"This is not 'like TV, only better.' This is like a piece of someone's life, straight from the cerebral cortex" - Lenny Nero

Strange Days was a strong return to form for Kathryn Bigelow. Kathryn Bigelow made an extraordinary explosion onto the genre scene with Near Dark (1987), surely the most dazzling and original reinvention of the vampire myth conducted in the last decade. Unfortunately Kathryn Bigelow’s subsequent films – the psycho-thriller Blue Steel (1990) and the amazingly silly skydiving/surfing bank robbers film Point Break (1991) and following this, the historical murder mystery The Weight of Water (2000) and the submarine drama K19: The Widowmaker (2002) – showed her to be a stylist lacking in particularly worthwhile story choice. But with Strange Days, Bigelow has the backing of her former husband James Cameron.

James Cameron is a director/writer with a rare intelligence. He creates massive action and special effects films, but ones that also have a solidly human core to them. Cameron, co-writing here along with Time magazine film critic Jay Cocks, creates an impressive film. Strange Days is a long film, perhaps a little too long. But Cameron and Cocks cover much, including questioning the central technology with an uncommon sensitivity – Ralph Fiennes’s sales pitches for it are persuasive, but the film also makes strong moral points about the technology’s usage. It is perhaps no real surprise coming from James Cameron that the end of the film opts for an abandonment of Ralph Fiennes’s virtual memories for real love. The triumph of the human is always at the centre of Cameron’s films and Strange Days offers up the hope of a real vs a virtual relationship as making the difference in a world going to hell in a hand-basket. The climax the film reaches feels a little false – the hero rejects virtuality in favour of the real relationship under his nose and the corrupt cops are arrested. But nothing is done to save the world all around and heal the deep racial divide the film exposes. Perhaps it is Kathryn Bigelow’s fault that she creates such a grim and overwhelming vision of the world that such an ending seems trite. (One also fails to believe that such advanced technology would be in street usage by the turn of the millennium, a mere five years from the time the film was made).

James Cameron: "It was a story idea that I'd been kicking around for about nine years. I wrote a 90 page treatment, which was a kind of first draft, if you will. Then Jay Cocks generated a true script-form draft from the 90 page treatment."

"(Writing the script) went through stages. I went off to my cave and came up with the initial document. It was supposed to be a treatment, but it was almost as long as a script, so we called it a "script-ment." It was practically a novel, but it was unwieldy; it needed structure. It was so Byzantine and had so much in it.

We were really going for an epic character drama in a very near future environment: 1999 Los Angeles, the eve of the millennium, the eve of the apocalypse, maybe. I wound up with a lot of stuff in the treatment, a lot of texture. It was also a thriller with a very convoluted plot line. In the meantime, we brought in Jay Cox, with whom Kathryn had worked on her Joan of Arc project. Jay did a draft, did a great job structuring Strange Days. Then I came back in and did a dialogue polish on top of his draft"

Kathryn Bigelow makes riveting use of handheld camera throughout. Unlike most VR films, she makes the logical choice of showing the memory playbacks completely from a first-person camera point-of-view. The long scene involving the murder of Jeriko shot in first person camera is absolutely riveting. And there’s a fabulous sequence that opens the film of a playback of a robbery, which contains a dizzying jump between buildings and a landing on fingertips on the roof’s edge, all conducted in subjective point-of-view camerawork.

Taken from Moria.co.nz


20th Century Fox and Lightstorm Entertainment 1995

Director: Kathryn Bigelow

Writers: James Cameron and Jay Cocks
Actors: Ralph Fiennes, Angela Basset, Juliette Lewis

Producers: James Cameron and Steven-Charles Jaffe
Composer: Graeme Revell

Release Date: October 13, 1995
Running Time: 145 min.

MPAA Rating: R Production Budget: $42,000,000


Domestic Gross: $7,919,000