Born On The Fourth Of July (BLU-RAY)

Born on the Fourth of July

On Blu-Ray: 
Thursday, August 9, 1990
Running Time: 
2 Hours, 24 Minutes

This is the first time the film has ever been on Blu-Ray.

Born On The Fourth Of July is based on the true story of Ron Kovic, an all American kid that decides after High School that he wants to serve his country in the Vietnam War. The beauty of Stone’s Academy Award winning film is that it stares at the bare fundamentals of war as an argument, taking in the dualities of patriotism, society, and war itself, a task made easier by putting them all in contrast with the life of one man.

Stone shows Kovic to be the red blooded American teen, guided by the smiles and pats on the back of his elders, and encouraged to do what’s “right” by serving in the war. I put right in quotations because as the beginning of the film unfolds we see Kovic pressured to be the perfect son, the perfect Christian, and the perfect American. Is what’s right in his mind a true grasp of the word or, like many young men back then, a preprogrammed response fed in by the world at large? The quote “Love It Or Leave It”, which Kovic uses several times during the film, is tantamount to the past 10 years where we find the youth embroiled in a misguided protest against a hot button issue like illegal immigration in this country without truly grasping an understanding of what it means to say (or should I say Facebook post) a phrase like “They need to be deported”. There’s no all encompassing insight, just a basic need to ride the easy in to acceptance at an age where they still haven’t figured things out.

What’s also great about this film is that it doesn’t shine a heavy light on the actual war itself. Kovic spends very little time in battle, just enough to where we see the brutality and unruly world in which chaos and fear is matched with a lack of accountability, and some brief back flashes. Instead Stone focuses on the aftermath. In some respects I find that this film shares a lot of themes with Kubrick’s oft misunderstood A Clockwork Orange. Kovic, like young Alex, re-enters the world a changed man and finds that the society that put so heavy a burden on doing what is right is actually full of shit. One of the best examples in the film is where Kovic’s old High School friend Steve Boyer, who decided not to go to war and stay in college, offers him a job at one of his burger chains. The conversation ends with Steve waxing poetic about how the war was a lie and look what it got Kovic, crippled and living off of the governments charity. Later on during a parade for the soldiers Boyer is seen on a patriotic float in the parade showing his support to soldiers like Kovic, a simple ruse that equally represents society as a whole.

Stones Born On The Fourth Of July remains a relevant tale of war, society, and humanity. The whole Love It Or Leave it remark hasn’t gone away. Things are basically the same as they ever were in war, the treatment of our soldiers, and the way we as a society split right down the seam when it comes to war and argue over whether it’s wrong or right allowing the big questions to fall by the wayside. I haven’t seen Born On The Fourth Of July in so long and this re-visit still amazed me. A fantastic film worthy of all it’s praise. So how did it look on Blu-Ray?

Color in this picture is very organic and vivid at times offering say, rows of canned food in the family supermarket, a fine amount of stand out detail. As for detail as a whole it’s about 90/100. There are some wide out exterior shots that can become as bit too grainy for my liking causing the picture to go soft, but Universal manages to capture the films intended look from the grimy dark of the vet hospital to the blue skies of the old neighborhood. There is a lot of really rich tight close shots that I think pay tribute to the make up team that helped age Cruise throughout the film and the fact that the definition is so high yet the make up never seems flawed. It’s not perfect but it’s close enough.

Audio is a feast. LFE output gives the war time scenes a beautiful all encompassing feel providing front, side, and rear channels enough flexibility to really bring the scenes to life. Helicopter propellers chop through the air on your right, gun fire and scattered voices to the left and behind you, and explosions rumble the foundations of your living room. Main dialogue sits up front offering a clear place in the chaos where applicable but also providing crystal clarity when Kovic with family or friends. The films soundtrack manages to find its spot in the soundscape making for a great at home cinematic experience.

~Commentary Track: Listen to this.
~ From The NBC News Archives - Back-story: Kovic, Cruise, and Stone all share their thoughts on the film and it’s place with Bryant Gumbel. Good stuff.
~100 Years of Universal - The 80’s and Academy Award Winners programs.
~DVD Version
~Digital Version

AJ Garcia
Review by AJ Garcia
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