Reviewed by Ned Daigle
Rating: 8.5 Beans
s a history lesson, "Revolution" serves a great purpose. Don't get me wrong, for a film that depicts the American Revolution there is little to no revolution going on. The lesson is one that director Hugh Hudson and stars Al Pacino, Nastassja Kinski and Donald Sutherland learned: Make an expensive, rotten film and watch your career spiral downward. Pacino, Kinski and Sutherland recovered. For Hudson....that's another story.
Now, I'm not the most learned person when it comes to the Revolutionary War, but I thought if, for no other reason, I would get a much needed lesson in history. Boy, was I wrong. Except for a sporadic battle or two within its 135 minutes of running time, there is nothing in the screenplay to give any indication of stategy, alliance or even who is winning. "Revolution" feels that the most important focus of this time in history is a lackluster "Gone With the Wind"-esque romance.
The film opens with Tom Dobb (Pacino) and his son Ned on a boat. The hilariously bad and incomprehensible acting performance by Pacino is evident from frame one, he can't decide if he's from Colonial New England or Brooklyn, slaughtering every line in a half-accented mumble. Anyway, Pacino and son are railroaded into serving with the Colonial army against the British. Kinski, also trying (and failing) to enunciate clearly is Daisy McConnahay, the daughter of Irish Tories, who, gasp, defy her parents and side with the Colonists. Sutherland is Sergeant Major Peasy, a British Officer, and he also attempts a British accent, but since he lowers his voice about 8 octaves in the process, everything he says also comes out garbled.
For the rest of the movie Pacino fights a battle, Kinski shows up to help dress soldier's wounds, and Sutherland acts evil, at one point even beats Ned, who has been forced to be a drummer boy, across the feet for no real reason. Richard O'Brien, from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" is another prissy officer who organizes a foxhunt, forcing Pacino and another man to drag a stuffed dummy across the terrain. After another daring escape, Pacino and Ned are taken in by some Indians, who spend about eight hours worth of screen time balming Ned's feet wounds while Pacino murmurs in his ear.
Eventually, the Colonists do win freedom somehow. Everything is explained with exactly one line of dialogue from an off-camera extra: "The French have joined our cause, the war will be over in two weeks!" Pacino and the other veterans are bilked out of the compensation they were promised, and after Pacino is told to take his big mouth to the Congress, Pacino states "My mouth belongs exactly where I put it!" End of movie, time to wake up.
Director Hugh Hudson committed complete career suicide with this very expensive dog that made about $4 at the box office. This from the man who did "Chariots of Fire" and "Greystoke", the directing offers have been extremely few and far between ever since.
"Revolution" is probably the brownest movie in history. All of the costumes are of varying shades of beige and tan, the buildings are covered with soot and grime, every scene is filled with billowing clouds of smoke and dust, the sky is always overcast and it rains a lot. I guess the sun never shined on Colonial America.
This is one ungodly paced fiasco that goes nowhere (but not fast). Hollywood learned a pricey lesson: If you want to make a war movie, it might be a good idea to put a little war into it.
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