Ed Wood, the Special Edition, on DVD
Tim Burton turns his lens on the man considered by many to have been the worst
movie director of all time in this highly entertaining flick.
Ed Wood wanted to be a moviemaker, a storyteller, and he wanted to create legitimate
works of art. The fact that his most famous film was Plan 9 From Outer
Space, generally considered one of the worst movies ever made, is an indication
of just how much talent he brought to the job.
But he brought other things, too, such as wit and optimism and, well, a penchant
for cross dressing. Not that he was a homosexual, mind, he just as Ray
Davies put it so well a couple of decades back "feels restricted in conventional
clothes. It was from a childhood trauma and it may have been weird, but
it didnt make him any less of a man.
Or so he said, but his tendency and his habit of turning
out crappy films - caused angst with his girlfriend and co-star Dolores (Sarah
Jessica Parker), who eventually walked out of his life and undoubtedly managed
to keep better control of her wardrobe from then on.
The movie covers Woods career from wannabe director through Plan
9" and covers his first major directing effort "Glen or Glenda?"
That, not surprisingly at least as portrayed in Burtons movie
was a film about a man who feels restricted in conventional clothes and is having
trouble living with this secret.
Burton then moves on to Bride of the Monster, another schlockfest,
before recounting the gestation of Plan 9.
Most of the action takes place off camera (as in off Woods camera, but
on Burtons), the behind the scenes story of a man driven to
succeed but not good enough to pull it off. But he never gives up and manages
to finance his projects one way or the other. And some of these quests for funding
are also quite entertaining.
Johnny Depp is terrific as Wood, a charmer with a weird side, but Martin Landau
steals the show with his bang-on portrayal of the aging and drug-addicted Bela
Lugosi. His performance is worth the price of admission, and that isnt
meant to take anything away from Depp.
Also along for the ride is Patricia Arquette as Woods main squeeze after
Dolores bugs out, Jeffrey Jones as Criswell, the fake psychic, Bill Murray as
Bunny Breckinridge a man who wants to be a woman. And watch for Vincent
DOnofrio in a small part as Orson Welles. Hes very good.
The whole movie is very good, highly entertaining and with many good laughs.
Burton shot it in black and white and the movie looks like it's from the 1950s
as if it were a Wood film itself, except that its good.
Burton has done a marvelous job of taking a topic about which few would undoubtedly
care and characters who are uniformly smaller than life and making it work while
making us care about them. And he faithfully recreates some of Woods classic
scenes so faithfully they look as if they were made on the original sets
and with the original actors (well, almost).
The DVD is excellent. Presented in anamorphic widescreen, 16x9 TV compatible,
the black and white image is sharp and clean. We wish fewer young people would
find black and white abhorrent, because it really has nothing to do with the
quality (or lack thereof Plan 9 would still suck in color!) of the film
And sometimes black and white is better! Take a look at the black and white
vs. colorized Night of the Living
Dead to see what we mean.
This special edition is supposedly extended and restored to the director's
original vision, but since we hadnt seen the original we cant
comment on whats new and how it fits in. We can say, however, that nothing
seems tacked on or superfluous and the movie never, ever drags.
Audio is Dolby Digital 5.1 surround, though in keeping with the 50s feel
theres little if any surround use and while all three front channels do
get used, the overall result is of state-of-the-art mono.
Extras include a running commentary by director Burton and "Lugosi himself,
Martin Landau, as well as a selection of deleted scenes. You also get some behind
the scenes stuff hosted by star Johnny Depp, as well as a featurette on the
films outstanding production design,
One interesting featurette is about the use of the theremin, a 50's vintage
predecessor of the synthesizer, for the film's music.
And of course there's more, too.
Ed Wood, from Touchstone Home Entertainment
127 min. anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1, 16x9 TV compatible), Dolby Digital 5.1
Starring Johnny Depp, Martin Landau, Sarah Jessica Parker, Patricia Arquette,
Produced by Denise Di Novi, Tim Burton
Written by Scott Alexander & Larry Karaszewski, directed by Tim Burton.
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