Review: A Soldier’s Story
Blu-ray: A Soldier’s Story (1984)
A Soldier’s Story is an odd film. Based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning Broadway production of the same name, it features a largely black cast and tells the story of the murder of Vernon Waters, a master sergeant in charge of a company of black soldiers in southern America in 1944.
A black military officer who is also a lawyer is sent to investigate the murder of this sergeant in an army commanded by wholly white officers before segregation had ended, in a time and place where a black officer is unusual to say the least, and hated by nearly everyone he encounters, both black and white.
The actual ‘theme’ of the film is very powerful, and somewhat shocking (I won’t ruin it for you!), and this would have been a real classic if the central protagonist wasn’t so miscast. Adolph Caesar is just wrong in this part and I was amazed to read he’d been nominated for several acting awards including an Oscar for this part. He’s just not scary, and his voice is so annoying that every time he speaks I felt he grated on me. However, the rest of the cast are perfect, including Howard E. Rollins Jr. as Capt. Davenport and of course the great Denzel Washington as Pfc. Peterson.
The other bugbear was the soundtrack by Herbie Hancock. The film is based in the deep south of America in 1944, yet has a soundtrack that at times is too not dissimilar to Harold Faltermeyer’s Beverly Hills Cop score, which gives some parts of the film a comedic ‘vibe’ which doesn’t fit in.
Despite me moaning, I DID enjoy the film, especially when Wings Hauser popped up as the bad guy. It’s rare for me to say this but, I’d welcome a remake of this, and I can imagine Denzel playing the part of Vernon Waters beautifully.
INDICATOR LIMITED EDITION BLU-RAY SPECIAL FEATURES
- 2K restoration
- Original stereo audio
- Audio commentary with director Norman Jewison (1999)
- The DP/30 Interview with Norman Jewison (2010, 69 mins): comprehensive, three-part overview, in which Jewison reflects on his four decades as a director, conducted by film historian David Poland
- March to Freedom (1999, 15 mins): documentary on the experiences of African American soldiers during World War II, narrated by Paul Winfield
- Original theatrical trailer
- Image gallery: promotional and publicity materials
- New and improved English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
- Limited edition exclusive 36-page booklet with a new essay by Molefi Kete Asante, extracts from Norman Jewison’s autobiography recounting the making of A Soldier’s Story, an archival interview with cinematographer Russell Boyd, an overview of contemporary critical responses, and film credits
- UK premiere on Blu-ray
- Limited edition of 3,000 copies
A Soldier’s Story is released 14th December 2020.