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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Cape Fear (1991)

Cape Fear was a movie released in 1991, based on an earlier movie made in 1962 (with some differences). The 1991 movie was made by famed director Martin Scorsese (a tidbit of continuity between the 1962 and the 1991 movie is that some of the main characters of the 1962 movie, Gregory Peck, Robert Mitchum, and Martin Balsam also starred in the 1961 movie, but in a different role. Another tidbit is that the 1991 movie was Gregory Peck's final movie, well almost, he relinquished his retirement temporarily in the 1998 remake of his Moby Dick).

Cape Fear (1991)

The film received critical acclaim, and also did well at the box office. The movie was a dark depiction of the theme of revenge that makes a ex-convict stalk, threaten and violently attack the person whom he believes is responsible for the time he spends in prison, and also threaten his family.
It is also true that the depiction of people in movies made recently show them as having different shades of character, not only black or white. So, in the 1962 movie, the central character of Sam Bowden was much less complex than the character shown in the 1991 film; here he is shown to have several flaws in his character. Additionally, the ex-convict Max Cady is shown to be justified in getting angry at what had been done to him by his own defense lawyer; his lawyer had hidden a document that could have turned the case and caused Cady to be convicted and sent to jail for 14 years for rape.
The movie is all about the desire for revenge, culminating in a final horrific scene of confrontation in an isolated house in stormy conditions. Max Cady (Robert De Niro in an Oscar nominated role) was being tried for the rape and battery of a 16 year old, and in the trial he was defended by the public defender Sam Bowden (Nick Nolte). Cady is illiterate and does not realize that his lawyer had hidden a document that stated that the vitim was promiscuous, something that might have lessened the charge due to doubts about whether the intercourse was consensual or forced.
Now, 14 years later, Max Cady has learnt a lot about the law, and also learnt that his lawyer had not defended him well. He wants revenge on Bowden (and his family) who live in a quiet small town in North Carolina. It is this stalking of Bowden and the sheer venom that De Niro projects that makes this movie great.

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