Eureka (1983)

Nicolas Roeg directs Gene Hackman, Theresa Russell and Rutger Hauer in this violent mystery about a gold prospector who later gives up on life when the mafia become interested in the island paradise he has bought and his sexy heiress daughter marries a cad.

Whoah! This is about as existentially bleak as cinema gets. A movie of moments… big, indelible colour scream shock moments! Don’t expect a straightforward or generically consistent narrative. We start in the wastelands of the freezing Klondike in conflict. Strike it rich. Then enter a dying fantasy involving a tree of life and witch’s hovel / poorly located brothel. Hackman sells the determination and despair of a man of action in these sequences. His gruff manliness becomes achingly vulnerable to the deadly elements, his macho aggression is broken down by the hopelessness of his greed. That’s Act One. We then get into gangsters, playboys, familial sexual jealousy, a voodoo sex orgy, a murder with blowtorch and machete. We are not certain if this is Hackman’s death dream still (the bloody feathers and hardwood backing board of a key scene visually match his weakened snowy moments of surrender in the wasteland). The third act is a recreation of a real life court case. The victim’s brutalised body becomes a blow-up poster. Both evidence and grisly witness to the proceedings. Justice is subverted and the witness box is used to make power plays, discuss love and fidelity. It feels like the end of a different film… although does give us more screentime with Russell and Hauer – both of whom are as hot as ever. As with all of Roeg’s time hopping, discombobulated works, Eureka is hard to get a true grip on in first watch. But for all its spectacular ungainlyness it is a violent, steamy, well acted experience. You don’t walk away from the cinema feeling you haven’t seen something. Something unique, something cinematic.

7

My Top 10 Gene Hackman Movies

1. The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)

2. The Conversation (1974)

3. Reds (1981)

4. The French Connection (1971)

5. The Poseidon Adventure (1972)

6. Unforgiven (1992)

7. The Quick and the Dead (1995)

8. Superman (1978)

9. Heist (2000)

10. Bonnie and Clyde (1968)

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