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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Long buried film now available on DVD
A disturbing film that was at odds with the feeling of the american public at the time of release being consigned straight to video and then being totally withdrawn from distribution within a week with all copies recalled. It became something of a myth before resurfacing on BBC2 for one showing in the late 1980s showing in a slightly different version to the eventual...
Published on 25 Jun 2004 by mark osborne

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Film, but NO Extras
Having seen this film at its world premiere (before Roeg withdrew it to fiddle with the editing) I had been impressed. Yet I hadn't seen it again for 30 years. Finding it was now on DVD, I thought I would give it a punt.
This is a very quirky film, immersed (as is "Performance" and "The Man Who Fell to Earth") in other things; in this case it is the...
Published 16 months ago by H. C. Merritt


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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Long buried film now available on DVD, 25 Jun 2004
This review is from: Eureka [DVD] [1986] (DVD)
A disturbing film that was at odds with the feeling of the american public at the time of release being consigned straight to video and then being totally withdrawn from distribution within a week with all copies recalled. It became something of a myth before resurfacing on BBC2 for one showing in the late 1980s showing in a slightly different version to the eventual video release in the 1990s.
Features strong performances from the central cast and an early appearance of Mickey Rourke. The film has some shocking violence and a strong message about the value of money and its place in society.
Visually stunning Roeg's direction is strong and the film is an important piece of work, being included in the Guardian Talk at the NFT in the 90s.
Overall a strong film that rewards watching more than once, although you may want to wait a while between viewings.
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not quite vintage Roeg, 16 April 2004
By 
Gavin Wilson - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Eureka [DVD] [1986] (DVD)
Until this year, 'Eureka' has only been available as a Region 1 purchase from the US. Now we have the same MGM version made available for Europe. There are no extras, except for the trailer, which is a shame. To my knowledge, this 1983 film has only been screened once on terrestrial TV in the UK -- probably in the late 1980s on BBC2. At the time, viewers were given a great intro to the film -- i.e. how it was loosely based on true story, and how it had existed in several versions etc etc. Because of that, I've always felt this was a British film -- with people like Roeg, Jeremy Thomas, Lapotaire and many British actors in minor roles. But most of the major roles are taken by US actors -- e.g. Gene Hackman, Mickey Rourke, Joe Pesci etc.
This is the same version as shown on TV -- i.e. with all the gore, nudity and voodoo -- if you prefer to stay away from that sort of thing. Although Theresa Russell has done many good things, I'm not convinced by her acting in this one. But at the time, she was one of the most beautiful women in the world, and it is surprising that Roeg is prepared to share so many views of his wife with the cinema-goer.
As a plot and an atmospheric experience, I don't think this works as well as say, DON'T LOOK NOW. In the end, I don't feel this movie has any grand message for the world, except perhaps the pointlessness of having so much wealth if you don't do anything with it. (Maybe Bill Gates has already seen this.)
But I'm glad it's now available, and we come close to having nearly all Roeg's significant work out on DVD.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Universal Quest for Ecstasy, 24 April 2014
This review is from: Eureka [DVD] (DVD)
Nicolas Roeg's Eureka (1983) is one of cinema's great unsung masterpieces. Its initial botched release was a classic case of Hollywood not understanding one of its own products combined with unfortunate bad timing. You would have thought United Artists would have learned a lesson from previous Roeg head-scratchers like Performance (1970), The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976) and Bad Timing (1980), but no. The studio was horrified by the complexity of what Roeg finally gave them. Furthermore, the film seemed to be an anti-capitalist (anti-American even) rant on the evils of amassing wealth at a time when Reagan and Thatcher were preaching `greed is good'. UA were in post-Heaven's Gate meltdown anyway and shelved the film, leaving it unreleased in the States except for a single print which was shown in a couple of cinemas. It finally limped out unheralded on VHS where it promptly vanished into obscurity. The film was released in the UK where it sank again. It was given a single airing on British TV in 1989 which is where I first encountered it. The viewing blew me away. Years later we finally have the film resplendent on DVD courtesy of Studio Canal. The print is exactly the same as the one shown on TV. The visuals (aspect ratio 1.85:1) are intensely beautiful with deeply saturated colors while the sound (Mono 2.0) is as clear as one could wish for. People can have no qualms about buying this disc. The only complaint I have concerns the complete lack of extras. Surely someone at the BFI or even Roeg himself could have been induced to contribute something - a documentary or even a commentary. The film's basic concern with metaphysics (the meaning of existence no less) is comprised of a fairly dense thicket of high-brow references to an astonishing array of belief systems, intellectual constructs, myths, ambiguous symbols and existing works of art. These range from poems to novels, from children's fairy tales to opera and from films to stage dramas. In short everything under the sun seems to appear in this film and some kind of help would have been useful. Never mind, I wish you luck deciphering for yourselves the huge ideas that bound through Paul Mayersberg's screenplay and Roeg's dense criss-crossing visual system which transcends time and place with razor-sharp intuitive editing. The total effect is dazzling, over-powering, bewildering, but also deeply insightful for those prepared to work hard to engage with the text.

