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A Midnight Clear (1992)

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Commentaries on this disc:

Commentary 1: Screenwriter/director Keith Gordon and actor Ethan Hawke Rating:9.0/10 (1 vote) [graph]Login to vote or review
Reviewed by frankasu03 on August 18th, 2016:Find all reviews by frankasu03
A superb commentary, submitted by Director Gordon and star Ethan Hawke. Recorded a decade removed from the release of "A Midnight Clear," that length is perfect for these (now) Directors to reflect on their "war" (with a small 'w') film. The tribulations of bringing William Wharton's novel to the screen are recounted by Keith Gordon. "Midnight Clear" is actually a harrowing "intimate" story that did not lend itself to the usual "World War II" epic production. Substituting the Ardennes with the Wasatch Mountains in Utah, the cast and crew found themselves battling one of the coldest winters on record. The production almost landed in Yugoslavia, however, there would be no guarantee of snowfall, and this humble $4 Million dollar feature couldn't afford to create their own snow. If you listen to Keith Gordon on his other tracks, you realize he is never searching for something to talk about; if the "on-screen" action doesn't warrant commentary, he freely recalls anecdotes from the production, like how John C McGinley landed a trailer, or how the film's release was adversely affected by the "L.A. Riots." Ethan also contributes greatly, especially in relating his fears as a young actor. He vividly recalls a cut scene that he was not adequately prepared for, and how that experience shaped him as an actor. As Gordon adds, this phenomenal cast came about after endless searching, and providing Gary Sinise with his first theatrical role was not without difficulty. Every actor between Hollywood and New York wished to be a part of 'Midnight,' and the casting sessions saw figures as varied as David Spade and Brad Pitt. The two discussions that elevate this commentary to "elite" status involve Steven Spielberg and the nature of "War" films, and whether they glorify a horrific enterprise. Regarding the former, Gordon and Hawke note that Steven Spielberg used this script to audition his cast for "Saving Private Ryan." Gordon is ever the diplomat in stating the reason he was never considered to direct "Band of Brothers," or why Ethan wasn't asked to read for 'Ryan.' Filmmakers, by and large, are inspired by certain works, and then need to distance themselves from them, for fear of being labeled a "copycat." That walk along the "high road" by Gordon is very admirable. When the two take a few minutes to discuss War films in general, you appreciate the tone of "A Midnight Clear" even more. The pair commiserates on their favorite films in the genre, and both admit a fondness for "All Quiet on the Western Front." Two friends, speaking as both artists and actors, revealing the ideals and hard realities of filmmaking. Yes, "War is Hell," and even the "just" War against the Nazis was fraught with peril and horrific blunders. Recreating that reality on a low budget was equally taxing. 9/10