Back in 1983, a man named Nicolas Roeg made a film called 'Eureka' with a stellar cast that was based on a real guy in the early 1900s. The guy in question is named Harry Oakes, where a number of adaptations of books, television shows, and movies have been loosely told about his life and death. First though, director Nicolas Roeg is a strange director indeed. His resume includes, 'Performance', 'The Man Who Fell To Earth', 'The Witches', and of course 'Eureka'.
I say that Roeg is a strange director in that a lot of his films included images and scenes that were placed out-of-order, or just randomly placed scenes in order to have his audience try and decipher what was happening in the story. It was a fairly chaotic and unpredictable way of filmmaking, but he developed a cult following and his films still stand the test of time, even though some of them are just far-out weird, including 'Eureka'.
The film tells the story of a man named Jack MacCann (Gene Hackman) who is mostly based on Harry Oakes, who struck gold, became rich, but very paranoid. He moved to the Bahamas to avoid paying taxes on his money. In his 60s, he was found dead in his mansion. He was severely beaten, burned and covered in feathers. To this day, nobody has ever come forward or has been found in his murder, and there have been tons of theories on his death, ranging from gangsters to witchcraft and voodoo. Oddly enough, the film mostly starts out similarly to 'The Revenant', as McCann is in the middle of a cold Yukon, trying to survive in the bitter winter with people trying to fight him and wolves nearby. He really has a will to live and survives long enough to see someone commit suicide right in front of him.
This leads him to take solace in a fortune teller, which leads to him finding all the gold. He becomes rich, but increasingly off-kilter and paranoid. His nightmares become reality for the most part. This is where his daughter Tracy (Theresa Russell) and her lover Claude (Rutger Hauer) come into the picture, where their family dynamic is crude and not loving to say the least. In addition, a mobster named Mayakofsky (Joe Pesci) is trying to get McCann to give all his money to him in order to build casinos. McCaan, Claude, and Tracy all spiral down the rabbit hole, as we see them take part in orgies with snakes, witchcraft, and voodoo, until there is almost nothing left.
The chaotic editing and filmmaking here is somewhat hard to follow, but we can tell where it's going, because Roeg leaves us clues here and there, which sometimes go off on tangents. Some of the images her are shocking and is intended to put the audience in an awkward position, which it succeeds in doing. It;s just that some of the performances and story itself and its execution are little off. Still, for a film of this caliber in 1983, it's still memorable.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
'Eureka' comes with a 50GB Blu-ray Disc that is Region A Locked from Twilight Time and is limited to 3,000 copies. There is a fully illustrated booklet with an essay from Julie Kirgo. The disc is housed in a hard, clear plastic case with reversible box art.
'Eureka' comes with a 1080p HD transfer and is presented in 1.85:1 aspect ratio and looks quite good given that it's more than three decades old. This transfer is from the old MGM archives and looks best when it bright, natural environments. In bright closeups, the detail is quite sharp and vivid that reveals individual hairs on Gene Hackman's face, age spots, and makeup blemishes quite nicely. The wooden fence post and greenery outside the house also look great here, showing the intricate details of each fence post and plant.
There is also a nice layer of grain most of the time here too, but in darker sequences, the grain can get on the heavy side of things, which brings us to that unfortunate business. When the lower lit scenes appear, the image goes soft and somewhat murky. The detail isn't as good and the colors aren't as bright or bold as they are in the well-lit moments. Overall, the colors pop quite well with some nice earthy tones, especially reds and greens. Black levels are mostly deep and inky and skin tones are natural. Due to the age of the film, there is still some dirt, debris, speckling, and minor scratches to contend with. There was some minor video noise as well, but again, it's nothing major, leaving this video presentation with decent marks.
This release comes with a lossless DTS-HD MA 1.0 Mono mix as well as the Music only 2.0 stereo mix. This track won't win any awards and won't full immerse you into this chaotic film, but it does the job. Sound effects and ambient noises are decent sounding, if not on the soft side of things, particularly during the mountain sequences.
Other than that and a few other moments, this is mostly dialogue driven, which the dialogue is always clear and easy to follow. The eclectic score by Stanley Myers sounds good too, and never drowns out any dialogue or sound effects. I wouldn't say this has a ton of depth to it, but again, it isn't terrible. There were no pops, cracks, hiss, or high shrills here.
Commentary with Nicolas Roeg - This is more of a Q&A type of commentary track at the premiere of the film, where people ask the director questions about the movie and he answers, rather than have him talk about specific moments from the film as the movie plays. There is some interesting stuff here, but rather dry. Also, you'll have to turn your speakers up to hear a lot of this.
Paul Meyersberg on 'Eureka' (HD, 54 Mins.) - Here is almost an hour long conversation with the writer of the film, as he talks about making the film, the theories of the real-life guy this is based on, and working with the cast and crew.
Jeremey Thomas on 'Eureka' (HD, 14 Mins.) - Here, the producer discusses getting the film prepped, shooting on location and working with the actors, as well as, the real life person this is based on.
Tony Lawson on 'Eureka' (HD, 13 Mins.) - The editor of the film talks about working with Roeg during production and post-production.
Isolated Music and Effects Track - This is an optional audio track you can choose to listen to the music and effects of the film.
Trailers (HD, 4 Mins.) - Trailers for the film.
Booklet - Twilight Time has included a booklet for the film with an essay by Julie Kirgo.
'Eureka' is certainly strange in its story, editing, and execution. At times, it seems very straight forward and to the point, whereas other times, the film is chaotic and places random images to throw the audience off and make them figure out for themselves just what is going on. That's usually the case with Nicolas Roeg's films though, and this one is no different. Most of the performances are solid, but a little much at times and the story is so out of this world, that you won't believe your eyes. The video and audio presentations here are both good and the bonus features are fairly decent if you enjoy interviews. For the sheer originality and oddness of this film with an A-List cast, this one comes recommended.