part in the character of Eric Draven as he was in a band known as Hangman’s Joke. Throughout the film we see some of these elements incorporated into the character with his use of a guitar and a specific song that causes an old friend to recognize him.
Okay, you like this film, but is it really a ‘good film’?
I can not say too many good things about this film. Starring the late Brandon Lee as the title character, Ernie Hudson as the kindly Sgt Albrecht and the intimidating Michael Wincott as the villainous Top Dog, this is one of those films that is beyond perfect, it is timeless and seems to also be a film that can never be improved on…nor should it.
The story itself is one of revenge and redemption. You see, Eric Draven (Lee) is killed in the attack on him and his fiance. Nearly one year later he returns with the help of a crow to set the wrong things right, i.e. kill some bad guys. Now most films would treat a quasi-supernatural revenge film like this as an action film from start to finish, but filmmaker Alex Proyas saw something in the source material that others may have missed, he found a deeper story of love and hope.
Eric’s sole purpose in his return is to end the lives of those who raped and killed his fiance, brutally murdering Eric in the process and, once this is done, he can be rewarded with his final rest. Upon learning that there were greater powers involved and they threaten those who are still alive, he strikes out only to find himself risking eternal happiness with his beloved Shelly (Sofia Shinas). This is something he needs to do as, should these people remain active, he can never rest, and Shelly would want him to do what he could to protect those who were still alive. Additionally there are subplots involving a street cop looking to do the right thing in a city full of corruption and even another involving a mother and daughter who begin to repair their relationship. It is a deep and rich film and one that demands multiple viewings.
The cinematography of the film is nothing short of incredible. Some of the parts are seen through flashbacks as Eric has the ability to pull memories and pain from those he touches (we also learn he has the ability to share this as well). There are even moments where we see through the eyes of his guardian spirit, the Crow itself. It is such a unique way of telling a story while also keeping with traditional film techniques. This really made me look for more of Proyas’ films and I have since become a fan of his work.
The entire cast in this film is spot on in their execution. It is abundantly apparent that each and every actor in this film wanted to release something special. From the eerie performance of Bai Ling as Myca, the love/half sister of Wincott’s Top Dog, the subtle intensity of Tony Todd as Grange, to the ground level street punk Sarah, portrayed by Rochelle Davis, everyone is in the moment in every scene.
One callout is the former Ghostbuster, Ernie Hudson, who plays Officer Albrecht. Hudson plays a down and out cop who, knowing he is up against a corrupt world does all he can to be a good man. It is when Draven arrives that he gets to find his purpose and Hudson does an incredible job in this roll.
There have been several sequels made (even a TV series) and attempts at remakes but, no matter what, this original release is one that can not be improved on, nor should they.
OK, where do I get this movie?
This is one that has been available on just about any format you can ask for. I recommend the Blu Ray release as the digital transfer is spectacular plus you can get it for around $10 these days.
If you haven’t seen it yet, I recommend grabbing a copy and watching it now. It is a work of art.
Of course, the trailer:
For further info on The Crow I highly recommend picking up a copy of the comic series. It is well worth your time.
Late To The Game 11/1/18
If you would like to read more reviews please check out the rest of the Key Movies Of My Life that comes out every Thursday.
For some retro TV goodness check out the rest of the Retro TV Reviews here. and, If you dig Music, I have a semi regular series called Stand Out Albums that covers some of my favorite records I have come across in life.
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