23 November 2012

Southern Comfort Blu-Ray Review

Southern Comfort (1981) is a film directed by Walter Hill, best known for The Warriors, The Driver and his long-lasting involvement in the Alien series. The film is very influenced by Deliverance (1972), which is not unsurprising since Hill has said numerous times that John Boorman’s earlier film Point Blank (1967) and especially its screenplay was a revelation for him—so obviously he had also seen Boorman’s Deliverance.

In a nutshell, the story is about patrol of the Louisiana Army National Guard who are out on training maneuvers in the swamps. They deeply upset the local Cajun population, so badly that eventually the swap-dwellers want to kill the Guardsmen, who then need to evade capture (in other words, not dissimilar to the rafters versus hillbillies plot in Deliverance). It stars Keith Carradine, Powers Booth and Fred Ward, and also features Peter Coyote. Southern Comfort is one of the last American films of that era to touch on the post-Vietnam conflict.  Co-screenwriter David Giler said he knew from the get-go that it would be seen as a metaphor for Vietnam. Giler has worked continuously with Hill, most notably on Alien.

It is a well-shot film, and also notable for its good score by Ry Cooder. Cooder has collaborated with Hill several times, and is also well-known for his score for Paris, Texas (1985). The cinematography of the Louisiana bayou is excellent, making you feel that you are actually there.

Southern Comfort is a solid man-against-nature and man-against-man thriller with obvious political undertones. When it came out it was not very successful, much like most of Walter Hill’s films with the obvious exception of his work on the Alien franchise, but over the years it has grown in stature. Many people consider it a superior film to Deliverance. Although I would not put it above Deliverance, it is well worth watching, especially for a very good early performance by Powers Boothe, who later starred in Guyana Tragedy: The Story of Jim Jones (1980: another little-seen film that deserved to be better known.) Hill remains an underrated director whose early films should be re-evaluated (The Driver, for example, was obviously a major inspiration for last year’s Drive). This is one of his very finest films, and is certainly better to watch in its new Blu-Ray format release from Second Sight Films, which includes a good-quality interview with Walter Hill.

Ian Schultz


BD/DVD Release Date: 26th November 2012 (uk)
Directed By:Walter Hill
Cast:Keith CarradinePowers BootheFred WardPeter Coyote,
Buy Southern Comfort: (Limited Edition packaging) [Bluray] / DVD

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