Saturday, December 4, 2010
The Hurricane. B
If you've listened to Bob Dylan's music, you're probably familiar with his 8 minute-long Hurricane. I've always liked it because it's a song that tells a complete story full of facts, almost like a news article. But while I've always listened to the lyrics, I've never really thought about what they meant. I knew what was going on in the song, but for some reason it didn't pique my interest enough to actually research it. So when I sat down to Norman Jewison's The Hurricane and heard the Dylan song playing in the background, I was absolutely thrilled. For a song I've always loved in such a shallow way, I think it's better to find out its meaning when you least expect to. It just makes it seem all the better. The song sums up everything in the murder case of legendary boxer Ruben Carter up until he goes to prison. The movie does that as well, but then shows us how Carter fought the justice system and gained his freedom. He would never have achieved this if not for the aid of three Canadians and their student, a young black man who brings hope into Carter's life. The Canadians, two men and women, are never fully understood. They all share the same house, yet their purpose is uncertain. It's also a little unclear why they suddenly want to help Carter, which involves moving and devoting hours of time to intense research. The Hurricane is definitely not a smooth ride. It has a rough beginning that tries to fit Carter's life story in while interspersing black and white shots of his boxing days. Then there's the story of the young black student who reads Carter's novel. Is the film about him, or about Carter? Then of course there are the Canadians, who are extremely random, but whose presence is forgivable because they film is based on fact. Though I wasn't fond of the narrative structures Jewison chose to incorporate, I was deeply moved by a lot of things in the film, particularly Denzel's performance as Carter. What a great actor he is, especially because his most important roles are the ones that clearly mean the most to him. If I was Washington, playing Carter would be an honor, and he clearly offers all he has for the role. This movie isn't as tidy as Dylan's song, but it offers something that latter could not: the conclusion to the story.