The Edge (1997 film)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
The Edge
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
Art Linson Productions
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release dates
  • September 26, 1997 (1997-09-26)
Running time
117 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $43,312,294[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.


Charles Morse (Anthony Hopkins), a billionaire with an amazing memory; Robert "Bob" Green (Alec Baldwin), a photographer; and Stephen (Harold Perrineau), his assistant, arrive in a remote Alaskan locale via Charles' private jet, along with Charles' much-younger wife, Mickey (Elle Macpherson), a beautiful fashion model. After landing and boarding the floatplane to finish the journey, Charles opens a wrapped book about survival in the wild, apparently a gift from an employee. The group, who intend to conduct a photo shoot, are the only guests at a lodge. Styles (L.Q. Jones), the proprietor, warns everyone that the region is inhabited by bears and not to leave food uncovered.

At night, Mickey sends Charles to scrounge something from the kitchen. While there, Charles finds a ham left out next to a door open to the outside. Fearing bears, Charles closes the door. While still pumped with adrenalin, he is surprised by the group with a midnight party to celebrate his birthday. Mickey gives him an engraved pocket watch. Bob's present is an expensive hunting knife.

Charles is seen the next day, reading and absorbing the contents of the survival guide. Bob and his team do a photo shoot of Mickey. Charles sees Bob and Mickey kiss, though it is unclear if more than a platonic affection is involved. When Bob's male model gets sick, he and Stephen plan a flight to a different location where a photogenic local man lives. Charles is convinced to go along. At the man's house, they find a note on the door, stating the he has gone hunting about twenty miles further north. Unseen by the others, Bob absentmindedly pockets the note. Before leaving, Charles uses his new knowledge to warn the group to avoid a deadfall outside the cabin. They return to the plane to continue north.

In mid-air, Charles, suspicious that Bob and Mickey are having an affair, cryptically asks how Bob is planning to kill him. Before the conversation goes any further, the plane suddenly hits 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 that a male Kodiak bear is stalking them. They elude it by hoisting a fallen tree to act as a makeshift bridge across a narrow river channel. Stephen and Bob cross first. During Charles' attempt, he falls into the rapids below and Bob grabs him downstream along with Stephen, saving his life. The rescue apparently leads Charles to doubt his earlier suspicions of Bob.

Stephen cuts his leg badly whilst attempting to make a spear for fishing. Charles stops the bleeding with a rag and later asks Bob to bury it. However, Bob ignores the request and leaves the rag exposed where its scent can attract bears. That night, the bear attacks their camp and Charles and Bob are forced to abandon Stephen, who is mauled to death.

Though not an outdoorsman, Charles draws upon his newly acquired and encyclopedic survival knowledge to guide them; and the men work together, bonding somewhat, though an air of mistrust still separates them. Tired and hungry, they find their way back to the river; and Charles produces a field-expedient fishing line. The bear interrupts before they can catch anything, and the two again narrowly escape. While still on the run from the bear, they spot a search and rescue helicopter but fail to signal it in time.

In a moment of despair and hunger, Charles resolves to bait the bear and kill it. Despondent, Bob is rallied to the cause by Charles' admonition, "What one man can do, another can do!", which he forces Bob to repeat. The phrase becomes a battle cry, and the men prepare for the confrontation. Armed with spears hand-carved from tree branches and using a cloth soaked in Charles' blood, they lure the bear into a swinging trap of sharpened sticks, which fails to injure the bear significantly. The men retreat, and the bear begins to maul Bob. Charles distracts the bear, luring him away. As the bear rears up and prepares to pounce, Charles grounds his spear into a crevice and angles it toward the beast. The bear descends and is impaled by its own body weight, saving both men's lives.

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. Charles reasons that the river should lead back to the lakeside lodge, so they test the canoe to see if it is watertight.

Charles offers to make tea and looks for paper with which to start a fire. He remembers the box in his pocket from Bob's gift and pulls the enclosed receipt from inside. As Charles is about to light the receipt to use as tinder, he notices the details (presumably he recognizes Mickey's handwriting, but this is not made clear). Three items had been bought together: the knife Bob had given him, the watch his wife had given him, and a watch for Bob engraved with an intimate message from Mickey. Charles realizes that Bob and Mickey are indeed having an affair and that Mickey has tried to divert his attention. He now knows that Bob is going to kill him to obtain his wealth and wife. Bob drinks to prepare himself, causing Charles to lament that Bob is unable to kill him sober. Bob orders Charles outside; and, as Bob is about to shoot him, Charles maneuvers Bob into stepping backward into the trapping pit.

Bob suffers a mortal wound; but, rather than leaving him to die, Charles transports him downriver in the canoe. They make camp with a fire to keep Bob warm. Bob apologizes for betraying Charles and says Mickey didn't know he intended to kill him. A rescue helicopter appears and spots them, but Bob dies before it lands.

Back at the lodge, as Bob's body is removed from the helicopter, Charles hands Bob's watch to a sober-looking Mickey, his expression telling her that he knows about her adultery. He then enigmatically declares to the gathered press that the other men died, "saving my life."



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]


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
The Edge
Deep Rising
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)



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


  1. ^
  2. ^
  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)". June 23, 2010. Retrieved September 11, 2012. 
  7. ^ Edge, The- Soundtrack details. Retrieved on 2011-05-05.
  8. ^ La La Land Records, The Edge. (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]