Written by: Michael Den Boer on October 12th, 2015
BluRay released: September 22nd, 2015
Approximate running time: 81 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 Aspect Ratio / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Sound: DTS-HD Mono English
Subtitles: English SDH
BluRay Release: Etiquette Pictures
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: $29.98
There are not that many filmmakers whose careers’ has risen as fast as Hopper’s due to the phenomenal success of his debut film Easy Rider. Only to crash and burn, when his follow up film The Last Movie failed to connect with the audiences that were once there.
Content wise, The American Dreamer started out a documentary about The Last Movie and the film making process. Along the way things became more personal as the focus shifted towards Hopper. And what once started off as a documentary has now become a pseudo-documentary as Hopper directly involves himself in the overall creative process. Fortunately in between moments of stage content, there are glimpses of his true persona which shine through.
From a production standpoint L.M. Kit Carson and Lawrence Schiller do a remarkable job shaping the footage that they shot into a compelling exploration of an artist immersed within the creative process. Another strength of this film is its soundtrack which perfectly sets the mood. And when it comes to pacing there is a deliberateness to the narrative that ensures that there are not any lulls.
When discussing this film one must not overlook the contribution of Hopper, who does a remarkable job creating a character that is not that far removed from his own persona. And though this film outwardly bills itself as a documentary, there is far too much evidence that Hopper had a hand in the creative process which extends to the way he portrayed himself.
The American Dreamer comes on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. The original negative for this film was destroyed in a faire many years ago and the only surviving elements are four 16mm prints that over the years had made their rounds theatrically and from these four prints the best elements where compiled for a restoration to make a new master source. For this release a brand new 2k master has been created from that aforementioned restoration and the end results look extremely good. There is a tremendous amount of clarity in every frame, grain look intact and there are no issues with DNR or compression.
This release comes with one audio option, a DTS-HD mono mix in English. There are no issues with distortion and though there are mild issues with background hiss, it is never intrusive. Dialog always comes through clearly and everything sounds balanced. Range wise outside of the film’s score, the rest of the audio mix is limited range wise. Fortunately this is a dialog driven film and everything the viewer needs to hear comes through clear enough to follow. Also included with this release are removable English SDH subtitles.
Extras for this release include, a still photo gallery, a featurette about the restoration of this film titled ‘A Long Way Home’ (7 minutes 6 seconds – 1080 progressive widescreen) and a making of featurette titled ‘Fighting against the Wind’ (29 minutes 40 seconds – 1080 progressive widescreen).
Lawrence Schiller discusses in the extra titled ‘Fighting against the Wind’, how he got involved in the project, how this was not a documentary as much as it was Dennis Hopper portraying an actor and how the editor came up with songs that appear in The American Dreamer. Other topics discussed by cast & crew include, The Last Movie, how the film got picked up for release by Universal and how they were able to get Dennis Hopper final cut, the studio’s reaction to The Last Movie and various memories of working with Dennis Hopper.
Rounding out the extras is a reversible cover art option and a sixteen page booklet with an essay about the film titled ‘The American Dreamer and the Heyday of Campus Film Programming’ written by Chris Poggiali and information about the transfer. Also included with this release is a DVD that has the same content included on the Blu-Ray included as part of this combo release. Overall another exceptional release from Etiquette Pictures, highly recommended.