Posted in: Disc Reviews by David Annandale on September 8th, 2003
In an unnamed Latin American country, an elderly doctor decides to leave the city to visitseven former students. He had trained them for work in the countryside, with the idea of bringingmodern medicine to the underdeveloped regions. His journey becomes one of disillusionment, aseach student he seeks turns out to have been killed by “men with guns” (the army). As he movesfurther and further into the countryside, he witnesses more and more evidence of barbaritysanctio…ed by his government. Along the way, he picks up traveling companions: a little boy, adeserting soldier, a failed priest, a rape victim. A grim film, but one not entirely devoid of hope:humanity still exists amidst the savagery, and there is a hint of magic realism that takes the storyinto the realm of the allegorical. Sayles’ revelations may not be news to most of us, but hischaracters are as fully realized as ever.
The film opens with a soundscape of night noises (birdsong, insect calls) that makes verydelicate use of surround capabilities. And so it goes with the rest of the film. There is some rearspeaker presence (often with music), but by and large the 2.0 mix is very low key (though thecrowd scenes are quite lively). The sound is very clean and crisp.
The 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen picture is lush and sharp. If the colours are a bit on thedark side (with a couple of shots coming close to being murky), and the flesh tones a little heavyon the pink, the greens of the jungle are most impressive. The print isn’t in perfectly pristineconditions, with slight instances of speckling and dirt intruding.
John Sayles provides another of his consistently intelligent commentaries. He covers a fairbit of technical background, but he also keeps coming back to he goals and themes of his film.He’s a terrific speaker. The only other extras are trailers for this other Sayles films:Limbo, Passion Fish, and Sunshine State. The menu is basic.
Interesting to compare Men With Guns to the other new release The DancerUpstairs. Another thoughtful, caring film from John Sayles.
Special Features List
- Director’s Commentary