A life or death battle through the centuries. A French protagonist who did not speak a word of English. One of the greatest rock groups of the time gives its support and boosts with the soundtrack. And one of the biggest movie stars in the world serving as a mentor. There can only be one. Highlander – The Immortal Warrior, a classic from the 1980s, celebrates its 35th anniversary of release in 2021. For the party, excellent news for fans of the production (and why not, of the franchise it has become): the remake , who will bring Henry Cavill as protagonist and Chad Stahelski (John Wick) as director, begins filming next year. The project previously had Ryan Reynolds linked to the star. Other than that, the 1986 production is currently in the Netflix collection, and you can warm up the engines, review it, or check it out for the first time.
Highlander premiered at a festival in France in January 1986, then moved to the United States in March of the same year. The idea for a story of immortals living through the centuries and fighting until there is only one, came from the mind of screenwriter Gregory Widen and was its first cinematographic work. Later, Widen would go on to deliver the script for another beloved blockbuster, Fire Curtain, a firefighter action movie that turns 30 in 2021 and is also part of Netflix’s current collection.
Also read: NETFLIX | 30 years of “curtain of fire” – When firefighters were superheroes
Inspiration for the screenwriter came during a holiday trip to Scotland. Widen, during a visit to a museum, came across some ancient armor and wondered what it would look like if the man who wore it then was still alive today. Another source of inspiration for the writer was The Duelists (1977), the iconic Ridley Scott’s debut film. In the film, two soldiers from Napoleon’s time engage in violent clashes in a series of duels. Most impressive, however, was that Widen wrote the backbone of this screenplay while attending the University of California. At the time, the title was “Dark Knight” and served as his graduation thesis. Soon after, he would sell the script for $ 200,000. In her original screenplay, Widen had created a much darker, visceral story about the lives of these immortals – it remains to be seen whether those new to them involved will stray from that premise.
Directing the feature film, filmmaker Russell Mulcahy was behind the clips, having directed many of them starring Elton John and the group Duran Duran, for example. Mulcahy had impressed from his debut in cinema with the horror The Razor’s Cut (1984), cult of a killer boar. So even though this is an independent production with a budget of around $ 19 million, the filmmaker has taken his biggest career step with Highlander – The Immortal Warrior. Interestingly, the original title of the movie would be “Shadow Clan”, something like “Shadow Clan”.
The plot everyone should know, and it starts in the present (well, at least the present of 1986). After watching a WWE match, Connor MacLeod struggles in the event parking lot with another man wielding swords. At the end of the fight, Connor manages to behead his rival, but finds himself trapped. He also begins to remember his past. His long past dates back to the 15th century, when he was born in a village in Scotland and discovered his immortality for the first time. In this past, after a battle, he is injured and presumed dead. But he eventually finds out that he can’t really die and when others around him realize this, they believe he made a pact with the devil and banished him from the village. He is found by the Egyptian Ramirez, who explains his condition to him, being like him, and begins to train him as a mentor. Over the centuries, Connor now lives by another name in the present, New York City, as the owner of an upscale antique store. At his heels, a forensic expert intrigued by the possible state of the subject, who will become his love, and an old rival named Kurgan, hailing from centuries past, eager to defeat him in a deadly fight – which cannot happen , of course, with the beheading of the other.
For the protagonist role of the immortal Connor MacLeod, many actors were considered and tested. Star Kurt Russell was even hired to play the character, but left the project during the pre-production phase due to the insistence of his girlfriend Goldie Hawn. Russell then starred in Adventurers from the Forbidden Quarter, by his friend John Carpenter, released that same year. In addition to Russell, other actors considered for the lead role were Mel Gibson, Michael Douglas, Kevin Costner, William Hurt, Ed Harris, Mickey Rourke, Peter Weller (the Robocop) and even musician Sting – also targeted to supply the band. original production. . Even wrestler Hulk Hogan claims he was cast for the role of Connor but turned it down because he wanted to focus on his WWE career.
