By :Billy Gil | Posted: 09 Apr 2010
Oren Moverman doesn’t aim to convince viewers of one particular thing with his film The Messenger (on DVD/Blu-ray May 18 from Oscilloscope Laboratories), which tells the story of two soldiers who notify next of kin that their family member has died in battle.
“I think that people come into the film with certain kinds of biases and maybe walk out with certain biases enhanced and others changed,” Moverman says of the film, which he says has seen support both from left-wing anti-war activists and the U.S. Army itself, which approved the film and allowed a colonel to be a technical advisor on the film, helping gain access to military bases and learning the language of the military.
“It didn’t interfere with the creative process,” Moverman said. “It really kind of saved the day a lot of times.”
The $29.99 DVD and $34.99 Blu-ray Disc contain a short film called “Notification,” a companion piece to the film directed by late filmmaker Joe Kelly, in which real Casualty Notification service members are interviewed.
“When I saw [“Notification”], knowing that it was going to be on the DVD, I almost thought, as emotional as The Messenger is, there’s something about seeing the real people and listening to them … that is, in a way, more emotional than the film itself,” Moverman said.
The DVD and Blu-ray also will include a commentary with Moverman, stars Ben Foster and Woody Harrelson, and producer Lawrence Inglee; behind-the-scenes footage; and a Q&A with the cast and crew. What the releases will not contain are deleted scenes.
“I do have to say the film is the cut that I wanted and the cut we all felt strongest of,” Moverman said of the half an hour or so of scenes that were cut from the film for aesthetic reasons and for time. (The film, as it stands, is nearly two hours.)
Moverman says he has not yet seen The Messenger on Blu-ray but that extensive, subtle sound-work was done on the film that could be greatly enhanced by high-definition.
“The thing that’s exciting to me about [the DVD and Blu-ray release] is there’s a whole new audience exposed to the film, and it if it’s on Blu-ray, this kind of technology is giving them a more enhanced experience,” Moverman said.
Indeed, The Messenger made just more than $1 million at the U.S. box office, but with Oscar nominations both for Moverman (best original screenplay) and Harrelson (best supporting actor), the filmmaker said the film has gotten much more attention that it would have normally. He hopes with the film’s DVD/Blu-ray release, more people will see the film and draw their own conclusions about the film’s message.
“I think what [the film] does is present [its subject] as objectively as possible,” Moverman says. “What that does is open debate.”
“I think a big thing in The Messenger is this question we kept asking ourselves, ‘how do you get through life, knowing there’s grief and hardships, how do you go on living?’ The answer is through the simplest thing — love, friendship, humor and finding things in other people that make their lives better.”