Complex Eureka may be, but the story is simplicity itself. Paul Mayersberg based his screenplay on Marshall Houts' book, Who Killed Sir Harry Oakes? It features the true story of a gold prospector who struck it rich only to find his life ruined as a consequence. He was murdered in the Bahamas in 1943. The film re-imagines Oakes as Jack McCann (Gene Hackman seizing the role of a lifetime), a prospector hunting in the Yukon in the 1920s. At first years of obsessive search yield nothing. The only thing he has is a relationship with Frieda (Helena Kallianiotes), an enigmatic brothel owner who possesses the psychic gift. One night McCann lies in the snowy waste beneath a tree having reached the end of the line. At the mercy of the circling wolves, a bolt of lightning ignites a fire in the earth before him. From the ether a mysterious opaque rock is delivered into his hands. He takes it back to Frieda who tells him his luck has changed, but that "everybody pays!" The next day, rejuvenated, he finds his gold in an ecstatic sequence which seemingly causes Frieda to die. The longer second part of the film finds McCann playing the recluse in his Caribbean island paradise named `Luna Bay'. He is unsettled by deep personal malaise and remains surrounded by wolves. This time they are humans hunting their own gold and jealous of the fact McCann has already found what they are all looking for. There is Helen (Jane Lapotaire), his drunken wife who lives off her husband wondering where the passion has gone from their marriage. There is Tracy (Theresa Russell), their daughter who is negotiating independence by staking claim on her own gold - pristine Aryan-looking French exile Claude Maillot van Horn (a perfectly cast truly golden Rutger Hauer). In interview Roeg has termed Claude "a dabbler" who has no firm belief in anything, a naïf who wouldn't recognize his gold if it fell into his lap. Then there is Charlie Perkins (Ed Lauter), McCann's dubious business manager who is trying unsuccessfully to negotiate his own share of the gold. Finally there is the Jewish gangster Mayakofsky in Miami (Joe Pesci playing the film's comic relief) and his lawyer Aurelio D'Amato (Mickey Rourke). They want to turn Luna Bay into a casino to generate their own gold. The wolves circle McCann warily until one stormy night in a kind of suicide he submits to a long and brutal murder in the house at their hands (Tracy and her mother are far away in Rhode Island). The police only arrest Claude who is then put on trial. Eventually after he and Tracy fiercely cross-examine each other, he is acquitted (as the Frenchman who stood trial for the Oakes murder was in real life). The film ends with the couple `free' but with Claude rowing off to his yacht to resume the search for his gold whatever or wherever that may be. The final two shots are a flashback to Frieda in the Yukon looking through a veiled window followed by the image of a prospector (it may or may not be McCann) hunting in the snow while a verse from a poem by Robert W. Service called "Spell of the Yukon" is read by McCann as the credits roll. The words emphasize getting the gold isn't important as much as the process of finding it.

