Jacob's Ladder (Adrian Lyne, 1990)

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Fletch F. Fletch
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Jacob's Ladder (Adrian Lyne, 1990)

#1 Post by Fletch F. Fletch » Fri Aug 22, 2008 9:42 am

Caught up with this film again on TV the other night and was struck by how well it has held up over the years. It features one of Tim Robbins' most sympathetic performances (an actor I can take or leave depending on the roll) and easily Adrian Lyne's best film to date. I was struck again by the intensity of some of the chase scenes, like when Robbins' character is almost run over by a subway or when he's walking along a street and is chased by a car. There is a real, visceral vibe to these scenes that were very well done, I thought. I always remember the surgeon with no eyes really creeping me out and some of the other creatures being very effective. I believe these effects were all done practically.

I thought the film's post-script was interesting where it mentions that soldiers in Vietnam were subjected to the drug BZ (a form of LSD?) and I guess that's what caused Robbins' and his buddies to freak out and start shooting at each other in Vietnam. The obvious influence on this film seems to be an Occurrence at Owl Creek but I did some digging and the screenwriter has claimed that it was intended as a modern interpretation of Bardo Thodol, the Tibetan Book of the Dead. Scary to think that this guy wrote the screenplay for Ghost and this film. Oh well, take the good with the bad, I suppose.

Anybody else a fan of this film?

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Oedipax
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#2 Post by Oedipax » Fri Aug 22, 2008 10:19 am

Big fan of the film - one of the only truly scary contemporary horror films, in my opinion (if you can classify it as a horror film). I love the in-camera effects work, which Adrian Lyne discusses at some length on the DVD commentary. His idea was to keep all the demonic traits anchored in some way to flesh and bone, so that they're extensions of the human form rather than completely foreign elements. The scenes in question are also carefully edited so that the viewer is never quite sure if he's seen what he thinks he saw. The mind fills in the gaps and does a much better job than even the greatest effects work could.

Lyne is very familiar with An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge, and mentions it as one of the motivating factors for signing on to direct the film.

I think the movie captures a hazy sort of dream logic that very few other films do.

The scene at the end with Tim Robbins being led up the stairs by Macaulay Culkin brings me to tears every time. There's something about representing the notion of an afterlife in terms of one's own home and family that is quite moving, and ties in overall with the film's technique of representing the supernatural through naturalistic means.

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s.j. bagley
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#3 Post by s.j. bagley » Fri Aug 22, 2008 11:45 am

i love it and consider it one of my favourite horror films.

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Fletch F. Fletch
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#4 Post by Fletch F. Fletch » Fri Aug 22, 2008 3:33 pm

Oedipax wrote:The scene at the end with Tim Robbins being led up the stairs by Macaulay Culkin brings me to tears every time. There's something about representing the notion of an afterlife in terms of one's own home and family that is quite moving, and ties in overall with the film's technique of representing the supernatural through naturalistic means.
I agree. It's a very moving scene that is also comforting for the reasons you mention above. It's like Robbins' character has finally come through the other side and learned to finally let go.

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Re: Jacob's Ladder (Adrian Lyne, 1990)

#5 Post by flyonthewall2983 » Sun Sep 01, 2013 12:32 am

At about 10:20 into this video, the writer credits Owl Bridge as his inspiration.

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