Released by: Eureka Entertainment
Released on: March 23rd, 2016.
Director: Nicolas Roeg
Cast: Gene Hackman, Mickey Rourke, Rutger Hauer, Theresa Russell, Joe Pesci
Directed by Nicolas Roeg in 1983, Eureka is... strange. But so too is it quite rewarding, if you're in the right frame of mind for it. Roeg's films are almost always unconventional and some would say that the director is at his best when trading in elements of the bizarre. With that being the case, Eureka should please fans of his outre style of filmmaking and this new Blu-ray release marks a great way to see it.
The film begins by introducing us to Jack McCann (Gene Hackman) as he's exploring the Yukon Territory searching for gold - and he finds it, so much of it that his discovery is more akin to spiritual ecstasy than it is surprise or simple joy. Around the same time, in a completely different location, a woman with ties to McCann named Freida (Helena Kalianiotes), passes out and dies.
From here the movie jumps ahead quite a few years. McCann has now acquired a vast fortune and live a life of absolute luxury. He's built a massive estate on a beautiful tropical island where he lives with his wife, Helen (Jane Lapotaire), and their daughter, Tracy (Theresa Russell), but it's clear that he longs for something more. Having completed his quest for gold years ago, his life, as comfortable as it is, seems devoid of purpose. Complicating matters for McCann is the presence of Claude (Rutger Hauer), his daughter's fiance.The father-in-law to be is fairly certain that Claude isn't nearly as interested in taking his daughter's hand in marriage as he is in getting his hands on the family's money. While McCann is dealing with this, a criminal named Mayakofsky (Joe Pesci) and his lawyer, D'Amato (Mickey Rourke), try to force McCann into selling the estate so that they can turn the place into a casino. All of this leads up to a trial wherein McCann's past, present and future are all called into question.
Eureka starts off with a bang, the opening scene where McCann almost drowns in gold contrasts with the first death in the film in interesting ways, and it sets up more strange events to come. The film uses McCann's greed as a catalyst from which to spin a few memorably odd set pieces, each one sticking out and making the audience take notice. Some of these (such as the surprisingly bloody murder) further the plot better than others (a good example of that being an artistically impressive outdoor group sex scene that might leave some wondering why it's happening). What's happening and why, at least in the narrative context, is left somewhat open to interpretation - is McCann's lust for gold causing all of this or is he paying for the sins of his past? By putting wealth over his family, has it caused him to pass on the sins of the father to his daughter? Is her "relationship" to the incredibly manipulative Claude his doing, or his punishment? By the standards of big studio productions, this one is pretty out there.
Stylish to an insane degree, the movie is, however, more than just a series of odd set pieces. The narrative leaves some of it up to us to interpret but it offers enough to tie everything together that, even if interpretations will vary they'll happen regardless. It's one of those movies that merits discussion. Not just because of the way in which it's put together, but also for the ways that the characters interact. The performances are strong here. Hackman is great in pretty much everything he does and this film is no exception. His character is an alpha-male, he's dominant and strong and has no qualms about doing what he feels he needs to do in order to make people see things his way. It's a good role for him and he takes advantage of it. Likewise, Hauer is well cast here. He's always played shifty characters well and Eureka affords him the chance to really run with that aspect of his part. Theresa Russell is gorgeous but not only that, she delivers, towards the end of the film, a performance in one scene that is so beautifully over the top that you won't soon forget it. Clearly Roeg was enamored with her enough after working on her with Bad Timing a few years earlier to cast her again and he certainly gives her one of the film's most bizarre scenes to make her own. Throw in great supporting work from Rourke, Pesci, Lapotaire and Kalianiotes and it's easy to see how and why this surrealist drama holds up as well as it does.
Eureka on arrives Blu-ray in its original 1.85.1 widescreen aspect ratio in AVC encoded 1080p high definition. This is a very colorful film and that comes through in a big way here. Black levels look nice and deep but not at the expense of shadow detail. Compression artifacts are never a problem and the picture is free of any obvious noise reduction. Edge enhancement is also never an issue. There's some visible grain here, as there should be, but no serious print damage. The end result is a very nicely detailed and textured picture that has as very pleasing film like quality to it. Some shots do look softer than others, but there's a pretty substantial improvement noticeable here compared to the old DVD release.
The disc's singular audio option for the feature is an English language LPCM Mono mix, there aren't any alternate language options offered but English subtitles are provided. Clarity of the audio is fine. The levels are nicely balanced and there are problems with any hiss or distortion. The score sounds quite good too and the sound effects have decent range throughout the film.
The extras on this disc are the same as those found on the Twilight Time Blu-ray release, starting with Q&A session with director Nicolas Roeg that was recorded at the World Premiere of the film from 1983 that plays out basically as a commentary track. Conducted by Philip Strick, this isn't always Eureka-specific but it is nevertheless an interesting look back at the director's work and in his own words at that. He talks about the influence of Francois Truffaut on his pictures, as well as the way that certain American films shaped his directorial style. He's then asked about some of the other films that he's worked on over the years - Don't Look Now being a great example - and as this happens he offers some insight into their production histories. He gets more into Eureka as the talk progresses, detailing some of the locations, the cast members and some information on the story itself.
The rest of the more substantial supplements are made up of some interviews, starting with a fifty-three minute piece in which the film's writer, Paul Mayersberg (who also wrote The Man Who Fell To Earth, which Roeg directed in 1976), looks back on his work on Eureka. This is quite interesting as Mayersberg gives us his take on what went into getting Marshall Hout's source novel fitted for the big screen, his thoughts on the real life events that inspired some of what we see in the movie, his thoughts on the finished product, some of the themes that the storyline deals with and his experiences working with the production crew. The second interview gets Producer Jeremy Thomas in front of the camera for just under fourteen minutes. He talks about working with Roeg and what their relationship was like, some of the different locations used in the film and his thoughts on the finished product as a whole. The third and final interview is a thirteen minute piece in which Editor Tony Lawson talks about how and why he cut certain scenes the way that we see them in the movie, working with Roeg and how he came to work on this movie in the first place. Between the three interviews and the Q&E track the supplements here cover a lot of ground - interesting stuff!
Outside of that the disc also includes the film’s original theatrical trailer, an isolated music and effects track (in LPCM Mono format), menus and chapter selection.
The Final Word:
Eureka Entertainment's Masters Of Cinema branded Blu-ray release of Roeg's Eureka is a good one, presenting this enjoyably eclectic picture in very nice shape and with a lot of supplements. The movie itself is a hyper-stylish and completely bizarre examination of greed and betrayal as only Roeg could deliver. It may be strange, surreal even, but anyone with an interest in the director's work owes it to themselves to add this to their collection.
Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!