In what follows I want to point out what I take to be key references which viewers can follow through for themselves to unlock the mystery of the film, and through it, perhaps approach the mystery of creation itself. We should first pay attention to the film's title. `Eureka!' was the cry the ancient Greek polymath Archimedes let fly when discovering specific gravity (the theory of displacement). Literally translated `Eureka' means `I have found it!' or `Aha!' This guides us to the central meaning of Roeg's narrative. The film is about the search for ecstasy. Roeg said in interview: "I wanted to make a film about ecstasy, the many forms of ecstasy. Ecstasy in individual people, and ecstasy as the mystic sense of life. How our actions are connected to everything and everyone around us". This is closely bound with the other reference made by the title: Edgar Allan Poe's 1848 prose poem entitled `Eureka' and subtitled `An Essay on the Material and Spiritual Universe'. It is a work atypical of the writer and not exactly accepted as important, but Roeg has said he thinks it the best thing Poe ever did and that his film refers specifically to it. The poem posits the idea of the universe as expanding and contracting infinitely - `Because Nothing was, therefore All Things are'. Space and duration are as one and matter and spirit are of the same essence. He talks about a divine heartbeat which always rejuvenates itself thus implying immortality. The soul is part of a collective constant throbbing which continues after death with everyone becoming God as one. This world view connects with the transcendentalists (Thoreau, Emerson, Hawthorne, etc) from which Poe had previously distanced himself. It also links back to antiquity and especially to shamanism.

Shamanism goes back probably 40,000 years. Not only does it pre-exist all of today's organized religions, but it fed into them to a great degree. Shamanism is centered on a synthesis between the spiritual and the material worlds. We are a part of nature and nature is a part of us. A violation of nature is a violation of humanity and vice versa. Shamanism also transcends time and place, everything being part of a huge cosmic scheme. The shaman is the person who has the ability to intuit past, present and future. He/She synthesizes everything as being one and the same. This obviously connects with Poe and with Roeg's view of `how our actions are connected to everything and everyone around us'. As we shall see, this will have an important bearing on the film. Not only does Roeg feature possible shamans in the narrative, but he acts himself as the over-arching shaman by adopting a dense visual style which cuts backwards and forwards in time and place so that we experience everything as one profound visionary synthesis. As Basilides has said in his review much of the film's profundity comes from what he terms a `metaphysical shamanist' aesthetic common to all Roeg's best work. This is an aesthetic based on an extraordinary series of binary oppositions which lie in the script and in the mise-en-scène. The elements reign supreme here - fire and water, wind and earth. These spark other oppositions - hot and cold, spiritual and material, having and not having, life and death, passion and impotence, belief and non-belief, men and women, the rational and the intuitive, and many more.

Roeg's dense mosaic of images and ideas encourages a purely intuitive response, inviting us to enjoy the ride. However, the ideas that are proffered are so bold and obviously `intellectual' that one can't help responding with the mind as well as with the senses. Take the first two images Roeg gives us before the credits. The first is an image of what looks like gold secreted in a dark blue rock. Look closely however and we see that it is an aerial helicopter shot of tropical islands baked in the bright sunlight to look like gold. The blue `rock' is the sea. The second shot is of the Earth as seen from space with a slow zoom in on the northern part of the globe (presumably the Yukon). The important thing here is that the gold is introduced ambiguously. It is a metaphor, a symbol, for everything that drives people to seek their `Eureka!' moment (their `gold'), to achieve absolute ecstasy. In other words (as the second shot of the Earth implies) it is a metaphor for the search for the very meaning of life, the point of inspiration that makes the world go around, that inspires evolution. This relates the film closely to Herman Melville's Moby Dick, Richard Wagner's opera tetralogy, The Ring of the Nibelung, Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and P. T. Anderson's There Will Be Blood (2007). The gold, the whale, the ring, the black monolith and the oil are all symbols for the essential catalyst that drives existence. All these art works are deep metaphysical quests for the meaning of life, but each one reveals that though it is the desire to have, the desire to understand which drives life, a final total understanding is impossible and even blasphemous to behold. The joy (the meaning of life) is to be found in the journey that we take towards the end rather than in the acquisition of the end itself. Indeed, if the end is acquired then life would be killed, because life would cease to have meaning. The meaning therefore lies in the journey. In Eureka this is spelled out clearly in the closing R. W. Service poem. Eureka is a film about the death of the spirit of a man because he achieves his `ecstasy' too early. As Tracy says in the trial, McCann's murder is just his physical end. His spirit died the moment he found the gold - `one moment of rapture followed by decades of despair'. The same thing happens to Ahab (in Moby Dick), Daniel Plainview (in There Will Be Blood), to each stage of the evolution process (2001: ape - man - machine - superman - man as pure thought) accompanied by murder throughout, and to all characters who come into contact with the ring (especially Alberich, Wotan and Fafner). All are obsessive blasphemous pursuits for that thing Man craves as giving their lives `ecstasy', but which in the end kills them. Life is nothing without searching for what we want, but to possess what we want defeats life itself. That is the paradox at the center of existence which Roeg at base addresses in his film.

