The Edge (1997 film)

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The Edge
TheEdgeposter.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Lee Tamahori
Produced by Art Linson
Written by David Mamet
Starring Anthony Hopkins
Alec Baldwin
Harold Perrineau
Elle Macpherson
L. Q. Jones
Bart the Bear
Music by Jerry Goldsmith
Cinematography Donald McAlpine
Edited by Neil Travis
Production
company
Art Linson Productions
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release dates
  • September 26, 1997 (1997-09-26)
Running time
117 minutes
Country United States
Canada
Language English
Box office $43.3 million[1]

The Edge is a 1997 American survival drama film directed by Lee Tamahori and starring Anthony Hopkins and Alec Baldwin. Bart the Bear, a trained Kodiak bear known for appearances in several Hollywood movies, also appears in the film as a vicious grizzly; this was one of his last film roles.

Plot[edit]

Charles Morse (Anthony Hopkins), a billionaire with an exceptional memory, Robert "Bob" Green (Alec Baldwin), a photographer, and Stephen (Harold Perrineau), Bob's assistant, arrive in a remote Alaskan locale via Charles' private jet, along with Charles' much-younger wife, Mickey (Elle Macpherson), a beautiful fashion model. During the next leg of the journey aboard a de Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver, Charles reads a wilderness survival book. The group, at the lodge for a fashion photo shoot are the only guests. Styles (L.Q. Jones), the proprietor, warns everyone about not leaving uncovered food that will attract bears.

At night, Mickey sends Charles to the kitchen. There Charles finds a ham left out next to an open door. He nervously closes the door and is then surprised with a midnight birthday party. Mickey gives him an engraved pocket watch while Bob's present is an expensive hunting knife.

The next day, during Mickey's photo shoot, Charles observes Bob and Mickey kissing, though it appears platonic. The group, minus Mickey, fly to a location to try and recruit photogenic local man Jack Hawk (Gordon Tootoosis), who is also a friend of Styles, for their shoot. The man has left a note on his door stating he is miles away hunting. Bob absentmindedly pockets the note. Before leaving, Charles uses his new wilderness knowledge to warn the group to avoid a deadfall that is outside the cabin. They fly north where the man is supposed to be hunting.

In mid-air, Charles cryptically asks Bob how he is planning to kill him. Before the conversation progresses, the plane strikes a flock of birds and nose-dives into a lake, killing the pilot. Charles, Bob, and Stephen barely reach shore. Because Bob pocketed the note, they are now twenty miles from where anyone will likely search for them.

Lost, wet, and freezing, the three men attempt to hike to a more likely search area, only to find a vicious male Kodiak bear is stalking them. While crossing a makeshift bridge over a narrow river channel, Charles falls into the rapids. Bob grabs him downstream, saving his life, leaving Charles doubting his earlier suspicions about Bob.

The group then try to navigate south using a makeshift compass, made by Charles, but end up in the same place where they made camp after the plane crash. Due to them being hungry and tired, Bob tasks Stephen with making fishing spears so they may hunt for fish, but Stephen ends up inadvertently cutting his leg. Charles stops the bleeding with a rag which he tells Bob to bury. That night, the bear attacks (as Bob had not buried the rag and the bear scented the blood on it) and, despite Charles' and Bob's attempts to drive away the bear, the bear fatally mauls Stephen and the two are forced to run on foot.

Charles draws upon his newly-acquired survival skills to guide him and Bob; they bond somewhat, though an air of mistrust still separates them. Tired and hungry, they find their way back to the river where they construct a trap to catch a squirrel but abandon it after they spot a search and rescue helicopter though they fail to signal it and remain stranded.

Charles leaves Bob to make fire and goes to a nearby small lake to hunt for fish, but is chased by the bear and barely escapes from it. After they lit a circle of fire around them to keep the bear away for the night, the next morning Charles comes to the conclusion that with them being cold and hungry and the bear constantly stalking them, they are not going to make it very far; Charles resolves to bait the bear and kill it. Bob, despondent, is rallied by Charles' admonition, "What one man can do, another can do!". Armed with hand-carved spears, they lure the bear into a trap but it fails to injure the bear significantly. The bear begins mauling Bob. Charles distracts the bear, luring it away. Charles grounds his spear into a crevice and angles it towards the beast as it pounces him, fatally impaling it and avenging Stephen's death. After having a minute to catch their breathes, Charles and Bob feed on the bear's corpse and use it's fur to craft coats, which keep them warm.

