Saturday, October 12, 2013

The Hunger (1983 film)

Based on the novel by Whitley Strieber, The Hunger is the story about a doctor who finds herself in a strange love triangle involving vampires during her research on the world of aging. Directed by Tony Scott and screenplay by Ivan Davis, and Michael Thomas the film is a stylish take on the world of vampires as one of them tries to gain immortality forcing his lover to face the truth as she seeks a new lover. Starring Catherine Deneuve, Susan Sarandon, David Bowie, Cliff de Young, and Dan Hedaya. The Hunger is an entrancing yet hypnotic film from Tony Scott.

The film is about a vampire couple who had been living for three centuries as prey on those to feed on their appetite for blood. Upon learning about a woman’s research on aging and the idea of eternal life, one of the vampires is seeking to know more as he finds himself aging rapidly forcing his lover to think about getting a new one in the woman who had been working on this research. Yet, it’s a film that plays into the idea of eternal life as a man named John Blaylock (David Bowie) deals with his aging as he asks his lover Miriam (Catherine Deneuve) about the aging process as she had previous lovers who had fallen to the fate that he’s about to fall prey to. John turns to Sarah Roberts (Susan Sarandon) whose research on aging has him intrigued but she doesn’t believe that he’s aging until some time later as she attracts the attention of Miriam where she finds herself in a very strange situation.

The film’s screenplay does have this unique structure where the first act is about John and Miriam’s relationship as well as John dealing with his aging as he turns to Sarah for help based on her research. The second act is about Sarah meeting Miriam where the former becomes strangely obsessed with the latter which then leads to the relationship as Sarah is unaware of what Miriam really is. It all would play in this third act where Sarah is forced to deal with her symptoms as well as what she might become. Though its climax would play into Miriam’s claims that she would give Sarah eternal life and to love forever and ever as Sarah would make a decision. Its ending would unfortunately lose some of that emotional impact as well as create some confusion into the fate of its main characters as it is revealed that the ending was more enforced by the studio.

Tony Scott’s direction is definitely a major highlight of the film in not just the compositions that he creates but also infuse with a high degree of style. While it’s a style that isn’t for everyone, it does play into an atmosphere that is sort of Gothic in some respects where the film opens at a Goth disco where the legendary Goth band Bauhaus plays. Scott would infuse the film with some symbolism where the scene of John and Miriam killing their prey that is inter-cut with a lab monkey killing another as it would play into Sarah’s research. Scott’s direction also includes a few stylish flashbacks and some slow-motion action to play out some of the drama and terror that occurs. Even in a very stylish and sort of operatic love scene between Miriam and Sarah that does have this great element of beauty and horror. Despite its tacked-on ending, Scott manages to create a very ravishing yet exhilarating film about vampires and their desire for eternal life.

Cinematographer Stephen Goldenblatt does amazing work with the film‘s stylish photography with its array of shadows and shades to play with its lighting to convey a Gothic mood for the film in many of its interior scenes. Editor Pamela Power does excellent work with the editing as it very stylized with some jump-cuts and slow-motion cuts to play into some of its symbolism and suspense. Production designer Brian Morris, with set decorator Ann Mollo and art director Clinton Cavers, does fantastic work with the look of John and Miriam‘s posh New York City penthouse as well as the lab where Sarah works at.

Costume designer Milena Canonero does excellent work with the costumes from the period clothes that John and Miriam wore to Goth clothes of the time while a lot of the dresses that Miriam wears is from Yves St. Laurent. Special makeup work by Antony Clavet does brilliant work with the makeup to display John‘s rapid aging as he struggles with the fate he might play into. Sound editor Peter Pennell does superb work with the sound to create some unique effects on some of the dialogue as well as some textures to play out the suspense. The film’s music by Denny Jaeger and Michel Rubini is terrific for its chilling, electronic-based score to play out some of the drama while a lot of the music that is assembled by music supervisor Howard Blake features a wide array of classical and opera music from composers like Franz Schubert, Johann Sebastian Bach, Gregorio Allegri, Maurice Ravel, and Leos Delibes as well as some modern music from the Goth band Bauhaus and Iggy Pop.

The film’s cast features some early cameos from John Pankow and Willem Dafoe as a couple of punks as well as Ann Magnuson and John Stephen Hill as a couple John and Miriam meet in the opening sequence that features Bauhaus. Other notable small roles include Dan Hedaya as a police investigator, Beth Ehlers as a tomboy violinist John and Miriam teach, and Cliff De Young as Sarah’s boyfriend Tom who becomes concerned about Sarah’s condition. Susan Sarandon is brilliant as Sarah Roberts as an age researcher who is eager to find a way to slow down the aging process while finding herself becoming attracted towards Miriam.

David Bowie is amazing as John Blaylock as a man struggling with his rapid-aging as he also realizes the fate that he might play that Miriam’s previous lovers have succumbed to. Finally, there’s Catherine Deneuve in a phenomenal performance as Miriam Blaylock as a woman who had lived a very long life as a vampire as she deals with John’s aging and possible fate while falling for Sarah as she seeks to take her as her new lover.

The Hunger is a marvelous film from Tony Scott thanks in part to its Gothic imagery, brooding soundtrack, and the performances of Catherine Deneuve, David Bowie, and Susan Sarandon. While it’s not a perfect film that includes a pretty lame ending. It’s still a film that plays into the world of vampires that fans of vampire films can enjoy while it is very unapologetic in its emphasis on style over substance. In the end, The Hunger is a stellar yet mesmerizing film from Tony Scott.

Tony Scott Films: (One of the Missing) - (Loving Memory) - (Top Gun) - (Revenge) - (Days of Thunder) - (The Last Boy Scout) - True Romance - (Crimson Tide) - (The Fan) - (Enemy of the State) - (Spy Game) - (Man on Fire) - (Domino) - (Déjà Vu) - (The Taking of Pelham 123 (2009 film)) - (Unstoppable)

© thevoid99 2013


ruth said...

I forgot that Tony Scott did this one. I've been curious to see this for the cast, esp. Catherine Deneuve and David Bowie!

thevoid99 said...

Deneuve and Bowie are the highlights as well as the fact that it's a cult film that totally appeals to the Goth crowd. Especially if you're a fan of Bauhaus like I am. That's how I discovered this film. Fuckin' Bauhaus!