Having set out the film's basic metaphysical frame of reference, one way to approach the rest of the film is to examine the numerous ways humans have sought to understand the nature of existence. These cluster around each of the main characters. The film is mainly the story of Jack McCann. Most obviously Roeg presents him as an all-American self-made millionaire who perfectly embodies the main idea behind the foundation of America - the `Manifest Destiny' of every man to search out his `American Dream'. The Klondike gold rush of the 1920s is perhaps the archetypical event which expresses the meaning of the new country. America is the country where any man can come, work hard, stake his claim and prosper, free as it is from `old world' European class systems. Roeg references two famous films to underline his point, the first is The Gold Rush (1924, Charlie Chaplin). The fight in the snow storm between Big Jim and Black Larsen is quoted at the beginning with McCann's fight with his `partner' and then later when McCann drives past a movie theater where the Chaplin film is playing, on the way to meeting his killers. Both scenes end up with McCann declaiming good old American working man mantras. At the end of the fight he shouts repeatedly, "I never earned a nickel from another man's sweat" and at the dock when he faces down his ultimate killers he declares "Where I come from you stake your claim, that's all a man can do".

Then there is Roeg's use of Citizen Kane (1941, Orson Welles). Kane is shown by Welles (most strikingly in the March of Time episode setting out his life and death) as first and foremost, `an American' and his story is about how wealth defines the man (America is a country where class is determined by wealth more than anything else) and how having too much too early corrupts and destroys. Just as McCann dies spiritually when he finds the gold, so Kane dies spiritually when he receives his gold through inheritance. McCann was allowed time to search and achieve for himself, to at least get a sense of individual freedom and the happiness this brings. Not so Kane who is crippled before he grows up. Roeg underlines parallels between the two men all the way through. Kane's happiest memory is of playing with his sled (named `Rosebud') in the snow. McCann's happiest memory is his snow-bound search for the gold. Both men look back at their past experiences with a sense of nostalgia. Kane treasures a little talismanic ornament with a winter scene depicted inside. McCann has his rock extracted from the ether which breaks (just like Kane's does) to reveal a man (him as prospector) lying within. Kane builds Xanadu where he becomes `America's Kubla Khan' while Jack builds Eureka. Both have gates which are shot from below with expressionistic technique to seem forbidding. Both Kane and McCann endure `living deaths', their spirits crushed by wealth and the knowledge that there is nothing more out there that they want. As McCann says, "once I had everything, now I just have it all". The crushing emptiness coming with the kind of sated materialism which both Reagan and Thatcher would later eulogize is also given within the framework of investigations. Citizen Kane is structured around a reporter's news investigation while Eureka centers on a trial sequence which explores many of the film's themes.

