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Fearless (1993)

1 rating: 5.0
A movie directed by Peter Weir

When Max Klein (Jeff Bridges) finds himself facing imminent death as his plane hurls toward the ground, he finds inner calm and release from fear in his acceptance of his own unavoidable end. His panic erased, he helps other passengers to relax, and … see full wiki

Tags: Movie
Director: Peter Weir
1 review about Fearless (1993)

Peerless

  • Dec 4, 2003
Rating:
+5
"Fearless" begins with one of the best opening sequences ever: a dishevelled man steps between rows of corn in a cornfield. In one arm he holds a baby, a young boy is holding his other hand. As he emerges from the corn onto an asphalt road, the camera pulls back to reveal what is in the field behind him... the smoking wreckage and human debris of a commercial airplane which has just crashed.

With this memorable beginning, "Fearless" quickly establishes a tone of simple beauty, honesty, and pathos in the face of disaster and tragedy, a tone which is maintained through every single scene. Though the plot of the film is important, this is a movie about people more than about events. The characters are what carry "Fearless" to the end, and the changes they go through as the story progresses are what it's all about.

The main character is the man we first saw in the cornfield. His name is Max Klein, and simply put, his world is turned upside down by the plane crash. Though he survived the crash (and in fact, as the audience learns, saved the lives of several others), he cannot accept the idea that he is still alive. He begins to experience his life as if he were an outsider to it. Something in him is changed, perhaps irrevocably so, and his journey is the main story of the film.

Max is played flawlessly by Jeff Bridges, in perhaps the finest and most nuanced role of his career. Bridges has been good in many films, but in "Fearless" he truly outdid himself. The other actors in the film also turn in excellent performances, from Isabella Rosselini as Max's wife struggling to love the new Max as she did the old one, Rosie Perez as another crash survivor who lost her child in the crash, John Turturro as a psychologist who tries to help Max, and all-too brief appearances by Tom Hulce as a delightfully self-deprecating lawyer representing the crash victims. The acting in "Fearless" is of such quality that the audience can forget that it's acting, and just allow the performances to be real.

Peter Weir's direction, always of high-quality, is honed to fine effect for "Fearless." As always, Weir uses some very powerful imagery to carry the story, but he walks the fine line of never allowing the images to overpower the story. Not a single image is there for its own sake, each shot helps to move the audience towards the conclusion. Weir's careful hand is evident throughout the film, but never moreso than in a stunningly moving plane crash sequence, in which the images have both metaphorical and literal meaning. The imagery of "Fearless" is subtle, but much of it is nonetheless unforgettable.

The music chosen for "Fearless" could not have been better. Maurice Jarre's usual soft touch, an excellent match for Weir's visual style, is used here perfectly. As for the other music... from the Gypsy Kings' joyous "Sin Ella" to U2's striving "Where the Streets Have No Name" to Henryk Gorecki's rich and moving "Symphony No. 3," each piece is chosen for its effect as stand-alone music, and also for how it fits with the images and the plot at that point. The film's climax, set to the Gorecki piece, is greatly enhanced by the music, so much so that it's now nearly impossible to imagine one without the other.

Sadly, it seems that yet another of my favorite films has been given the short shrift in terms of DVD presentation. Still, I simply cannot bring myself to give "Fearless" anything less than what it so richly deserves. There is no question that it is a five-star movie in my book, despite the fact that the DVD is disappointingly weak in terms of presentation. Shown in fullscreen "pan & scan" only, with fair picture quality and no extras to speak of, the DVD for such a fine film as "Fearless" deserves far better than this.

As a film, however, "Fearless" has remained one of my favorites ever since I first saw it. In fact, whenever I'm listing my favorite movies, "Fearless" is the name that almost always pops out of my mouth first. If I have a single favorite movie, "Fearless" would have to be it. For its lyrical beauty, its unique, well-drawn characters, and for the way it brings me to breathless tears every time I watch it, there's simply no other film quite like it.

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