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I Saw the Light (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

July 3, 2016 by  



isawthlight

While Marc Abraham’s “I Saw the Light” is not a wonderful film, it’s not a bad film either. It’s just that it’s a simple, pedestrian biopic that had the potential to be so much more.

Image courtesy of © 2016 I Saw the Light Movie, LLC. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: I Saw the Light

YEAR OF FILM: 2015

DURATION: 124 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 2:40:1 Aspect Ratio, English, French, Thai 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English – Audio Description Track, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Portuguese, Spanish, Chinese (simplified), Chinese (traditional), Korean, Thai

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Classics

RATED: R (Some Language and Brief Sexuality, Nudity)

RELEASE DATE: July 5, 2016


Directed by Marc Abraham

Written by Marc Abraham

Based on the book by Colin Escott, George Merritt, William MacEwen

Produced by Gabor Rajna, Gabor Sipos

Executive Producer: Judit Stalter

Associate Producer: Robert Vamos

Line Producer: Krisztina Pinter

Music by Laszlo Melis

Cinematography by Matyas Erdely

Edited by Matthieu Taponier

Casting by Eva Zabezsinszkij

Production Design by Laszlo Rajk

Art Direction by Hedvig Kiraly

Set Decoration by Dorka Kiss, Judit Varga

Costume Design by Edit Szucs


Starring:

Tom Hiddleston as Hank Williams

Elizabeth Olsen as Audrey Williams

Bradley Whitford as Fred Rose

Cherry Rose as Lillie Williams

Maddie Hasson as Billie Jean Jones

Wrenn Schmidt as Bobbie Jett

David Krumholtz as James Dolan

Josh Pais as Dore Schary

Wesley Robert Lanlois as Don Helms – Steel

Joshua Brady as Sammy Pruett- Guitar

Casey Bond as Jerry Rivers as Fiddle

Michael Rinne as Lum York – Bass

Will Beinbrink as Jim Denny


I SAW THE LIGHT is the story of the legendary country western singer Hank Williams (Tom Hiddleston), who in his brief life created one of the greatest bodies of work in American music. The film chronicles his meteoric rise to fame and its ultimately tragic effect on his health and personal life. Also starring Elizabeth Olsen, Cherry Jones, Bradley Whitford, Maddie Hasson and Wrenn Schmidt.


Hank Williams is a music legend.

One of America’s influential and significant singer/songwriters of the 20th century, unfortunately Williams did not live a long life, considering he recorded 35 singles (five released after his death) and they reached the top 10 of the Billboard Country and Wester Best Sellers chart, and eleven of those 35 singles ranked number one.

Colin Escott, George Merritt and William MacEwen would detail the struggles that Williams faced as a singer/musician and his battle with drugs and alcohol in their book “Hank Williams: The Biography”.  And a film adaptation by filmmaker Marc Abraham (producer of films such as “Air Force One”, “In Time”, “Children of Men”) titled “I Saw the Light” (the title of his song released back in 1948) was released in 2015.

Starring Tom Hiddleston (“The Avengers”, “Thor”, “Thor: The Dark World”, “Crimson Peak”), Elizabeth Olsen (“Avengers: Age of Ultron”, “Godzilla”, “Captain America: Civil War”), Bradley Whitford (“The West Wing”, “The Cabin in the Woods”, “Scent of a Woman”), Cherry Jones (“Signs”, “The Village”, “The Perfect Storm”),  Maddie Hasson (“God Bless of America”, “Twisted”, “The Finder”) and Wren Schmidt (“Preservation”, “Our Idiot Brother”, “13 Hours”).

“I Saw the Light” revolves around Hank Williams marriage and relationship with his first wife Audrey.  As the couple and their bandmates of the Drifting Cowboys band performed together, as much as Williams tried to put his wife first, the problem is that she is not a good singer and his manager and bandmates feel that he must end his musical relationship with her in order for Williams to succeed.

But it leads to challenges between husband and wife and it doesn’t help matters when Williams struggles with alcohol and also has sexual liaisons with other women.

But as his career starts to skyrocket and he finally is accepted for Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry, how will Williams deal with the limelight but will he be able to maintain his marriage?