Beyond epitomizing the American Dream, McCann assumes an altogether deeper mythic status especially by the way Roeg sets up the first half of the film. The finding of the gold (the `Eureka!' moment) is given deep resonance by the use of both themes and music from Wagner's Ring cycle. McCann is cast as the Nibelung dwarf Alberich of Norse legend. He renounces love (`Gold smells stronger than a woman' he says), rapes the Earth and steals the gold. The character of Frieda is Erda, the Earth goddess/shaman from The Ring who foretells there will be a second end in the future, and as McCann/Alberich strikes the Earth with his pick axe, Frieda coughs with each strike as if he is striking her. When he finds his gold Frieda (the Earth) dies. `Freida' is also the German word for `peace'. With her death, McCann loses his peace. His discovery of the gold is a violation of nature (shown by inter-cut shots of stunted trees as the prelude from Wagner's Das Rheingold wells up on the soundtrack), a blasphemous act for which he will later pay. This also refers back through Wagner to ancient fertility myths concerning the Fisher King and the removal of the Earth's riches leading to a desecration of the Earth itself. McCann also connotes Wotan, the chief god (and alter-ego of Alberich) in The Ring who has cut a branch from the World Ash and has carved the rules from which he will rule the world. Like Wotan in Valhalla and Fafner in his cave, McCann retreats from the world ("Jack McCann's out of it" he parrots to his parrot) and refuses to do anything to avoid his predestined physical demise. Like Wotan's, McCann's death is achieved through fire and water (scorched by a flame thrower on his bed and earlier drowned in a river of gold) and both are quasi-suicides. This again refers back to ancient fertility myths and rejuvenation of the Earth by ritual of fire and water. Then there is Prometheus' theft of fire from the gods in Greek myth (a clear pre-cursor of the theft of the gold in Norse folklore). Prometheus is punished by the creation of the first woman named Pandora who unleashes her box of evils on to the world. In the film Claude's yacht is named Pandora and Tracy (also Claude's possession) is the Pandora figure created in a sense to punish her father - she exists in the film as a visual personification of McCann's soul which is exposed for the wolves (Claude among them) to violate as they choose.

One last definition of McCann I'd like to mention (there are surely many more!) was outlined by Roeg himself in interview. He says: "According to Muslims there are seven heavens...'the Sixth Heaven is composed of ruby and garnet and is presided over by Moses. Here dwells the guardian angel of Heaven and Earth, half snow and half fire'. And Jack is the snow and flame! `The Seventh Heaven is formed of divine light beyond the power of tongue to describe and is ruled by Abram...To be in the Seventh Heaven is to be supremely happy, to be in a paradise, to be in ecstasy'...It's rather shattering isn't it? That really is the story of Jack McCann! Snow and fire. And the quest for the Seventh Heaven. Ecstasy." For Roeg then, Jack McCann embodies the journey every man living in Abramic societies takes. Abramic religions of course include Judaism, Christianity and Islam, making up over 50% of the world's population. McCann receives the talismanic rock in biblical fashion (the burning bush = the appearance of God/Satan). He pays the price for his successful quest, leaving himself open to be murdered, but knowing part of him (his soul) lives on in his daughter.

The images and ideas that Roeg/Mayersberg throw out concerning Tracy are all connected with the idea that she is an extension of her father's soul. She is the only other character who has found her `gold' in Claude and is therefore absent of any material desire the same way her father is. Most obvious is the way Tracy mimics her father almost without thinking. She tells her mother to "lay off the sauce" the same way her father does when she boozes too much. Roeg makes the father/daughter relationship almost incestuous in the way he can't stand the way Claude handles his daughter in front of him. The soul connection is suggested most strongly by gold chains. There's a bedroom scene between Tracy and Claude which is shot as a long slow zoom in onto a chain on a dressing table which slides off at the last moment. There's McCann's necklace which Claude prevents Tracy from wearing to the dinner party. Then there is the chain which Jack grips when he attacks Claude after Tracy has written her letter. He announces very emphatically, "You're after my soul!" One of the film's most successful scenes is the Mad Hatter's Tea Party dinner which all the main characters (except Mayakofsky) attend. In it Jack and Tracy play at mathematics. Both are gifted at mental arithmetic and challenge the guests to catch them out. On one level this shows the soul-connection between father/daughter. On another level it refers to an attempt at a mathematical understanding of existence. Charles Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll) was a mathematics lecturer at Oxford University and wrote Alice's Adventures in Wonderland some say as a scathing satire on new modern mathematics in the mid 19th Century. Especially interesting is Roeg's use of binary oppositions which ties in with Dodgson's investigations into the inverse relation of binary reactions when the order of elements is switched. This is encapsulated in the statement: `I see what I eat...I eat what I see'. Much of the book is devoted to the idea of eating and devouring being central to life - the worm being eaten becomes in turn the eater. This is central to Eureka's tale of characters devouring each other. The book's reputation for its anthropomorphism (giving animals or things human form) also relates strongly to the film. The characters of the film are a lot more than just characters - they are ideas and emotions personified. In the case of Tracy, she is Jack's soul. When Jack's head is hacked off, Tracy starts as if someone has choked her even though she is hundreds of miles away, lying on her bed in Rhode Island reading Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, or `Tracy in Lumberland' as her cynical mother says at the party.