Now following the river south, the men find an empty hunters' cabin. Bob rushes in, while Charles notices another deadfall trapping pit. The cabin contains some supplies: liquor, tea, matches, wood, a stove, a rifle with bullets, and a canoe. Bob grabs the rifle, while Charles reasons that the river should lead back to the lakeside lodge.

Charles finds a receipt in his pocket and uses it as tinder to start a fire. As he is about to light the receipt, he notices the three items on it that were bought together: the hunting knife Bob gave him, the watch from his wife, and another watch Mickey bought for Bob engraved with an intimate message reading "For All the Nights". Armed with this knowledge and noticing that Bob is loading the hunting rifle while excessively drinking alcohol, Charles realizes that his earlier suspicions are true after all; Bob and Mickey are having an affair and Bob plans to kill him for his wealth and wife. After Charles makes a remark about Bob drinking due to him not being able to kill him while sober and revealing his knowledge of their affair, Bob orders Charles outside; Bob justifies his actions by claiming that Charles does not deserve Mickey and that the only reason that Mickey is with Charles is because of his wealth; Charles responds that he loves his wife. As Bob prepares to kill Charles and orders him to turn around, Charles refuses to and cleverly maneuvers Bob into stepping backward into the trapping pit, which Charles noticed earlier.

Bob suffers a mortal wound; but, rather than leaving him to die or killing him with the rifle as Bob would have, Charles tends to his wound and transports him downriver in the canoe. He makes camp with a fire to keep Bob warm. After Bob asks Charles why would he save a person like him as he had an affair with his wife and was going to kill him, Charles replies that he did it for the challenge, but Bob knows better and says that Charles never had a friend and he considers Bob his true and only friend, which Charles confirms. Bob apologizes for betraying Charles and says Mickey was unaware he intended to murder Charles. A rescue helicopter appears, but Bob dies before it lands.

At the lodge, as Bob's body is removed from the helicopter, Charles hands Bob's watch to Mickey, his expression indicates that he knows about her adultery. He then declares to the gathered press that the other men died, "saving my life," suggesting that the experience has profoundly changed him and given him a new outlook on life.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Footage was taken primarily in Alberta, Canada. Among the Alberta locations were Banff National Park, Canmore, Edmonton, Thunderstone Quarries, Fortress Ski Resort and Allarcom Studios. Additional scenes were shot in Yoho National Park and Golden, both in British Columbia.[2]

The shooting of the film is discussed by Art Linson in his 2002 book What Just Happened?, later made into a film starring Robert De Niro. Initially called Bookworm, the script was turned down by Harrison Ford and Dustin Hoffman before Alec Baldwin settled on the role of Green. De Niro showed some interest in the role of Morse but ultimately declined. Baldwin's unwillingness to shave a beard that he had grown for the role is reenacted by Bruce Willis in Barry Levinson's adaptation of Linson's book.

Like many other actors who had worked with Bart the Bear, Baldwin was extremely impressed with how well-trained and docile the bear was. Baldwin commented that Bart "should send the film editor a fruit basket every day for making him look so scary."[3] As for Hopkins, who had worked with Bart in Legends of the Fall, he "was absolutely brilliant with Bart," according to trainer Lynn Seus, who went on to say that Hopkins "acknowledged and respected (Bart) like a fellow actor. He would spend hours just looking at Bart and admiring him. He did so many of his own scenes with Bart."[4]

Three months before the film was to be released, the studio felt Bookworm needed a more commercial title. Dozens of others were considered, according to Linson, until the film was renamed The Edge.[5]

Music[edit]

The film's musical score was composed by Jerry Goldsmith, who worked closely with director Lee Tamahori to develop a score more diverse than other works by Goldsmith in the 1990s.[6] Initially, the score was released on CD in 1997, upon the film's release, by RCA Records.[7] Over time, the first release went out of print, leading to La-La Land Records issuing a limited 3500-unit pressing of the complete score,[8] which was also out of print by July 2013. The new release contains 25 minutes of unreleased music and fixes a problem found on the RCA release affecting the track "Rescued", which contained rustling noises during some quieter parts.

