When [Wonder Woman] director Patty Jenkins and [Batman Begins] director Christopher Nolan started work on their respective films, both admitted the influence of one film: Richard Donner’s [Superman]. Could we fault them for their choice of muse, for going back to basics, when we are all so lucky that the first serious, big-budget superhero film got so many things right from the start?
The story was a classic one: upon the destruction of his homeworld, the infant Kal-El is rocketed across galaxies to Earth where he acquires superpowers and later fights for truth and justice as Superman. And upon this basic premise a new classic was born.
Who could forget John Williams’ soaring score or the super cast headlined by the Oscar-winning actors Marlon Brando and Gene Hackman? Who did not shiver upon landing in snowy crystalline Krypton or shed a tear at the funeral of Jonathan Kent or look in wonder at the endless wheat fields of Kansas (in truth Alberta)? Who could deny the perfect casting of unknown Christopher Reeve in the double role of Clark Kent/Superman or his chemistry with Margot Kidder? And the excellent script, chiefly the product by Donner and Tom Mankiewicz, has lent itself towards extensive thematical analysis, e.g. the monomyth, the Christ figure, Nietzscheism and free will.
All of these themes come to a fore in the competing wisdoms of Clark/Superman’s natural father, Jor-El, and his adopted Human father, Jonathan Kent. A hologram of the long dead Jor-El ordered his son, the only survivor of Krypton, to be safe and relatively anonymous among Humans. The late-Pa Kent, meanwhile, believed that Clark was on Earth for “for a reason,” a higher purpose in society, in a conversation that has never been equalled or surpassed in film or in print. But when the spectre of death again takes the life of a person that he loved, Clark/Superman was forced to decide between these two competing duties or to forge his own path as neither Kal-El nor Clark Kent but as Superman.
Oh yeah, Superman can turn back time. #ragereset
Didn’t know that before this film, did you?
—Neither did I.
Borrow [Superman: The Movie], in this the special 4-disc special edition that includes: the original theatrical release, 2000 expanded edition, the 1951 film [Superman and the Mole-Men], and all nine Fleischer Studios [Superman] cartoons, today.
Only available at the Cornell branch.
What a delightful blast from the past! I can't speak to the documentaries and other added content as I only watched the "Donner cut" of the original film, but it was great fun. I think small kids would get a kick out of it still, though their older siblings might complain about how fake and dated some effects might appear, which is indeed the case, though I was amazed how well some parts held up. And, no disrespect to Henry Cavill who is a talented actor, Christopher Reeve IS the Man of Steel. Such a legacy.
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