Turning to Claude, it's clear that he represents Tracy's gold. Her parents think he sees her as his gold in return ("We saw him as a fortune hunter who had struck it rich with our daughter", says Helen), but she isn't. Actually he doesn't know what or where his `gold' is. In the trial Tracy describes him as a born innocent. He doesn't believe deeply in anything and consequently merely `dabbles' in various ideas with no seriousness. For this reason Roeg assigns him occult methods for understanding existence (of chasing after his gold). First there is his dinner shirt adorned with cabalistic signs. Though associated with Judaism today, the teachings of the cabala amount to a universal search for wisdom. Claude demonstrates this with the help of D'Amato, the Jewish lawyer representing Mayakofsky. The 5 points of wisdom are noted as silence, listening, remembrance, practicing and teaching to which McCann interjects an expletive and then states his own credo for living - "There's only one Golden Rule. Do unto others as you would have done unto you. The rest is conversation". This appears to be arrogant, anti-Semitic even, and yet McCann quotes exactly the words at the center of the Talmud. He (perhaps sub-consciously) answers cabala with cabala demonstrating its universal application even though it has been kept secret for centuries and consequently has occult associations. Note also the phrase `Golden Rule' stating obviously another way gold (life's meaning) can be found. The second occult association providing more possible `Golden Rules' is voodoo, or more correctly the `vodou' introduced to Haiti by French colonialists in the 18th Century. Claude is French and the connection is obvious. He goes to a vodou ritual the night of McCann's murder and Roeg parallels the two events, the ritual perhaps conjuring up the tropical storm and preparing the way for McCann's murder which is staged as a kind of ritual human sacrifice. McCann's decapitation parallels the decapitation of a chicken earlier and a pillow is broken open causing feathers to cover the scene. The feathers connote the chicken ("What do you do, pluck chickens for a living?" Perkins knowingly asks Claude at the party) as well as the snow of the Yukon which connects McCann's physical death with the earlier death of his spirit. The murder scene is deeply ambiguous drawing as it does on a number of thematic threads at the same time.

This leaves the last characters (Mayakofsky, Perkins and D'Amato) who Roeg groups together as gold-hunting businessmen. It's tempting to see Perkins representing legitimate business and Mayakofsky/D'Amato representing the dark side of the American Dream, but actually compared to the honest `American Way' McCann dug up his gold, they are all gangsters - wolves sniffing for meat. Perkins is just as culpable as the others for McCann's murder. I think we must see the name `Mayakofsky' as a joke reference to the Russian futurist poet Vladimir Mayerkovsky, the name more correctly being a pun on the name of Meyer Lansky. Lansky was the mobster accountant for the National Crime Syndicate who actually built casinos in Cuba and in the Bahamas. He was also a mathematical genius just like McCann and Tracy. His lawyer D'Amato is Jewish-Italian and the script references a certain `Lucky' as being bad news. This could refer to Lansky's Italian mob connections and `Lucky' Luciano. Roeg gives Mayakofsky the Harry Flowers treatment (from Performance). He gets the funniest lines which emphasize the link between gangsterism and big business - both as sure a way as any of finding gold. Joe Pesci had already played in Raging Bull (1980), but his future roles for Martin Scorsese (especially in Goodfellas and in Casino) make the gangster he plays here for Roeg in hindsight all the more richly comic - witness his summation of the war as a conflict being fought between Americans ("Everyone's an American, so how can we lose?") and then his upbeat typically American encouragement of a clearly scared Perkins - "You think this is a problem? This is no problem - think of it as an opportunity", he waves smilingly, a short pot-bellied man in ridiculous Bermuda shorts chomping on a Havana cigar. A gangster/businessman is never more dangerous than when he's smiling and looking ridiculous - especially when he's played by Joe Pesci!