The Edge: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Soundtrack album by Jerry Goldsmith
Released September 30, 1997 (RCA)
June 15, 2010 (L-LL)
Genre Film score
Length 38:04 (1997)
66:15 (2010)
Label RCA Records (1997)
La-La Land Records (2010)
Producer Jerry Goldsmith
Jerry Goldsmith chronology
L.A. Confidential
(1997)
The Edge
(1997)
Deep Rising
(1999)
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Filmtracks 4/5 stars link

RCA Records tracklist:

  1. Lost In The Wild (3:01)
  2. The Ravine (4:38)
  3. Birds (2:24)
  4. Mighty Hunter (1:34)
  5. Bitter Coffee (3:03)
  6. Stalking (5:47)
  7. Deadfall (6:15)
  8. The River (2:21)
  9. Rescued (6:04)
  10. The Edge (2:57)

La-La Land Records tracklist:

  1. Early Arrival (1:32)*
  2. Lost In The Wild(s) (2:59)
  3. A Lucky Man/Open Door (1:41)* (does not include the final orchestral outburst as the "bear" bursts through the door, which only lasts for a few seconds)
  4. Mighty Hunter (1:31)
  5. The Spirit (0:36)*
  6. Birds (2:22)
  7. The Fire / Breakfast (2:31)*
  8. Rich Man (0:58)*
  9. The Ravine (4:36)
  10. Bitter Coffee (3:01)
  11. Wound (1:38)*
  12. Stephen's Death (2:26)* (contains an unused ending from 1:45 onwards)
  13. The Cage / False Hope / No Matches (3:34)* (contains crossfades between the three cues, although they are separated in the film)
  14. Stalking (5:46)
  15. Deadfall / Bear Fight (6:21)
  16. The Discovery / Turn Your Back (5:01)* (contains a brief alternate segment at 1:34 – 1:46)
  17. The River (2:26)
  18. Rescued (6:03)
  19. End Title (Lost In The Wild)(s) (1:59)*
  20. The Edge (2:55)

Bonus Tracks:

  1. False Hope (Alternate Take) (1:08)* (alternate of 0:56 – 2:00 of track 13, with more percussion and an additional brass melody)
  2. Rescued (Film Version Ending) (1:19)* (alternate ending of track 18, reflecting the film version)
  3. The Edge (Alternate Take) (3:00)* (alternate recording of track 20)

(* = Previously unreleased)

Release[edit]

Reception[edit]

Upon release, The Edge received mixed to positive reviews from critics. Based on 47 reviews collected by Rotten Tomatoes, the film received a 60% approval rating from critics, with an average score of 6.4/10.[9] Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film 3 out of 4 stars, claiming the filmmakers did well by not going berserk with the action sequences as other films do. But, he did go on to criticize the ending by saying that:

"Having successfully negotiated almost its entire 118 minutes, The Edge shoots itself in the foot. After the emotionally fraught final moments, just as we are savoring the implications of what has just happened, the screen fades to black and we immediately get a big credit for Bart the Bear. Now Bart is one helluva bear (I loved him in the title role of The Bear), but this credit in this place is a spectacularly bad idea."[10]

Home video[edit]

The film was released on DVD on June 4, 2002, and on Blu-ray on May 11, 2010. Both formats contain a non-anamorphic widescreen transfer of the film, with no special features.

See also[edit]

  • Survival film, about the film genre, with a list of related films

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=edge.htm
  2. ^ http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0119051/locations
  3. ^ Robin Berkowitz (September 29, 1997). "Kodiak Moments Steal Show". South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Tribune Company. Retrieved September 11, 2012. 
  4. ^ Foy, Paul (19 May 2000). "Bart the Bear, a veteran of several films, dies at 23". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 4 January 2015. 
  5. ^ Linson, Art (2002). What Just Happened? Bitter Hollywood Tales from the Front Line. New York: Bloomsbury. ISBN 1-58234-240-7. 
  6. ^ "Filmtracks: The Edge (Jerry Goldsmith)". Filmtracks.com. June 23, 2010. Retrieved September 11, 2012. 
  7. ^ Edge, The- Soundtrack details. SoundtrackCollector.com. Retrieved on 2011-05-05.
  8. ^ La La Land Records, The Edge. Lalalandrecords.com (2011-04-30). Retrieved on 2011-05-05.
  9. ^ "The Edge - Rotten Tomatoes". IMDB. Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved September 11, 2012. 
  10. ^ "The Edge". Chicago Sun-Times. 

External links[edit]