Revolution


2h 5m 1985

Brief Synopsis

The American Revolution as seen through the eyes of a common man and his young son, who get caught up in the fight for freedom.

Film Details

Also Known As
Revolution 1776
MPAA Rating
Genre
Drama
Historical
War
Release Date
1985
Distribution Company
WARNER BROS. PICTURES DISTRIBUTION (WBPD)
Location
Norway; England, United Kingdom

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 5m

Synopsis

The American Revolution, as seen through the eyes of a common man and his young son, who get caught up in the fight for freedom.

Film Details

Also Known As
Revolution 1776
MPAA Rating
Genre
Drama
Historical
War
Release Date
1985
Distribution Company
WARNER BROS. PICTURES DISTRIBUTION (WBPD)
Location
Norway; England, United Kingdom

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 5m

Articles

Revolution (1985)


Hugh Hudson made a big splash with Chariots of Fire in 1981. He followed that up with a serious treatment of the Tarzan story in Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes. It made only a ripple. After that, he took on the American Revolution itself with Revolution (1985), starring Al Pacino, Nastassja Kinski and Donald Sutherland. No splash, no ripple, no nothing. It sunk like a stone. The critics hated it and the public was decidedly uninterested. But then something happened: time passed. And the more it passed, the more people gave it another look. Hudson himself re-edited it and got Pacino to do a whole new narration for the director's cut which, contrary to popular standards, ran shorter than the theatrical cut. Move to the present day and the consensus is that Revolution is a lot better than people once thought.

The story concerns a fur trapper (Pacino) who finds himself connected to the American War of Independence when his son gets drafted into the Continental Army. It's Shenandoah-esque (1965) during the revolution, with Pacino standing in for Jimmy Stewart, only he doesn't get to say, "Now it concerns us!" Still, it's basically the same idea but with a lot more accents, not all done to the degree of exactitude many would prefer. And, of course, Pacino's trapper begins to believe in the fight for liberty beyond his son, becoming a full convert to the fight for liberty.

Despite the fact that Hudson was already noted as a perfectionist, after only two feature films, the studio pressured him to get the movie finished and ready for release by December so it could qualify for the year end awards. The problem was that Hudson was nowhere near being done and was forced to quickly finish the story. To add insult to injury, the studio hated the downbeat ending and forced a happy ending to be tacked on. And so, the rushed version of Revolution was rapidly released and even more rapidly drubbed by the critics. To a lot of people, it felt like Heaven's Gate (1980) all over again.

The reception was so bad that Pacino, a steady presence on the silver screen since Panic in Needle Park in the early 1970s, took a four-year hiatus from the movies. He wouldn't make another until 1989. But was Revolution, that bad even with the happy ending?

Of course not. How could it be? No matter what oft-repeated tales you've heard about the accents, they're as good or bad as any Hollywood production from any era using actors not native to the tongue they're using. Yes, it does throw one slightly off-balance to hear such a strong, modern-day Bronx accent coming from Pacino but to look at it another way, who would want to hear any other voice coming from one of the most celebrated actors in movie history? It would most likely be more distracting hearing Pacino form some type of early Colonial immigrant accent.

And the film itself is visually dazzling. Photographed by Bernard Lutic, it's a film drenched in light and shadow and drained out colors. Not the desaturated colors that became the norm years later, but earthy tones offset by the British and American flying colors of war.

As with his previous work, Hudson's direction is stately and measured. He was never an innovator, instead more of a curator willing to let the story do the work but unwilling to let it look shabby in the process. And at his behest are some of the finest actors in film, from Pacino, to Kinski and Sutherland, but also Joan Plowright and Steven Berkoff. And in smaller roles, Annie Lennox makes an appearance, as well as early turns by Graham Greene and Robbie Coltrane.

Even today, after reassessment, Revolution isn't making the splash Hudson wanted for it. But that could still change. It's worth a second look.

