Celebrating its 20th anniversary is writer/director Keith Gordon’s haunting war movie A Midnight Clear.
its 20th anniversary is
writer/director Keith Gordon’s haunting war movie A Midnight Clear. To mark the occasion a new special edition DVD and Blu-ray has
just been released. The former actor turned director had only made one film
previously and it’s an impressive second movie that deserves to be better
Set at Christmas time in 1944, World
War II is drawing to a close and a small group of US Intelligence officers have
been sent on a reconnaissance mission. The group run into a small band of
German soldiers, whilst they outmatch them as soldiers, the Germans want no
further bloodshed and only wish to leave the battlefield with some honour
The two groups of men put aside their
differences and spend Christmas together. They then agree to fire off some
rounds to give the appearance of battle, but things don’t go to plan and
casualties on both sides are taken.
Unlike other war films, A Midnight
Clear is a much quieter and less action packed film. This is a refreshing
change of pace for a wartime film, but at times it does feel like this
adaptation of William Wharton’s
novel would have been better suited to the stage.
The cast is lead by Ethan Hawke (who also narrates the
film), with Gary Sinise, Peter Berg, John C. McGinley and Kevin
Dillon rounding off the supporting roles. Gary Sinise steals the show as the
troubled ‘Mother’ of the group; a then 22-year-old Ethan Hawke puts in a
credible performance and confirms his rising star status.
For a war movie it’s commendable that
this film’s focus is more character driven than explosions and battle scenes,
and the impact of the limited action scenes are increased ten fold as a result.
The cinematography by Tom Richmond is sublime and the overall
movie feels more like the work of a seasoned director rather than the second
feature film of a rising talent. Sadly Keith
Gordon only directed a couple more feature films, Waking The Dead and 2003’s The
Singing Detective are his most recent motion pictures. However, he went on
to direct episodes of Dexter and the
US version of The Killing.
DVD extras include a fantastic
50-minute documentary, audio commentary with Keith Gordon and Ethan Hawke, and
a small collection of deleted scenes. A Midnight Clear might not be one of the
greatest war movies ever made, but it’s a incredibly well made film that offers
a deeper look at the effect of war on characters you grow to care about.