Born in the Highlands of Scotland in 1518, Connor Macleod is immortal. When he is wounded in battle but does not die, he is banished from his village. He meets another like himself, Ramirez, who teaches him swordsmanship--the only way to kill another immortal is to take his head--and the ways of the immortals. Modern-day New York is the location of "The Gathering," where Connor and the few remaining immortals must battle to the last for "The Prize." Written by
Jeff Hansen <email@example.com>
I can honestly say that Highlander is one of the most original and affecting stories I have ever had the pleasure of viewing, although sadly not in the cinema. The film has its flaws but the cumulative effect of all the various elements make this a film that is really like no other, and often imitated. There are many elements in the film that were experimental at the time, especially for a genre film. The editing style is much more painterly and nonlinear than what one normally expects. The integration of modern songs in a period setting was handled brilliantly, with the crowning achievement of the film being the "who wants to live forever?" montage, which is an absolutely heartbreaking scene. Anyone who has ever truly loved someone will understand when you see it. One of the refreshing aspects of Highlander is that the movie is not just set up with an interesting concept and becomes a mindless action film from there, but that it actually comments on the questions posed by immortality. With Connor Macleod we are given a fantastic character who is brilliantly realized through Chrisopher Lambert's complex performance. The change he goes through from young, innocent Scotsman to a sad, world weary antiques dealer is a wonderful achievement. I actually feel through his performance how lonely the life of an immortal must be, and how he keeps people at a distance whereas to not get too deeply involved. This film has it's heart in the right place because it comments on the fact that when people lose everything they hold dear, in this case because Macleod will outlive everyone he cares about, they travel inward, cutting themselves off from the world in hopes that they will be spared the pain of seeing the ones they love die. From a story standpoint alone, this is a truly magnificent film, which isn't to say it is lacking in other areas. The camera angles are very inventive and some of the transitions between time frames are jaw-dropping. The musical score by Michael Kamen is lush and romantic, while at the same time allowing for an integration with the songs by Queen that is a tremendously successful idea that in theory you'd never think would work right, but strangely it does so extremely well. There is a wide range of performance in the film ranging from Lambert's subtle, understated interpretation of Connor, to Clancy Brown's flamboyantly theatrical portrayal of the main Villain. Sean Connery also makes quite an impression as Connor's mentor. He is both hilarious and charming, powerful and poignant. The female character's are also handled very well with Conner's first wife Heather being the standout. Highlander has a very odd sense of humor that seems to have come from improvisation from the actors. The entire film has a spontaneous energy that works very well because you never quite know what is going to happen next. This is not a perfect film, and sometimes it tends to fall back on genre stereotypes but the overall effect of the film more than makes up for it. Highlander is one of the more original films ever made, and sadly none of the sequels ever built on that. As far as the Highlander series goes; There can be only one, and this is it.
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