From Here to Eternity on DVD
A classic, and "Best Picture" Oscar-winner, the movie offers a look at
army life just before the US was thrust into World War II by the Japanese
attack on Pearl Harbor.
Set on a US army base in Hawaii in 1941, it follows the life of Private
Prewitt (Montgomery Clift, in an excellent performance) as an army bugler
whose past ghosts cause him to refuse to fight for the company's boxing
This causes him to be a marked man in the company, whose commander wants
more than anything to win the boxing title that'll be up for grabs in
December. He's treated shamefully, forced into the most menial of army
work and made to do forced marches and other physically taxing routines
in order to "convince him" that he should put his principles aside and
box "for the good of the company."
Meanwhile, the CO's lonely, ignored wife (Deborah Kerr), whose husband
regularly and openly sleeps around, begins an affair with his tough-as-nails-but-fair-and-principled
sergeant (Burt Lancaster), while on his few times allowed off base, Prewitt
falls in love with a gold-digging club hostess played by Donna Reed.
There's a lot of boozey characterization in "From Here to Eternity,"
as the characters unwind off duty, and the actors play drunk very well.
In fact, all of the acting is first rate: supporting players Frank Sinatra
(whose portrayal of the Italian-American friend of Prewitt helped revitalize
his then-moribund career) and Donna Reed both won Oscars while Ernest
Borgnine, as the vicious and mean-spirited stockade sergeant, is remarkable.
The film actually won eight Oscars, including Best Picture, Director,
Screenplay, and Cinematography.
The film culminates with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, rousing
everyone in one horrible moment from their complacent peacetime routine
to a war footing they really weren't prepared to be on. And in that one
moment, these peoples' lives go from worrying about what to drink next
to rising to the challenge of the gauntlet thrown down before them by
the Imperial Japanese fleet.
The climactic attack opens with a frightening shot of a Japanese Zero
(well, while there's some authentic footage in the scene, the made-for-the-movie
shots use North American Harvards to double as Zeros) swoops in low over
the parade square, strafing a chilling line of death across the ground
which catches a single ill-fated dogface in its lethal burst.
Then all hell breaks loose
Okay, the attack scene isn't as well done as in the 2001 "Pearl Harbor"
with its Industrial Light and Magic effects, but the movie on the whole
is a towering and shattering achievement as it shows the sleep giant's
awakening much in the manner that the September 11th attacks on the U.S.A.
shook the country from its self indulgent complacency, giving it a reality
check it isn't soon to forget.
The DVD is presented in its original full screen aspect ratio, which
means people with 16x9 TV's will have to zoom it to fill the screen if
they don't want to watch (or burn in!) bars to each side of the screen.
Still, the digitally mastered black and white picture is excellent, and
the Dolby Digital mono sound is very good as well, considering recording
methods back in the early 1950's.
Extras include an audio commentary by Tim Zinneman (the director's son)
and Alvin Sargent (longtime friend of the director and a player in the
film). There's also a "making of" featurette, an excerpt from "Fred Zinneman:
As I see It" as well as production notes, filmographies and trailers.
From Here to Eternity, from Columbia Tristar Home Video
118 min. black and white, full screen (not 16x9 TV compatible), Dolby
Starring Burt Lancaster, Montgomery Clift, Deborah Kerr, Donna Reed, Frank
Produced by Buddy Adler,
Written by Daniel Taradash, Directed by Fred Zinneman
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