Hunting for references and allusions to different ways of understanding the world (of finding one's gold, one's `Eureka! moment') can become addictive in this film, and my review (lengthy as it has turned out to be) only really scratches the surface. Roeg's enigmatic metaphysical puzzle is deeply engaging, superbly entertaining and acted with extraordinary conviction. Alex Thomson's luminous cinematography superbly distinguishes the cold blue of the Yukon from the lush tropical scenery of the Caribbean while the millimeter-perfect razor-sharp editing of Tony Lawson is deeply impressive. Eureka is one of the most ambitious films ever to come out of anywhere and is barely recognizable as a Hollywood product. It's worth a fiver of anyone's money and comes strongly recommended despite what the film's detractors say.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Film, but NO Extras, 24 May 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Eureka [DVD] (DVD)
Having seen this film at its world premiere (before Roeg withdrew it to fiddle with the editing) I had been impressed. Yet I hadn't seen it again for 30 years. Finding it was now on DVD, I thought I would give it a punt.
This is a very quirky film, immersed (as is "Performance" and "The Man Who Fell to Earth") in other things; in this case it is the Kabbalah. (This is made clear when Rutger Hauer wears a shirt with the Tree of the Kabbalah drawn on the front to a formal dinner in the middle of the film.) I found this release of the film both impressive and a let-down. It is impressive because of its ambition as a film; it is a let-down because (the way it is edited) most sense of "suspense" is replaced by puzzlement; this is The Zohar meeting Hollywood and suffering from the meeting.
However, this review is about the DVD on offer.
As a DVD it offers no extras except for the original theatrical trailer. The sound is firmly mono and there aren't even any subtitles to be had.
I would suggest that this (superficially Roeg's least approachable film, but one with a great deal to offer to anyone who has followed his career) is poorly served by this release. It is only the film, virtually nothing more. It is closer to "Performance" than it is to "Don't Look Now", but it has some extremely good moments. It is really for Roeg fans, rather than for the general public. Roeg is a great director and this film has some moments of greatness. This DVD, with its lack of features, is not a good showcase for them. Still, when it is the only DVD available, it is worth having.
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars THIS DVD IS NOT WIDESCREEN, 27 Jan 2007
This review is from: Eureka [DVD] [1986] (DVD)
Despite what it says on Amazon and even on the box of the DVD, the film is presented in 4:3 centre cutout, NOT 16:9 widescreen.
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the most serious and profound films I've ever seen, 6 Nov 2008
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This review is from: Eureka [DVD] (DVD)
There are of course films which are obviously serious because they are about war, social injustice, or man's inhumanity to man, but this film is serious and profound in a more universal sense in that it deals with the conditions of life as such, on a very basic level, encompassing the extremes that can be experienced, and in this real life case were experienced, by one man. In other words it deals with the nature of existence itself. The image system of this film operates through the opposition of heat and cold and this derives naturally from the background story which is the true story of Harry Oakes the millionare starting out in the snow and ice of Alaska and ending in the tropical heat of the West Indies. Those who know Roeg's work will not be surprised to know that the story perfectly fits Roeg's underlying fascination with shamanistic metaphysics, which can also be seen in other films of his, especially 'Performance'. One of Roeg's most characteristic stylistic elements is the way he treats time and often space in what was once an innovative style of editing and this can be seen as an obvious metaphysical tendency in his films ( you may also remember the film called 'Insignificance' about Einstein and time/space or Relativity, where of course Einstein is the shaman). Roeg's continual flashbacks and fast edits going in both directions of time are his way of suggesting a dimension of transcendance in time/space.
