Written by: Michael Den Boer on May 14th, 2015
Theatrical Release Date: UK, 1980
Director: John Mackenzie
Writer: Barrie Keeffe
Cast: Bob Hoskins, Helen Mirren, Dave King, Bryan Marshall, Derek Thompson, Eddie Constantine, Paul Freeman, Leo Dolan, Pierce Brosnan
BluRay released: May 4th, 2015
Approximate running times: 114 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: 18 (UK)
Sound: LPCM Mono English
Subtitles: English SDH
BluRay Release: Arrow Video
Region Coding: Region B / Region 2 NTSC
Retail Price: £18.99
Synopsis: A British crime boss who has spent the last ten years peacefully building his empire has his life tuned upside down when a series of bombs threatens to scare off a potential partnership with the U.S. mafia.
The Long Good Friday was directed by John Mackenzie whose other notable films include, Unman, Wittering and Zigo, A Sense of Freedom and the controversial short film Apaches. A key collaborator on The Long Good Friday was cinematographer Phil Meheux who’s other notable films include, Scum, Goldeneye and Casino Royale.
Reportedly The Long Good Friday was held back a year, when it’s originally investors back out due to backlash over content matter in the film. It was also at this early stage that this project was intended to be made into a T.V. movie. Fortunately new investors would be found, the film would be released theatrically and more importantly without any alterations.
Content wise, this film goes against the grain when compared to other Gangster themed films. With the narrative focus more on The Who and The Why are things happening to the protagonist. And though this film dialog driven film, it is it’s the violent set pieces which ultimately set the tone of the film. Also this film is wonderfully paced as it lets each new revelation have just enough time to sink in before moving on to its next plot twist. The most surprising asset of this film is Francis Monkman’s evocative synth infused score.
Another strength of this film is its visuals which do a superb job keeping the viewer unbalanced and no more is then evident then when a jarring moment like a bomb going off occurs. Also there is an expected the unexpected vibe that runs throughout this film as it often takes the unconventional route in regards to how information of shown onscreen. With one of this film’s most memorable moments visually being a scene where the protagonists’ henchmen round up his rival crime bosses are all hung upside down inside of a freezer containing meat carcasses.
Being that this is a character driven film it should not come as a surprise that the performance in this film are rock solid. With this film’s most dominating performance coming from Bob Hoskins (Mona Lisa, Who Framed Roger Rabbit) in the role of this film’s protagonist a British crime lord named Harold Shand. He delivers an exceptional performance that has just the right amount of intensity. Another performance of note is Helen Mirren (O Lucky Man!, Excalibur) in the role of Victoria, her character is Shand’s girlfriend. She takes what normally would have been a background role and turns it into a mesmerizing performance that at times rivals Hoskins performance. Other performances of note include Eddie Constantine (Alphaville) in the role of the Mafia boss and Pierce Brosnan (Tomorrow Never Dies, ‘Remington Steele’) in his first feature film, in the role of an IRA hitman.
Overall The Long Good Friday’s meticulously laid out narrative and it’s well defined characters make for a riveting tale that resonates in one’s mind long after its shocking finale.
The Long Good Friday comes on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. For this release a brand new 2k transfer was created from the film original camera negative. There are no issues with compression or DNR and grain looks natural. Also flesh tones look accurate, colors are nicely saturated, black land contrast levels are consistent strong throughout.
This release comes with one audio option, a LPCM mono mix in English and removable English SDH subtitles have also been included. The audio was sounds great as dialog is always clear, albeit very thick accents and everything sounds balanced. Range wise things sound very good with the film’s soundtrack having just the right amount of fullness and the more ambient aspects of the soundtrack being well represented throughout this audio mix.
Extras for this release include, a trailer for the film (4 minutes 37 seconds), a featurette titled ‘Hands Across the Ocean’ that gives examples of how the soundtrack for the American theatrical release slightly differs from the film’s original soundtrack which featured a thick cockney accents (7 minutes 10 seconds), an interview with screenwriter Barrie Keeffe (8 minutes 28 seconds), an interview with producer Barry Hanson (5 minutes 40 seconds), an interview with cinematographer Phil Méheux (3 minutes 18 seconds), a documentary titled ‘Bloody Business: The Making of The Long Good Friday’ with comments from John Mackenzie, stars Bob Hoskins, Helen Mirren, Pierce Brosnan, producer Barry Hanson and Phil Meheux (54 minutes 52 seconds) and an audio commentary track with director John Mackenzie.
Extras carried over from Anchor Bay’s 2006 release include, the documentary ‘Bloody Business: The Making of The Long Good Friday’ is a rock solid documentary and the insightful audio commentary with John Mackenzie who leaves no stone unturned in regards to the various areas of this film production.
Topics discussed in the interview with Barrie Keeffe include, how the idea for the film came about, the various drafts of the screenplay and the evolution of the script to what eventually made into the film.
Topics discussed in the interview with Barry Hanson Bob Hopkins and his thoughts on the final product.
Topics discussed in the interview with Phil Méheux, how the project began a made for T.V. movie, the look of the film and the restoration that this film underwent for this releases transfer.
Rounding out the extras is limited Edition SteelBook packaging and a sixteen page booklet that contains, cast & crew information, an essay about the film written by Mark Duguid, a Cockney Rhyming Slang G Glossary 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 The Long Good Friday gets a spectacular release from Arrow Video, highly recommended.
Note: The Long Good Friday is also available from Arrow Video as part of their The Long Good Friday + Mona Lisa Limited Edition Blu-Ray / DVD combo release.