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When I first saw this movie, I loved it. Having recently seen it again after
several years, I found it to be every bit as good as I remembered in fact,
better. So I thought I would visit IMDB and see what others had to say. I
learned four things;
1/ This movie was a flop at the box office. Funny, I had always assumed it was a hit it was so good, and spawned three (soon to be four) sequels and a television series.
2/ I expected some to be less than entranced with Highlander, but was interested to learn that there are those who think it complete rubbish.
3/ Some people think the sequels are good movies. How could they?
4/ Some people don't like the Queen soundtrack. How could they not?
It is always interesting to see different viewpoints, especially when they are completely contrary to your own. But for me, this movie was perfect. The premise was intriguing, the story was beautifully told, the joy and pathos of an immortal amongst mortals revealed with great skill. There was great action, romance, the tragedy of love lost and the baddest of bad guys to overcome.
The casting was excellent, as was the acting. Sean Connery's contribution was exactly as it should have been, and no more. Clancy Brown's performance as The Kurgan was joyfully terrifying, Christopher Lambert was spot-on.
The screenplay was excellent, as was the script. I was especially impressed with the way that flashbacks were interwoven with the ongoing story. In fact, this is the only flashback movie I have ever liked.
I was also thoroughly impressed with the action sequences. Unlike so many recent movies, none of the action involved the physically impossible (with the obvious exception of the fact that the immortals were immortal, of course). This added enormously to the appeal, in direct contrast to so many movies made in the last decade. I despair when I watch movies where people perform the impossible. Even the classic scene `Oh, I'm falling but it's OK, I can just grab this rope/branch/flagpole/whatever, and even though I have fallen 30 feet and am travelling at 20 mph, I can just stretch out my hand and arrest my fall as though I was no heavier than a feather' destroys all credibility in the action. I know, this is a fantasy movie anyway, so what does it matter? Well, realistic action is even more important in fantasy movies; it helps the audience to willingly suspend disbelief. This is very difficult to do when you are busy giggling at the latest fantastical feat you have witnessed. No such concerns in this movie the action was perfectly judged to reflect the prowess gained from centuries of experience, whilst avoiding the impossible and the ridiculous.
I was intrigued to find one user comment on IMDB criticising the use of `unnecessarily large and heavy weapons'. Anyone who has used (or even picked up) any edged weapon will be aware that they are very heavy. Moving that kind of mass means lots of momentum, and involves very distinctive body movements to counterbalance the weight. Most movies use toy weapons plastic, fibreglass or wood and the lack of mass shows in the actor's movements. For the uninitiated, this may make for flashier and faster action but for those who know, it looks like children playing pretend. The use of weapons with real weight in Highlander adds tremendously to the realism. It was particularly impressive that the actors could use the weapons properly (at least to the extent demanded by the choreographed scenes and that is all that is required for movies). Clancy Brown (as The Kurgan) deserves special praise here he had the largest and heaviest weapon, yet wielded it like a veteran. One can only imagine the endless hours he spent perfecting his movements and balance.
I do understand why some would find the soundtrack intrusive, but for me this was another area that was perfectly judged. Queen's songs enhanced the mood of the moment whenever they played. One related fact that some might find interesting a few years ago I saw a list of the top ten best movies for music as voted for by students. Highlander made the list the only non-musical to do so. (In fact, I think it came in the top five.) So I would guess that the soundtrack works for most people..
I also understand why the accents in the movie (Christopher Lambert's and Sean Connery's) are a problem for some. However, I was happy with Lambert's accent; it was Scottish enough for the Highland scenes, and suitably indefinable for the modern settings. Sean Connery was, of course, Sean Connery he never adopts any accent other than his own. But that's OK it doesn't detract from the film, any more than it detracts from any of his films (such as Red October). I tend to agree with his point that accents don't matter emotions are the same, regardless of nationality.
Just a quick word about the sequels disappointing. I am not one to decry all sequels as inferior. In fact, many sequels are very good, and some are better than their progenitors. However, the Highlander sequels were without exception very poor. The original film was obviously conceived as a one-off, and was all the better for it. The story was complete with Highlander, and the sequels were necessarily contrived. However, Highlander II exceeded all expectations in this regard. The plot changed the story of the immortals beyond all recognition. Egregious just isn't a big enough word to describe it.
The sequels are best viewed as being entirely separate from the original. If you haven't already seen them, be prepared for a decidedly tepid experience.
But Highlander itself ah, there's a real movie. Sit back and enjoy!
Highlander is an ingenious and very entertaining science fiction film
which has come in for rather a lot of (unwarranted) scathing criticism.
Although the plot jumps around with reckless abandon, the scripters
Gregory Widen, Larry Ferguson and Peter Bellwood manage to pull in all
the loose ends by the climax. The word "confusing" has been used to
describe the film quite often as well, but if you stick with it the
confusing moments are explained quite cleverly towards the closing
reels. This is, in fact, not a bad film at all. I'd venture to say it's
a pretty good one.
The opening sequence has Russell Nash (Christopher Lambert) at a wrestling match in New York's Madison Square Gardens. He leaves early, and while walking through the underground car park is confronted by a man with a sword. Nash is not perturbed by this - he merely brandishes a sword of his own, and the pair of them fight to the death, resulting in the decapitation of Nash's opponent. Slowly, we learn (via flashbacks) that Nash is an immortal swordsman who has spent centuries duelling with like immortals. The only way they can die is by decapitation at the hands of one of their counterparts. Each swordsman has spent the whole of history pursuing the others, hoping to be the last one alive whereupon he will gain mortality, virility and vast knowledge.
