THE YEAR OF LIVING DANGEROUSLY
Indonesia 1965 is suffering the birthing pangs of a nation desperately seeking to govern itself while presenting opportunity to all of her inhabitants. The resultant course is Civil War. A disaffected leader revels in splendor while the bulk of his people wallow in squalor, poverty and disease. As with any conflict, the press from around the globe is represented by a number of journalists all looking to make a name for themselves by breaking the "BIG" story. Guy Hamilton (Mel Gibson) is one such journalist. Reporting for an Australian news service, Hamilton's news items are little more than soft items that have been covered before and by a great many reporters. He needs an edge and, that edge is found in Billy Kwan. Billy is an Indonesian photojournalist whose images are the things great stories are made of. In Hamilton, he sees a fresh page upon which he can impart his perspectives on the Indonesian political landscape. Wartime in any country is a dangerous place to be irrespective of affiliation. Add to that the negativism generated by the press and you have a slaughter waiting to happen. Such is the case in this time. Factions intent on affecting the rule of law in their country are preparing to land a major blow on the ruling party and Hamilton and Kwan end up right in the middle of the fracas. Aptly titled, the Year of Living Dangerously recounts life for both the active participant and the casual observer, in third world Indonesia during a tremendously tumultuous period of it's political evolution.
The audio on the box is identified as Stereo however, the platform is decidedly Monaural. All of the film's aural information is conveyed solely through the center channel. There are no surround effects and no LFE. The dialogue is very clearly understood and is consistently clear and clean in it's presentation.
The video is presented in a widescreen format that is marred by a host of scratches and flecks throughout the film. On the whole, the colors are well saturated however there are darker scenes where the images onscreen are almost totally obscured, as well as a general washed out look that presents itself on more than one occasion.
The lone extra on the disc is the film's trailer. It's in the same condition as the film and does a rather poor job in representing the film. The images are cut together in a sporadic pattern that really doesn't go to telling the story of the movie in the minute or so that's been allotted. It's more of a collage of information with no discernable central theme.
The Year of Living Dangerously reminded me of The Killing Fields. It has some of the same feeling and they both portray the journalists involved as unfeeling, egotistical psuedo-intellectuals. The differences between the films are vast and for the record, The Killing Fields is a far better film. The Year of Living Dangerously was more about the burgeoning relationship between Gibson's and Weaver's characters as opposed to the integral aspects involved in covering the news in a war torn country. I'll admit, I was looking for more of the latter but enjoyed what the film had to offer. In the sense of stark realism and riveting cinema, there were a couple of segments in particular (the funerary service for the young boy) that really jarred me and brought home the truest point of the film. It's amazing how you can spend 2-3 minutes with an image onscreen and then, revisit it an hour or so later and the emotional level is so gripping that it's almost impossible to contain your emotions. Could be that I'm a father and that image touched me greatly and, it could also be great cinematic movement or a combination of both. Either way, The Year of Living Dangerously was a good film that drug on in maybe a couple of places but the end result was credible. Linda Hunt was incredible and easily the best part of the film. She played a man for the whole of the film and delivered an Oscar caliber performance.