VIDEO:

“I Saw the Light” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:40:1). Overall picture quality shows amazing detail during closeups. Skin tones are natural, black levels are nice and deep. The film looks great in HD!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

As for the lossless audio, “I Saw the Light” is presented in English, Portuguese 5.1 DTS-HD MA. Also, with French and Thai 5.1 and an English- Audio Description Track Dolby Surround.

The lossless audio for “I Saw the Light” features crystal clear dialogue and music.  Surround sound usage is primarily for crowd ambiance during live performances.   But overall, the lossless audio is very good!

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“I Saw the Light” comes with the following special features:

  • Feature Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by director Marc Abraham
  • Deleted Scenes – (22:07) Featuring an introduction to deleted scenes by Marc Abraham, introductions to each of the deleted scenes (optional) by director Marc Abraham and eleven deleted scenes.
  • Talking Hang – (21:39) A Q&A with Peter cooper (of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum), executive music producer Rodney Crowell and actor Tom Hiddleston.
  • A Night in Nashville: Premiere and Musical Performance by Tom Hiddleston – (10:52)  The premiere of the film and Tom Hiddleston and the musicians play three songs in front of a live audience.
  • Theatrical Trailer – The original theatrical trailer for “I Saw the Light”.

EXTRAS:

“I Saw the Light” comes with a slipcover and an UltraViolet code.


I have to admit that I really knew nothing about Hank Williams’ personal life prior to watching Marc Abraham’s “I Saw the Light”.

Despite having grown up with his music playing when I was younger via my father’s old LP’s, I knew he was a country music legend.  I just didn’t know of the challenges that he faced, the life that he lived and that he died at a young age.

Unfortunately, Williams tale is reminiscent of many other musical talents.  Alcoholism and drug use and literally wreckless living.  But to create a film about a musical legend, who was a significant talent, how would you deal with the personal life issues?

Do you go full on and show how he lived a wreckless life?  Or do you show him as a significant and talented musician?

I’m sure that in today’s society, many have come to terms that musicians aren’t perfect.  Despite their musical accomplishments, not everyone has a perfect personal life and that includes superstars.

From Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, Prince, Janis Joplin, Whitney Houston, Jimmy Hendrix, Kurt Cobain and the list goes on, many talents who have suffered from drug overdoes and in Hank Williams case, his use of alcohol and drugs may have led to the hemorrhages found in his heart and neck.  But it did help end his marriage and him being dismissed by the Grand Ole Opry. Because he was constantly drunk and missing shows.

But how would you portray the character?  Would you do what Danny Boyle did in his 2015 film “Steve Jobs” and really showcase the person’s talent but also showing the person as the ultimate jerk?  Or do you focus on the musical genius that he was, the music that he creates or do you focus on the protagonist’s dysfunctional relationship?  For “I Saw the Light”, writer/director Marc Abraham chose the latter.

For “I Saw the Light”, the film was no doubt sympathetic to Hank Williams.  Part of the difficulty is finding out why Hank Williams lived such a life?  Did his marriage to Audrey drive him to drink?  Did he have this lifestyle before he was married.  If anything, the film shows the two as truly in love but Williams liked to have his fun, while Audrey was not having any of it.

And as I enjoyed the majority of the film, once Audrey leaves Hank, the film story suddenly goes on a downward trajectory.  As the storyline allows to show the drama between Williams and Audrey, showing the other women in his life is not interesting at all.  There is no drama, there really isn’t much of anything.  And that is what is disappoint, you don’t want to have a film with all the wonderful things happening in the first half, but to not build on anything for the second half.

There was potential for exploration of Williams music and why he wrote so many songs to help illustrate why he is a musical legend but filmmaker Marc Abraham chose the less riskiest path, no doubt a simple one for creating this film.

I admit that I was skeptical about English actor Tom Hiddleston playing the country music singer, but I thought his charisma and his singing voice added to the enjoyablity of this film.  Meanwhile, actress Elizabeth Olson did a wonderful job of playing the emotional wife of Williams.  Both talents had wonderful chemistry and made the film enjoyable for me.

As for the Blu-ray release, picture and lossless audio is very good.  While the special features really go into details of Tom Hiddleston’s training to take up the role of Hank Williams, to play the music and sing these classic Williams songs in front of a live audience.

Overall, while Marc Abraham’s “I Saw the Light” is not a wonderful film, it’s not a bad film either.  It’s just that it’s a simple, pedestrian biopic that had the potential to be so much more.

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