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Simon K Jones
Force: 27955 | Joined: 1st Jan 2002 | Posts: 11683
- Title: Highlander: Immortal Edition
- Director: Russell Mulcahy
- Cast: Christopher Lambert, Clancy Brown, Sean Connery
- Running time: 116 minutes
- Cert: 15 (UK)
- Release: Out now
The 1980s classic is back on DVD, this time as the brilliantly named ‘Immortal Edition’ in a nice tin box. Highlander is an unusual fantasy epic, following the long life of Connor MacLeod (Christopher Lambert) as he discovers his fate to be repeatedly put to the test by other Immortals, fighting to the death until ‘there can be only one’.
There’s almost two films at work here – the modern-day, New York-set finale with the evil Kurgan (Clancy Brown) and flashbacks to MacLeod’s origins in 16th century Scotland. Majorly compelling cinematography brings both settings vividly to life, with the epic, sun-drenched Scottish mountains contrasting hugely with the grimy, shadowy urban landscape. It’s a surprisingly experimental film visually, never taking the obvious lighting option and frequently conjuring up highly memorable images.
Rather confusing matters is the casting, which places Sean Connery – the world’s most recognisable Scot – in the role of a Spanish chevalier, while Christopher Lambert struggles as a Scottish warrior beneath an incongruous French accent. Clancy Brown is far more successful as the villainous Kurgan, delivering a powerhouse performance that contains just the right balance of ham, cheese and danger.
Highlander’s defining trait, however, will always be that it is very, very Eighties. An operatic rock score is provided by none other than Queen and there’s a clear influence from music videos of the day in the lighting, editing and performances. Unlike many other dated Eighties ‘classics’, however, its stylings suit it well and, while undeniably a product of its time, it is still an extremely watchable, if far-fetched, adventure.
Anything that dares call itself an ‘Immortal Edition’ needs to have some seriously impressive features to back up its claim. Accompanying the movie itself is a new commentary from director Mulcahy that is both info-packed and entertaining, detailing every aspect of the production from the innovative camerawork to the questionable casting. Particularly touching is his clear admiration for Queen’s musical contribution, with Freddie Mercury’s life and death never far from his thoughts.
Disc two isn’t quite as successful. A 90-minute Making Of documentary sounds promising but is strangely limited, featuring interviews with only a handful of the film’s cast and crew and suffering from a frustrating lack of archive footage. The interviews are certainly extensive, giving the writers in particular far more screentime than other documentaries would allow, but it becomes a little monotonous and the absence of Mulcahy, Connery, Brown and Lambert is sorely felt.
A much shorter, French interview with Lambert is included separately and is a more interesting affair, with Lambert still genuinely enthusiastic about the franchise’s core concept after all these years. While disc two has a distinct feel of quantity over quality, there’s nevertheless some interesting anecdotes, particularly from the original writer who penned the cult classic before leaving college.
The director’s commentary on disc one and the excellent audio-visual quality of the movie itself make the package worth investigating, especially if you’re already a fan of the movie. If you’ve yet to experience Highlander, you’ll discover a vital part of Eighties pop culture that has stood the test of time and which has already proved to be far more ‘immortal’ than this specific DVD set.