So the film works through a series of extreme oppositions in time and place, heat and cold, black and white and colour, nothingness and plenitude, poverty and wealth, solitude and society, natural law and the judicial system, loyalty and treachery, past and present.
This film deals with themes much deeper than most films, or books for that matter, and can be compared to the all time film classics such as the Russian 'War And Peace' (which of course hinges on Andrei's vision of time/space), 'Les Enfants Du Paradis' (where the time/space continuum is represented by the unstoppable crowd, especially at the end) and 'The Music Lovers' (heat and cold, and a powerful reference to Shamanism); and, in the novel, 'Berlin Alexanderplatz'(Doblin), 'The Sleepwalkers'(Broch) and perhaps 'The Brothers Karamazov', and 'Tale Of Two Cities. Although I'm not claiming it's as good or important as they are it sets out admirably to be just as serious and profound in the area it stakes out in terms of it's own medium of film.
I don't want to spoil the story for you but it should leave you shaken and metaphysically disturbed. And remember it's a true story. Buried in all the rest of it is a true murder case.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Eureka effect- refers to the common human experience of suddenly understanding a previously incomprehensible problem or concept., 16 May 2012
This review is from: Eureka [DVD] [1986] (DVD)
(THE FILM)Arctic prospector Jack McCann (Hackman), after fifteen years of solitary searching, becomes one of the world's wealthiest men when he literally falls into a mountain of gold in 1925. Twenty years later, he lives in luxury on a Caribbean island that he owns. But his wealth brings him no peace of mind as he copes with Helen, his bored, alcoholic wife; Tracy, his dear, but headstrong, daughter who has married a dissolute, philandering social-climber; and Miami mobsters who want his island to build a casino...
WHAT CAN I SAY?
Acclaimed film-maker Nicolas Roeg (The Man Who Fell to Earth)
directs an all-star cast in this mystical and visually stunning mystery
about love and obsession that delivers
"visions of horror,
visions of ecstasy"
and a stunning performance from two -time Oscar winner Gene Hackman.
Who is ably supported by Theresa Russell as his daughter,
Rutger Hauer as his difficult son in law
along with Joe Pesci and Mickey Rourke as a pair of Miami based mobsters
Hackman stars as Jack McCann, a gold prospector who strikes it rich beyond his wildest dreams.
But having achieved his goal,
Jack now finds his passion for life drained;
he says ((Once I had it all. Now I just have everything.))
there is no longer anything to drive him.
Arrogant and abusive,
he becomes obsessed with the motives of those around him,
suspicious that even his own family,
in their jealousy over his wealth,
could make him pay the ultimate price.?
It's difficult to articulate the power this movie has.
It's about the human condition and it deals with issues that are almost never talked about-
the price we pay for getting what we want,
the moments in life where we find our purpose,
the essence of people that is passed down through the generations,
the difference between old and new souls
Eureka is a true story
It is extraordinary
it bis about power
it will sweep you away-
it is crazy,
it is mystical
it is violent,
it is lovely,
it is sexy ,
it is magical cinema experience
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1.0 out of 5 stars One Star, 26 Aug 2014
By 
P. F. Musgrove (Herts, UK.) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Eureka [DVD] (DVD)
I'm a big fan of Nicolas Roeg films, but this was rubbish.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars terribly fun and then just terrible, 7 Nov 2011
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This review is from: Eureka [DVD] (DVD)
After a great start ;gore, nudity, voodoo, kabbalah, over the top acting and lots of star spotting [remember Jane Lapotaire ???] this film then becomes rubbish . Theresa Russell becomes wooden , Rutger Hauers accent too ridiculous and the court scene is painful .This is still fun, in a Caligula guilty pleasure kind of way .
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Eureka, 18 Dec 2010
By 
Mr. P. Dawson "pepemax" (Lancashire, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Eureka [DVD] (DVD)
A violent story of infidelity and revenge. Hackman
at his best. This film is not for the squeamish!
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