SUPER 8 FILM REVIEW
THE FUGITIVE 5x600ft approx. 126mins colour sound Available: check with dealers and second hand lists
The re-telling of the 1960’s TV series starring David Jannson within a two hour blockbuster movie. Received an oscar nomination for best picture.
1993 was a pretty good year for cinemagoers who, like me, enjoy good films with a big budget. There aren’t many recently that fit that category but for a few years in the 1990’s we were flush with them. The year in question also saw the re-release of Ridley Scott’s ‘Blade Runner’ (the special edition version), Sylvester Stallone’s teaming with director Renny Harlin for the incredible ‘Cliffhanger’, another critically acclaimed film from Clint Eastwood with ‘In The Line of Fire’, the classic comedy ‘Groundhog Day’ starring Bill Murray, and finally the first Digital Theatre System (DTS) release of the astounding ‘Jurassic Park’. What a year. It was also the year Arnold Schwarzenneger surprisingly experienced failure with ‘Last Action Hero’.
Dr. Richard Kimble (Harrison Ford), a respected vascular surgeon, is wrongly accused of murdering his wife. The actual culprit, Kimble insists, was a one-armed man with whom he fought in his home one night after returning from emergency surgery. Despite his compelling story Kimble is arrested, found guilty and sentenced to death. And all before the opening titles roll.
He is being transported to prison with other convicts when one of them acts out a seizure as the start of an escape plan. The plan goes horribly wrong, a guard is stabbed, he driver is shot, and the bus goes off the road, down a steep embankment, turns over and over, tumbles though trees, smashes into rocks and lands straddled across a railrway. Just when everything settles down and you think you can breathe again the train comes screaming around the corner. Kimble saves the wounded guard by pulling him free of the bus just in time.
US Marshal Sam Gerard (Tommy Lee Jones) arrives at the crash scene, accompanied by a team of federal agents. He quickly decides that Kimble and the other convict have survived and escaped. Thus begins this thriller which sees the Doctor outwit his pursuers long enough to establish the truth and lead the Marshall to his prey. It’s all jolly exciting stuff, has some incredible stunts (see the dive from the top of the dam into the lake below), is well acted, a good story, and generally a good film all around.
‘The Fugitive’ was the Warner Brothers movie chosen to re-open their flagship operation in the heart of the West End. It doesn’t seem like nine years ago but on the 8th October 1993 I made a visit to the new Warner Cinema to see their latest blockbuster and to check-out the new multiplex. Sadly the new multiplex was a disappointment as ‘The Fugitive’ was being shown in five of the nine studios and the people on the desk couldn’t tell me which was their big theatre – a shame that as they have two big auditoriums boasting THX sound. I had to take a gamble and ended up in a little room up at the top. It had bad seating arrangements whereby you could hardly avoid getting someone’s head in your way and the sound system had been connected up incorrectly - the front left and right channels had mistakenly been directed to the surround left and right channels; it was deafening. Despite these disappointments the film was outstanding and worthy of all the praise being showered upon it.
Following the film’s release on laser disc and later VHS it was accredited with the title ‘killer application’ from dealers selling Dolby Stereo systems for the home market. The train crash sequence was being shown everywhere and people were buying ProLogic systems like hot cakes based on the demonstrations given of this clip. It was open to one criticism everywhere it was shown - when Harrison Ford jumps from the coach just before the train crashes into it, it is obvious he isn’t really there. I have to agree, it is obvious on video; thankfully that is not the case with the film as the colours and brightness of the image are correct and it looks very realistic.
The Fugitive is of course most famous for being the first 8mm release to be shown publicly with Dolby Digital sound. Yes, it was the first DVD available with this sound system that was also available to us on Super 8 and hence it was the only candidate to show off sync pulse with Dolby Digital in the big Victoria Hall at the Ealing British Film Collectors Convention. Derann were quite happy on that day as the ‘killer application’ struck again and it shifted the remaining copies from their stand.
The colour on this release has a pleasing cold look. The picture is very sharp and about as good as possible given the negative was made from a 35mm print. With the exception of ‘Predator’ and ‘Commando’ (probably the most exceptional flat prints I have seen) this one is up there with the best. The sound is mono and of good quality but if sourcing a second hand copy many will have been re-recorded into stereo by now. You could also, if fortunate enough to own a GS-1200, have a go at sync’ pulse. It’s about time that Mr. Wilton gave us another demonstration at the BFCC so give me some time to find my famous ‘Wilton Arm Twisting Device’ and see what we can do at the next convention. Assuming you’re interested in Super 8 with multi-channel digital soundtracks come along and see how it’s done. Between the shows we will hopefully be able to talk individually about any specific queries.
Incidentally I saw a Fuji projector at the recent BFCC with pulse facilties. The machine was much cheaper than a GS-1200 but Mr. Wilton reports that, not unexpectedly, it is not in the same league as the Elmo, is rather prone to scratching etc. but could be a budget way into the best picture quality available for the home market being combined with the best sound (i.e. from DVD); that is assuming pulse sync actually works on it.
Print A/A* Sound A John Clancy