Calm Return

A clean and handsome-looking Blu-ray of Phillip Noyce‘s nicely sculpted Dead Calm (’89) will be out on 9.8.09. Hard to believe it’s been 20 years since I’ve seen it. A very tight and well-ordered thriller, to say the least. It’s a little bit curious to consider the way Nicole Kidman used to look. Sam Neill looked so young back then! (Who didn’t?) It’ll be nice to get a copy before I leave for the Toronto Film Festival.

Noyce, currently in post on Salt, his Angelina Jolie Russian spy movie for Sony, told me yesterday he hasn’t yet seen the Dead Calm Blu-ray.

“I spent several months on the original transfer back in 1990,which I presume was used to guide this version,” he recalled. “The original theatrical film was not presented in Dolby Digital surround, just the analogue Dolby SR. Blu-ray consumers would definitely benefit from a remastered 5.1 digial audio track, which could be included alongside the original. I’ve remastered the DVD sound for all my early Australian films in 5.1,including the mono tracks for Newsfront (’78) and Backroads (’77).”

21 thoughts on “Calm Return

  1. A neat little update on Polanski’s “Knife In The Water.” Always wanted to see the rumored original ending though, that was reportedly more psychological and much less Hollywood.

  2. One of my all-time favorites. This was Kidman’s big breakout role and yeah, she was gorgeous. And really good in the part. Billy Zane is hilarious.

  3. Really underrated. I saw it in th theater the year it came out and a couple of weeks ago on cable. Holds up just fine.

  4. Dead Calm is a masterpiece for sure and one of my own absolute favorite films. I often screen it for friends as an unheralded example of genuinely awesome cinematography and cutting (and then there’s the glorious Revell score). As to the original ending, it’s there already in the movie and you can have the experience of it if you simply stop the film prior to what now plays like an epilogue. I do this from time to time when I see it (and it’s one of the films I’ve seen the most over the years) as the Hollywood imposed ending is so truly godawful and almost sinks the more-than-good-will built up by the rest despite the fact that Noyce directed it as capably as possible. In that sense it’s no different than the utterly insane and incoherent original ending to Sliver which he delivered five years later. In that particular case, believe it or not but the studio altered ending is a godsend in comparison.

  5. Speaking of Sam Neill, I finally watched REILLY: ACE OF SPIES on DVD the other day. A fantastic miniseries, directed by a young Martin Campbell, and Neill is terrific in it. DEAD CALM is a cracking thriller as well!

  6. I love this movie and flipped when I heard it was coming to BR. Hooray! It has more guts than just about any mainstream thriller made in the past decade.

  7. See, that’s why I didn’t want to address it too directly. But I guess I can probably say this without too much harm done: it ends with the extreme close up shot which is the culmination and end of the long “search” sequence. Someone says “I’ve found you” and that’s that. Right after that the film fades to black for a second or two anyway and then we get the entirety of the attached additional ending which takes place presumably a day or two later. So, no, it’s before the moment you mentioned

  8. Great movie. Watch it every time it’s on cable.

    I remember having a conversation/argument a few years ago with some guys here who were earnestly defending kidman against claims of surgery/botox.

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