Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Oliver Stone|
|Produced by||Oliver Stone
|Written by||Oliver Stone
|Music by||Georges Delerue|
|Edited by||Claire Simpson|
|Distributed by||Hemdale Film Corporation|
|Box office||$1.5 million|
Salvador is a 1986 war drama film written by Oliver Stone and Richard Boyle, and directed by Stone. It stars James Woods, James Belushi, Michael Murphy, and Elpidia Carrillo, with John Savage, and Cynthia Gibb in supporting roles.
The film tells the story of an American ex-IPN journalist and one-time author of the 1972 book "The Flower of the Dragon: The Breakdown of the U.S. Army in Vietnam, covering the Salvadoran Civil War who becomes entangled with both leftist guerrillas and the right wing military while trying to rescue his native girlfriend and her children. The film is highly sympathetic towards the left wing revolutionaries and strongly critical of the U.S.-supported military, focusing on the murder of four American churchwomen, including Jean Donovan, and the assassination of Archbishop Óscar Romero by a death squad. The film was nominated for two Academy Awards: Best Actor in a Leading Role (Woods) and Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen (Stone and Boyle).
- James Woods as Richard Boyle
- Jim Belushi as Doctor Rock
- Michael Murphy as Ambassador Thomas Kelly
- John Savage as John Cassady
- Elpidia Carrillo as María
- Cindy Gibb as Cathy Moore
- Tony Plana as Major Maximiliano Casanova
Veteran photojournalist Richard Boyle has been taking his camera to the world's trouble spots for over 20 years; while he does good work, Boyle's fondness for booze and drugs, and his colossal arrogance, have given him a reputation that's left him practically unemployable. Broke and with no immediate prospects, Boyle and his buddy Doctor Rock, an out-of-work disc jockey, head to El Salvador, where Boyle is convinced that he can scare up some lucrative freelance work amidst the nation's political turmoil. However, when Boyle and Rock witness the execution of a student by government troops just as they enter the country, it becomes clear that this war is more serious than they were expecting. Increasingly convinced that El Salvador is a disaster starting to happen, Boyle eventually decides that it's time to get out; but he has fallen in love with a woman named Maria, and he doesn't want to leave her behind.
Box office and critical response
In 1986, the film grossed a total of $1,500,000 in the United States.
Salvador was popular among critics, but unsuccessful at the box office. As of January 28, 2013, the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes records an average response of 92%, based on 24 reviews. Roger Ebert, a film critic for the Chicago Sun-Times gave the movie three stars out of four and wrote, "The movie has an undercurrent of seriousness, and it is not happy about the chaos that we are helping to subsidize. But basically it's a character study—a portrait of a couple of burned-out free-lancers trying to keep their heads above water."
Walter Goodman of The New York Times wrote an unfavorable review and described the film "As an adventure film, Salvador has plenty of speed, grit and grime" and "Taking his cinematic as well as political lead from the work of Constantin Costa-Gavras, [Stone] offers an interpretation of history, laying blame on conservative forces in the United States for abetting the horrors in El Salvador."
In spite of the film's failure at the box office, the film garnered two Academy Award nominations for Best Actor in a Leading Role (James Woods) and Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen at the 59th Academy Awards ceremony. This was credited to the actions of "Z Channel", an Los Angeles based pay cable station, which acquired the TV rights to the film and aired it on regular rotation during the month of December 1986. The station's championing of the film helped raise its profile and resulted in earning the two Oscar nominations.
The Region 1 special edition DVD was released on 5 June 2001, and includes the following bonus features:
- Commentary by director Oliver Stone
- 62 minute documentary "Into the Valley of Death"
- Eight deleted scenes
- 46 production photos
- Original theatrical trailer
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