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Why ‘Far and Away’ Is Still a Bad Experience, But Fits Epic


Ron Howard’s “Far and Away” (1992) seems to have aimed, from the very opening moments, of declaring itself the best Irish film ever made by Americans about the Irish.

It began in Western Ireland in 1892. Mikael Salomon’s ravishing cinematography covered the ocean but took us right into a pub, where we heard the drunken lime.

We watch as three red-headed Irish brothers fight. Heck, even the opening title is green! Howard’s film brazenly proclaims his Irish identity, you wonder why he bothers to call it “Far and Far” and not stick with the (better) film title: “The Irish Story” .

One of the three brothers fighting is Joseph, played by Tom Cruise, whose father is about to die. A bedside sit-in takes place, where the camera gives an elaborate POV of “Da” drifting into the afterlife (this camera acrobatics is repeated much later).

After hits like “Splash” and a few mid-range hits, Howard was about to quit his job here and clearly enjoyed painting on the big picture.

Carrying with him his father’s dying words of “Without land, man is nothing,” Joseph begins his quest for revenge. Joseph’s rage against a landowner (Robert Prosky) leads to a number of comedic acts, in which he is bedridden and imprisoned in the home of the land baron.

Shannon, the ferocious daughter played by Nicole Kidman, dreams of running to America and taking Joseph with her as her servant. Shannon told Joseph that, in America, they were giving away free land, so they started participating in the Oklahoma Land Rush.

“Far and Away” was written by Bob Dolman and Howard, who say it was largely based on the experiences of his immigrant great-grandparents. Howard and Salomon famously shot this shot at 70 millimeters, and the movie looked incredible long before the characters arrived in Oklahoma.

The frame is often filled with the kind of detail that you can only capture by filming from a long distance. Before “Far and Away,” Disney’s “Tron” (1982) was shot in 70mm, and Kenneth Branagh’s “Hamlet” (1996) followed.

Seeing this on the big screen during the summer of 1992 was a memorable experience, as the film provided the kind of popcorn spectacle I wanted but also exactly the kind of entertainment my father had come to love. from childhood.

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Howard’s film takes too long to start, as a tough first act piles up so many supporting characters and plot twists that it’s neutral. Thomas Gibson was absolutely obnoxious playing the central villain (he then reappeared seven years later, playing a gratuitous husband opposite Cruise, in “Close eyes) And I enjoyed the dome of the baron of Prosky being a merry cowboy.

Otherwise, the movie will be overwritten.

After escaping a pistol duel, Joseph and Shannon fled the country and made their way to Boston, where the film turned into a nearly half-an-hour bare-knuckle boxing movie. The boxing matches are great – there’s even a shot where the camera rotates around Cruise while he’s in his element punching an opponent, very similar to how Martin Scorsese used to spin around the star in “”Money color” (1986).

Despite the stellar introduction to Colm Meany (as well as a quick cameo from Brendan Gleason – there’s a lot of Irish people in this movie!) and a lot of bloodshed (which is why it’s rated PG). -13), “Far and Away” Like a Disney movie. In fact, it resembles the big Disney-era fiasco of the same year, “Newsies” (the nasty character Dermody feels like a lost Newsie).

The second act ends with the result of The Big Fight and it’s as bad and as bad as this movie. As much as I like “Far and Away,” the story of two immigrants struggling to come to America should have been much more difficult.

The story then begins a whopping eight months later, where we see Joseph working alone in the mountains of the Ozark. At this point, the movie is just as annoying as it is dragging its feet to Oklahoma, since the plot is so clearly established in the first act.

Joseph’s Ghost “Da” appears in a dream sequence – again, I love this movie, but when you have time for Ghost “Da” it’s time to trim your movie, Mr. Howard!

At 140 minutes, this should have been shaved off by at least 20 minutes (although I was warned the 170 minute version would eventually show up during the day on a special re-released version).

After Joseph and the final film (FINALLY!) get Oklahoma, the movie loses the claustrophobic trappings of the Boston part, the possibility of a 70mm kick, and, after collecting for so long, the film comes back to life. motion.

Joseph is reunited by the totem that connected them in the first place: a horseshoe (one of the shapes in General Mills’ Frosty Lucky Charms! Oh, this movie is so Irish!). Joseph wrote a factual line about his love interest: “You’re a mean, Shannon, you’re a common man,” the equivalent of “Far and Away” of “You’ve got me in Xin greet.”

On the eve of the big race, we can feel Howard suffocating a bit to release the grandeur – note how a bomb scene, set in the evening, delivers gunfire, raging bonfires , horses, extra activities, carriages and fireworks. At this point, he feels as uncomfortable as we do.

Then the title tag announces to us “September 16, 1893,” the big day, and we get one of the best shots of its cinematic year. The Oklahoma Land Rush scene, a trickle-down shot on the big screen, is brutal, epic and, yes, truly epic.

This performance’s muscular choreography and meticulous editing keep it from becoming chaotic. In fact, we marveled at Joseph’s horse, the fastest (of course – it’s a Tom Cruise movie anyway), as it darted ahead of the overturning carriages. and exploding powder barrels. This truly epic finale is just too good to forgive the corny final scene.

John Williams’ score is excellent but one of the very few that doesn’t stay in mind. In fact, it’s Enya English/Gaelic’s dreamy ballad, “Book of Days,” that lingers as you step out of the theater.

Cruise and Kidman, in their second movie together and just a few years after their decade-long marriage, both excel at this. That keeps them both very funny as the screenplay gives them plenty of opportunities to showcase their sharp comic book instincts and timing.

While Kidman struggled with an inconsistent dialect, Cruise’s Irish accent was steady, enjoyable to listen to, but almost too much. “I’m eating your chocolate cake” becomes “Oim ettin ‘yer choo-ka-let cake!”

The monologue in which Cruise apparently worked the hardest with his dialect coach came in the form of a lesson on how to wash your clothes by hand, as Cruise articulated the words (“Ya take the sope, en ya ploonge en scrub!”) Such a fresh Guinness World Record casserole.

Man, this movie is Irish.

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Howard is underrated as a director of action films, such as “Willow” (1988), “Backdraft” (1991) and this demonstrates his skill in staging large-scale films. To give Howard the credit he deserves, I never imagined that the “Splash” director would be able to cut out what we saw in the third season.

With the central story being so petty, poor and idealistic outsiders overcoming a affluent class amid a swashbuckling backdrop, Howard’s film, on a story level, has a few things in common with a TV movie. certain Terrence Malick figure. However, the ending wanted to be “Days of Heaven” (1978) and the ending was “Days of Thunder” (1990).

Perhaps the three-hour film “Far and Away” is the richer, harder film about the Irish immigrant experience, though I doubt it. Howard is still years away from the shadows (“His 1996 Ransom was the turning point), and it’s unlikely that his ardent remembrance of his ancestors is more exhausting than we might think. see here.

Still, Howard’s film, as soft as its centerpiece, is worth revisiting. It may not have been a box office hit in 1992 (although audiences gave it an A) and still needed more editing time, but it was a fine medium, underappreciated by both audiences. its star and director.

On its 30th anniversary, it was a love letter to the Irish that couldn’t be better than on Saint Patrick’s Day.





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