Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Critical Reactions: Revolution


Revolution is one of the most notorious failures of the eighties and the following sampling of reviews reflect that for the most part. There were some positive notices, especially a stirring defense from Sight and Sound, but for the most part the critics had their knives sharpened for the film when it came out. Nastassja thankfully was typically not included in the critic’s attacks on the film. Unfortunately her costar, Al Pacino, took most of the trauma when the blame should have gone to director Hugh Hudson and the screenwriter Robert Dillon. Revolution remains one of the colossal misfires of the eighties and, unlike say Heaven’s Gate, time has not been kind to it.


“As the films of Hugh Hudson get more ambitious, they become duller and more long winded…art without heart is rarely worth the bother…dazzlingly shot…more embarrassing than engaging.”
-David Sterritt, Christian Science Monitor-

“…pretentious mishap…Kinski is completely forgettable…Pacino’s one note performance has absolutely nothing to recommend.”
-Pat Anderson, Films in Review-

“…gloriously photographed….utterly and fatally devoid of a story…the technical side is immaculate.”
-Shelia Benson, LA Times-

Revolution is less interested in organized political strategies than in personal struggle…the film makes its case powerfully and with conviction, exhibiting a scope, imagination and commitment all too rare in contemporary British cinema.”
-Pam Cook, Monthly Film Bulletin-

“…without a script…scrambled footage, epic and medium tedium, missed chance.”
-John Coleman, New Statesman-

“All in the world are making jokes about Revolution…but I found myself almost too depressed to laugh…”
-David Denby, New York-

“It may also easily be the worst (film of the year)…half-hearted….as mind boggling as it may seem there has never been one good or successful film about the most dramatic war in the history of America. Revolution not only fails to remedy that oversite, it sets back the cause 200 years.”
-Rex Reed, New York Post-

“The first words out of Pacino’s mouth makes us cringe…Pacino’s romance with Kinski is only a trifle less preposterous than his performance…a monumental mistake has been made.”
-Joseph Gelmis, Newsday-

“May kill the genre for good…there may be a smashing movie on the cutting room floor but what’s on the screen is a shambles.”
-David Ansen, Newsweek-

Revolution has been unjustly hammered….it’s intention, and it succeeds, is to create a mood…Pacino touches the heart…The note (Revolution) should, if there’s justice, be redeemed in part if not in full.”
-John Pym, Sight and Sound-

“…solemn, incoherent…could achieve the dubious immortality as the campfire classic of 1986.”
-Richard Corliss, Time-

“…sprawling fiasco…Pacino isn’t the silliest aspect of Revolution, it’s his girlfriend (Kinski)…it’s a hoot, but it’s hell on the constitution.”
-David Edelstein, Village Voice-

"The result was such a disaster that the words “Revolutionary War” were not spoken until 2000’s The Patriot, director Hugh Hudson wasn’t given another big studio budget until 15-years later in I Dreamed of Africa and Al Pacino went into a semi-screen retirement before returning in 1989’s Sea of Love.

"A disaster on par with Burton and Taylor’s Cleopatra, Michael Cimino’s Heaven’s Gate or Beatty and Hoffman in Ishtar. To be timelier, it was an even greater disaster than Battlefield Earth."
-Matt Mulcahey, efilm-

"Revolution serves a great purpose. Don't get me wrong, for a film that depicts the American Revolution there is little to no revolution going on. The lesson is one that director Hugh Hudson and stars Al Pacino, Nastassja Kinski and Donald Sutherland learned: Make an expensive, rotten film and watch your career spiral downward. Pacino, Kinski and Sutherland recovered. For Hudson....that's another story."
-Ned Daigle, BMN-

"Revolution is a pointless, frequently cruel train wreck of a movie, atrociously miscast and laughably overmelodramatic, and apparently filmed without benefit of a script."
-FlickFilosopher-

"It's so bad that one suspects there must be a good story behind it. It's not easy to goof on this scale, especially not for Mr. Hudson, the director of the Oscar-winning ''Chariots of Fire'' and the even more interesting and complex ''Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes.'' The fault is not that Mr. Hudson is English or that the film was shot in Britain. There's an underlying wrong-headedness about it that, like senility, is universal in its effects."
-Vincent Canby, New York Times-

"...star-spangled silliness, and one of the biggest debacles of the 1980s."
-James Sanford, Kalamazoo Gazette-

4 comments:

Rogue Spy 007 said...

I never saw this film, but I heard so much negative reaction to it. Plus Pacino didn't act any more until Sea of Love, right?

GAMERA_2004 said...

REVOLUTION always struck me as an incomplete film. There were huge gaps in the narrative with the characters lives interacting without much rhyme or reason.
If the attempt was to recreate a kind of Bretchian history of the American revolution through a series of setpieces, it didn't work. More likely the film was rushed into production without a fully fleshed script.
There was an interesting attempt to recreate the period through music and sets, but the effort was wasted because of the script.

GAMERA_2004 said...

REVOLUTION always struck me as an incomplete film. There were huge gaps in the narrative with the characters lives interacting without much rhyme or reason.
If the attempt was to recreate a kind of Bretchian history of the American revolution through a series of setpieces, it didn't work. More likely the film was rushed into production without a fully fleshed script.
There was an interesting attempt to recreate the period through music and sets, but the effort was wasted because of the script.

Jeremy Richey said...

Thanks Keith,
That's right...Pacino stopped until that ferocious comeback in SEA OF LOVE, a film I really love...

Thanks Gamera,
I totally agree with your thoughts on the film and appreciate you sharing them...sorry about the delay in responding...