The film is very energetic (what would you expect from a former music video director?) with dazzling camera work and a pounding, Flash Gordon-style soundtrack by Queen. Sean Connery has a pleasant supporting role as an immortal who teaches Lambert the art of swordplay, and Alan North has a funny part as a bewildered cop who can't figure out why headless corpses keep turning up in his city. The film's intentionally muddled structure is slightly irritating on the first viewing, but with repeated viewings it becomes more comprehensible, even clever. Highlander is a good, inventive piece of hokum.... and it's a real shame that those very same critics who are always grumbling about the lack of cinematic imagination these days didn't give it some merit when it was first released.
I didn't get this film at first audition. I thought the acting wasn't great. But something about the film kept pulling me in. When I watched it again I fell in love with the movie. Its full of romance, heroism and over all loss. A very involving and emotional film. The Queen song "Who wants to live forever" never fails to stir emotions. The battle scenes are also very good. What also makes the film work is the casting. The Highlanders all look very brave and fearless not to mention scarred. Also the costumes are fantastic. I'm mo expert on the exact clothing for Highlanders in the 16th century, but they looked pretty good to me. I had no real feelings about Scotland before I watched this film, But after the film got under my skin it was the next place I visited. I was amazed to find that there really is a Glen Finnan on the shore of Loch Sheil. And I can say first hand that it is a truly historicaly magical place.
When I first saw this film, I thought it was great. Connery is good,
Lambert does passably well, the effects are good, the idea of a bunch
of special individuals who had known about each other (and in some
cases, liked each other) for centuries being drawn together, knowing
that only one could come out alive. The effects were, at the time, good
and had not been flogged to death. I even enjoyed the introductory
Then came Highlander 2, a film which deserved its place on the Bottom 100 and the nadir of Sean Connery's career. As someone else said about that film: "don't break every rule you set up in the first film." Even the series didn't do that. And the reputation of the first good film suffered.
Separating the first film from the bad sequels, and a series that a lot of people can take or leave, it is still a good film. Unfortunately, a good idea was taken and flogged to death afterward.
It does exactly what a movie is supposed to do! It lets your imagination run away with you. It lets you forget all your worries for a time. The music is Fantastic!!! It is haunting and relaxing at the same time. Sean Connery is of course, wonderful in his part. Christopher Lambert has a way of making you feel what he feels. The scenery is utterly gorgeous. The special effects are very well done.Makes you want to live forever and at the same time glad that you don't! Worrying about getting your head cut off sure makes our bills seem like such tiny little problems! Great entertainment!! A must see for the fiction fan.
The first time I saw this movie I knew it was going to be a lifelong favorite. With all the years that have gone by since then, and the repeated viewings I have given it, The Highlander still remains one of the best pieces of film I have ever seen. There are enough fight scenes to satisfy the most adamant of action movie fans, and there is an incredibly touching scene with Lambert and Beatie Edney (Heather) when she is dying of old age, Connor is still youthful in appearance, and the Queen song "Who Wants To Live Forever" is playing in the background. It still brings tears to my eyes when I see Connor in modern day New York lighting a candle for her on her birthday. The swordplay is extremely well choreographed and the sets are remarkable. To be fair, the special effects are not what I would consider up to the standards of the day, however the writing and acting is more than enough to make up for it. If you want to see a movie that doesn't NEED special effects to make it worth watching, this is one for you.
Still, one of my favorite movies of all time, especially if I watch the director's cut. Forget the sequel. Forget everything but the first movie. This was Gregory Widen's first screenplay about a world of darkness. It's great fun, but if you're looking for a FILM, just watch the scene cuts. Please, please ignore any of the franchise movies. Highlander succeeds because it's an '80s movie. The special effects, while not novel, were solid. The swords alone are why I watched this movie in my young years. The writing and the acting are why I've come back. As an aside, I know three people who can quote Highlander in its entirety. That's solid, too. It's an epic movie, plowing through the years. Epic battles, and an epic storyline.
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.
In 16th century Scotland, immortals fought against each other, in a
quest for the prize of being the one remaining at the end of the
centuries of fighting. Conner Macleod (Christophe Lambert) is trained
in the art of sword fighting by Ramirez (Sean Connery) in hope that one
day one of them will fight and defeat the Kurgen (Clancy Brown) The
story is set over 4 centuries and stretches from the highlands of
Scotland to the streets of New York.
Firstly the cinematography in the highlands captures the breath taking scenery beautifully, the story is captivating fantasy, with dialogue and direction to suit the theme, and the cast all perform well enough to entice you into the story and hold your attention, without ever really excelling. Finally the soundtrack is provided by Queen, and it genuinely adds to the emotional feel of the film in quite dramatic style.
Highlander is a very good movie, that has its flaws; but in fantasy, does it really matter? However the sequels are far too contradictory and contrived to be given the same forgiveness. This film really is the only one; and its stands alone without the need for its inferior sequels.
Highlander is perhaps the definitive modern-day, non-horror fantasy adventure. The use of flashbacks within the story is perhaps not unique, but the concept sees its full fruition here. Such integral "flashback storytelling" would later be borrowed by many movies and TV shows (the Highlander series itself, Forever Knight, and Outlaws among the latter). Everyone is well cast, from the major roles (Lambert, Brown, Connery, Hart, and North) to the minor roles (Peter Diamond, Hugh Quarshie, Sheila Gish, and Christopher Malcolm, among others). Of necessity, must be seen in the Director's Cut version. Various web sites also have the further "missing scenes," including the Kurgan's battle with Immortal Yung Dol Kim, and Kastagir and MacLeod actually having that party they mention.
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