The role, as we know, ended up in the hands of Frenchman Christopher Lambert, who had impressed everyone in the global film industry with his performances in Greystoke – The Legend of Tarzan (1984) and Subway (1985). The filmmakers, however, were shocked and desperate to discover, after signing Lambert’s contract, that the actor did not speak a word of English. This was a problem, because the film would be specifically recorded in that language, as an American production. In his only other American film, the aforementioned Greystoke, he experienced a realistic Tarzan and said next to nothing. The solution was to embed a dialogue trainer so that the actor could develop a cosmopolitan accent, without representing a specific region.
Highlander’s biggest signing would be Sean Connery, at the time a more than established star, having had great success, for example, in seven films in the 007 – James Bond franchise. According to reports, Connery was offered the lead role and also that of the villain, before taking an interest in playing Ramirez, the protagonist’s Egyptian mentor, who teaches him the art of sword-wielding and the art of swordplay. immortality. Connery and Lambert got along really well behind the scenes and became friends. Jokingly, Lambert claimed the veteran got drunk in several of his scenes in Scotland. Before Connery accepted the role, actors like Clint Eastwood, Gene Hackman, Michael Caine, and Peter O’Toole were considered to be playing Ramirez.
To play the character of Brenda Wyatt, the geek who becomes Connor’s current love interest, actresses such as Sigourney Weaver, Glenn Close, Linda Hamilton, Karen Allen, Demi Moore and Diane Lane were among the finalists. Two others, however, almost succeeded. Brooke Adams (In the Dead Zone Time) was the initial choice, and Catherine Mary Stuart (Night of the Comet) was even hired, but for some reason soon after she was fired. In her place came Roxanne Hart.
As the Kurgan antagonist, veteran Clancy Brown. The actor reportedly based his performance of the barbarian warrior on Arnold Schwarzenegger, not Conan, but The Terminator’s T-800 robot, released two years earlier. Coincidentally, the former Austrian actor, Governor of California, was offered the role of the villain in Highlander, but declined.
For many fans, the real attraction of Highlander – The Immortal Warrior is even the soundtrack composed entirely by the band Queen. What’s curious is that at first the band only recorded one song for the soundtrack, but after watching scenes from the film, they were inspired to write more. The flagships of such a song, of course, are the iconic “Princes of the Universe”, “Who Wants to Live Forever” and “It’s a Kind of Magic”. Before Queen immortalized Highlander with her sound, artists such as David Bowie, Sting, and Duran Duran were considered to be composing the music for the soundtrack. And in a not-so-smart move, the forgotten Marillion even turned down the directors’ offer, due to a scheduling conflict with a tour they were doing at the time.
Highlander, of course, would generate his first sequel in 1991 – he’ll be 30 in 2021. After that, three more films (the last being a video release), two TV series (one in the early 90s and one in the late 1990s. 90s). ) and an animated series (also in the 90s). All of this success, however, came unexpectedly. Highlander’s story arc is closed in on itself, and the sequel to this story was never planned. Imagine that a plot where there is ultimately only one immortal left, as it is “sung” throughout the screening of the original, does not ask and could not even continue. By defeating the Last Immortal, Connor received the “prize,” finally earning his mortality for growing old, being able to have children, and living a normal life.
Add to that the fact that Highlander was not a box office success. Quite the contrary, with a mediocre marketing campaign to say the least, The Immortal Warrior can be seen as a flop, a box office failure generating just $ 13 million back out of its $ 19 million budget. The film, however, would prove to be one of the first great examples of the power of video rental stores in the 1980s. It is precisely because of the cult status that the work has acquired through word of mouth. , who even with its failure in theaters, already a legion, was on board loving the feature film – which made possible a sequel, which will be released five years later, and all that mythology around a single story.
That is, on the occasion of the franchise’s 35th anniversary, the original and set to be saved as a reboot for modern times, with big names involved, it it’s time to bring Highlander back into pop culture, to see and revisit. And above all, do not be like Christopher Lambert, who claims to have seen the feature film only once, when it premiered in 1986.
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