Director: Hugh Hudson
Writer: Robert Dillon
Producers: Chris Burt, Irwin Winkler
Music: John Corigliano
Cinematography: Bernard Lutic
Film Editing: Stuart Baird
Production Design: Assheton Gorton
Art Direction: Jon Bunker, Malcolm Middleton
Set Decoration: Ann Mollo
Costume Design: John Mollo
Cast: Al Pacino (Tom Dobbs), Donald Sutherland (Sgt. Maj. Peasy), Nastassja Kinski (Daisy McConnahay), Joan Plowright (Mrs. McConnahay), Dave King (Mr. McConnahay), Steven Berkoff (Sgt. Jones), John Wells (Corty), Annie Lennox (Liberty Woman), Dexter Fletcher (Ned Dobb), Sid Owen (Young Ned)

By Greg Ferrara
Revolution (1985)

Revolution (1985)

Hugh Hudson made a big splash with Chariots of Fire in 1981. He followed that up with a serious treatment of the Tarzan story in Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes. It made only a ripple. After that, he took on the American Revolution itself with Revolution (1985), starring Al Pacino, Nastassja Kinski and Donald Sutherland. No splash, no ripple, no nothing. It sunk like a stone. The critics hated it and the public was decidedly uninterested. But then something happened: time passed. And the more it passed, the more people gave it another look. Hudson himself re-edited it and got Pacino to do a whole new narration for the director's cut which, contrary to popular standards, ran shorter than the theatrical cut. Move to the present day and the consensus is that Revolution is a lot better than people once thought. The story concerns a fur trapper (Pacino) who finds himself connected to the American War of Independence when his son gets drafted into the Continental Army. It's Shenandoah-esque (1965) during the revolution, with Pacino standing in for Jimmy Stewart, only he doesn't get to say, "Now it concerns us!" Still, it's basically the same idea but with a lot more accents, not all done to the degree of exactitude many would prefer. And, of course, Pacino's trapper begins to believe in the fight for liberty beyond his son, becoming a full convert to the fight for liberty. Despite the fact that Hudson was already noted as a perfectionist, after only two feature films, the studio pressured him to get the movie finished and ready for release by December so it could qualify for the year end awards. The problem was that Hudson was nowhere near being done and was forced to quickly finish the story. To add insult to injury, the studio hated the downbeat ending and forced a happy ending to be tacked on. And so, the rushed version of Revolution was rapidly released and even more rapidly drubbed by the critics. To a lot of people, it felt like Heaven's Gate (1980) all over again. The reception was so bad that Pacino, a steady presence on the silver screen since Panic in Needle Park in the early 1970s, took a four-year hiatus from the movies. He wouldn't make another until 1989. But was Revolution, that bad even with the happy ending? Of course not. How could it be? No matter what oft-repeated tales you've heard about the accents, they're as good or bad as any Hollywood production from any era using actors not native to the tongue they're using. Yes, it does throw one slightly off-balance to hear such a strong, modern-day Bronx accent coming from Pacino but to look at it another way, who would want to hear any other voice coming from one of the most celebrated actors in movie history? It would most likely be more distracting hearing Pacino form some type of early Colonial immigrant accent. And the film itself is visually dazzling. Photographed by Bernard Lutic, it's a film drenched in light and shadow and drained out colors. Not the desaturated colors that became the norm years later, but earthy tones offset by the British and American flying colors of war. As with his previous work, Hudson's direction is stately and measured. He was never an innovator, instead more of a curator willing to let the story do the work but unwilling to let it look shabby in the process. And at his behest are some of the finest actors in film, from Pacino, to Kinski and Sutherland, but also Joan Plowright and Steven Berkoff. And in smaller roles, Annie Lennox makes an appearance, as well as early turns by Graham Greene and Robbie Coltrane. Even today, after reassessment, Revolution isn't making the splash Hudson wanted for it. But that could still change. It's worth a second look. Director: Hugh Hudson Writer: Robert Dillon Producers: Chris Burt, Irwin Winkler Music: John Corigliano Cinematography: Bernard Lutic Film Editing: Stuart Baird Production Design: Assheton Gorton Art Direction: Jon Bunker, Malcolm Middleton Set Decoration: Ann Mollo Costume Design: John Mollo Cast: Al Pacino (Tom Dobbs), Donald Sutherland (Sgt. Maj. Peasy), Nastassja Kinski (Daisy McConnahay), Joan Plowright (Mrs. McConnahay), Dave King (Mr. McConnahay), Steven Berkoff (Sgt. Jones), John Wells (Corty), Annie Lennox (Liberty Woman), Dexter Fletcher (Ned Dobb), Sid Owen (Young Ned) By Greg Ferrara

Quotes

Trivia

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States December 1985

Released in United States Fall January 10, 1986

Completed shooting July 18, 1985.

Began shooting March 18, 1985.

Released in United States December 1985

Released in United States Fall January 10, 1986