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Preview Image for Wild At Heart (Special Edition) (UK)
Wild At Heart (Special Edition) (UK) (DVD Details)

Unique ID Code: 0000078562
Added by: Stephen Morse
Added on: 4/12/2005 23:01
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    Review of Wild At Heart (Special Edition)

    9 / 10


    Even before he made `Wild at Heart`, David Lynch was in a very enviable position. The proceeding decade had started with the critically acclaimed and relatively (being the operative word) mainstream `The Elephant Man`, and had ended with no less than the televisual opus and epoch defining behemoth that was `Twin Peaks`. Filling up that ten year gap was the similarly unnerving `Blue Velvet` (1986) and the over ambitious Dune (1984). Yet, with such cinematic bravado comes an old and oft-cited problem; when you`ve pushed both yourself and the cinema goers to the very limit, where the hell do you go next? The answer, of course, is off `on the road`.

    `Wild at Heart` is one of Lynch`s more accessible works, managing to (sometimes unsuccessfully) restrain the `weird`, and rely more on iconic Hollywood imagery and good old fashioned smart-talkin` heroes and villains. For those who require signposts, the best analogy would be a cross between `Pulp Fiction`, `Natural Born Killers` and `The Wizard of Oz`, or fantasy violence with a fair measure of memorable lines for the `quote obsessed` contingent within the audience.

    The story, loosely based on Barry Gifford`s novel, is essentially a road trip following the misadventures of Sailor and Lula (Nicholas Cage and Jurassic Park`s Laura Dern) as they amiably break parole, impersonate Elvis, and fall pregnant - all to the backdrop of revelatory flashbacks and small-town insanity.

    Whilst they try to escape the trappings of Lula`s mother`s evil ways (played by Dern`s real life mother, Chinatown`s Dianne Ladd), they are traced by the hitmen she hired, and seem certain to meet a sticky end as a result of the web she has weaved. Well, that`s if insane crook and casual rapist Bobby Peru (Willem Dafoe) doesn`t see to them first …

    Winner of the prestigious Palme D`or at the Cannes Film Festival, `Wild at Heart` gave all the actors involved a good kick-up-the-career, and in the case of its two main stars, gave them a critically acclaimed launch pad off which to rocket skywards into the stratosphere of multi-million dollar roles.

    The quiet tragedy of this is that neither of them quite managed to capture the fully absorbed method acting of their 1990 Lynch master-class.


    The picture has been stunningly restored to look as good as anything made today, a process which the director claims took a staggering 18 months. Every frame has been re-coloured in order to give maximum viewing pleasure; a task which it manages with ease.

    The only disadvantage of this is that, because the picture looks so modern, you forget that the film is now fifteen years old. Therefore, the special effects (particularly the fairy godmother appearing from he sky) are a slight let down, despite their age. Other than that, the attention to detail and overall look of the picture is quite simply stunning and make repeat viewings a necessity.


    Famously using Chris Isaac`s sublime `Wicked game` to its full potential, the audio aspects of the picture are further enhanced by Angelo Badalamenti`s soaring and rather dazzling score. There is no more to say than `Top marks all round`.


    `Wild at heart` has been available on DVD for a couple of years (you can read a review of the previous release on this very site), but the original version was criminally devoid of any extras, making the Special Edition not only welcome, but god damn essential!

    The features included are as comprehensive as they are interesting. These are - The 30 minute `Love, death, Elvis and Oz` (making of …) featurette, Devil`s Lunch counter (extended interviews), Image Gallery, `Specific Spontaneity`: Focus on David Lynch, David Lynch: on DVD, original EPK featurette, TV spots and `Theatrical trailer`. Wow!

    The documentaries and interviews are lovingly compiled, and show the actors and crew exhibiting a great deal of respect for Lynch AND a great deal of respect for the finished product. In fact, they are so great, that you`ll want to go back and see the entire film again for the bits that you missed. I did.


    `Wild at Heart` is one of those second tier modern classics. It`s not `American Beauty`, `Lord of the Rings` or `Lost in translation`, but it`s tall enough to pull on their pigtails.

    Lynch`s odd rendering of an existing novel, complete with his own acid-baked visions of Oz and `The King` help to set it apart from its road movie competitors, and the depth of the actors` commitment to their characters makes it a brutally open and honest fantasy - a seemingly contradictory genre that could only ever exist in the work of this one director.

    But, thank the lord, that`s not all it is. In amongst the clever American observation and twisted imagery lies a fair few laughs. Naturally, these are often the colour of tar and involve a great deal of laughing AT the characters rather than with them, but jokes are jokes - and `Wild at Heart` hides them in Tupperware boxes tucked at the back of the fridge, so that the audience feels proud to have located them.

    Lula`s most famous line in the picture is her observation towards the end - that `this whole world`s wild at heart and weird on top`, a set piece that featured elsewhere in the novel. Whilst her statement applies to her predicament at that very point in time, it neatly summarises Lynch`s approach to filmmaking and this DVD in particular.

    The fact that it is released just in time for the Christmas market is nothing short of brilliant. I like to imagine the whole family sitting down after the Queen`s Speech and knocking `Wild at Heart` into the player, with the majority of the living room outraged, and secretly intrigued. And when I do, I smile.

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