DVD Rating: ***

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Read Angus Wolfe Murray's film review of Tigerland

Joel Schumacher's commentary is full of charm and interest. He's honest about his intentions and what he is trying to do: "As close to documentary as possible, inspired by Lars von Trier and the Dogme group."

He used "relatively unknown actors", because stars come with baggage and expectation. He is expansive in his praise of them. The girls Bozz and Paxton (Matthew Davis) pick up on their furlough into town were locals from Jacksonville ("Good sports") and the sex scenes were not choreographed. Schumacher stood back and let the actors improvise. The result is steamy.

He talks about discovering Colin Farrell in London, when doing a series of auditions. "Colin was the last person to come in on the last day," he remembers. "A couple of seconds later and we would have missed each other." He found him funny and very smart and asked whether he would agree to a screen test. Farrell was returning to Dublin and said he'd send one.

Schumacher promised him a role in the movie, but, at that point, did not know which. Farrell's screen test was shot at home, with his sister behind the video camera, feeding him lines in her strong Irish accent. A certain amount of Guinness had been consumed by the look of the last take, but, even then the Texan drawl is impressively understated. "He never needed a speech coach," Schumacher says.

The movie was made in an abandoned airbase in Florida. The actors spent 10 days acclimatising to the conditions - scorpions, ticks, leeches - and preparing for the life of a raw recruit before filming began. Schumacher admits how lucky he was in obtaining the services of Darren Aronofsky's cinematographer, Matthew Libatique. He used natural sunlight and florescent lighting on 16mill. "No tricks," Schumacher says. "Tigerland is about these people and Matthew's camerawork."

At times, the scenes were so intense, only humour got them through. You experience this on screen, not the humour, but the intensity.

"I believe in emotional filmmaking," the director says. "What you don't see and what they don't say is just as important."

Colin Farrell's screen tests are conducted in a bare room. He gives four takes on the same speech by Bozz, already having mastered the Texan accent, with his sister's voice feeding him Paxton's lines. Ironically, this is a scene that was not used in the final film. On the last take, he's weaving a bit.

The Featurette is a pretty good waste of time. Short interviews with Schumacher, Farrell, Collin Jr and Davis.

Reviewed on: 16 Jun 2002
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Tigerland packshot
Training raw recruits at Fort Polk, Louisiana, 1971, to be killing machines for Vietnam.
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Product Code: F1-SGB 21708DVD

Region: 2

Ratio: 1.85:1

Sound: Dolby Digital

Extras: Director

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