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An one hour documentary about the problems in the making of Oliver
Stone's "Salvador" (1986), "Into the Valley of Death" is an powerful,
brutal and honest look on not only the film, based on a true story, but
also the whole brutality that took place in El Salvador in the 1980's
with dictatorships financed by U.S. government.
Featuring interviews with Stone, James Woods, James Belushi, Richard Boyle (the journalist who lived the experiences that later became the movie, he's portrayed by Woods on screen) and the U.S. Ambassador in El Salvador at the time Robert E. White, the documentary presents a small background of what was happening in the country; the difficult process of making the movie on location there and also in Mexico; the budget problems that made Oliver Stone refuse his payment in order to assure all the horses he needed for a battle scene, among other disasters and problems.
What fascinates me the most here is how candid the interviewers are, specially the actors frankly speaking about the duel of egos they had with each other, and their dislike for the real figures they were portraying in the movie, of whom they met in a disastrous party. But the best testimony comes from the ambassador, arguing about how different his persona was portrayed in the movie (Michael Murphy's character) and is views on how bad the Washington bureaucrats acted in El Salvador, denying or overlooking the killings and abuses committed by officials and the government.
Purely informative, with very good footage from the movie's behind the scenes and also some disturbing images of the real deal in the Central America's country, "Into the Valley of Death" will make you look at Stone's film in a different way, more respectfully and more thoughtfully. You'll really need to watch it again and examine that your perception on it will be changed. This is featured as bonus material of "Salvador" DVD. 9/10
Written, produced, and directed by Charles Kiselyak, for inclusion as a
special feature in the 2001 release of the film "Salvador" (1986) on
DVD. A frequent Oliver Stone documenter, Mr. Kiselyak is sympathetic
with Mr. Stone's political points. "In the Valley of Death" features
interviews with director Stone, star James Woods, writer Rick Boyle,
co-star James Belushi, and (then) Ambassador to El Salvador Robert
They provide insight in several areas - mainly, they reveal behavioral problems among the film's personnel, and delve deeper into the political view that the United States, during the first Ronald Reagan/George Bush "regime", encouraged brutality. The statements, by Reagan officials, suggesting that the American nuns somehow invited their gruesome rape and execution (an incident the film recreates) are particularly damaging.
**** Into the Valley of Death (6/5/01) Charles Kiselyak ~ Oliver Stone, James Woods, Rick Boyle
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