For one night only fans and newcomers alike were able to experience Scarface on the big screen. The film received the special treatment as an anniversary gift and celebration of it’s release into High Definition on Blu-ray. Check out the Scarface Limited Edition Humidor Gift Set post for information on the special collector’s item and some more detail on the gift set and Blu-ray.
Scarface – Digital Remaster
The first thing that hits you is the clarity of the the title sequence juxtaposed against the awful graininess of the lengthy opening sequence. The stock video used there was already in poor shape as you would expect of that type of source material. I can only imagine trying to restore that kind of footage, still you can already see the vibrancy of the restored palette in the colorful apparel of the late seventies and early eighties.
But perhaps the thing that struck me the most to me during the opening was the pure tones of the Giorgio Moroder musical score. Moroder road the wave of disco transitioning into new wave and electronic music (emerging techno and house varieties) of the early eighties. The pure synth tones and driving beats in alternating tracks really help drive the film. Their quality somehow make the film now a period piece while at the same time helping it not to feel dated if that makes any sense. Instead it presents a capsule not of time solely, but of place. This Miami of the early 80s could be anywhere, anytime under the right (or wrong) circumstances. The audio and in particular this musical score shone throughout.
The color remains strong throughout the film and there are some really beautiful scenes with stunning clarity. However, they couldn’t carry it off throughout the entire film. There were several times when the focus and clarity of the mastering was uneven. One especially noticeable scene is with Tony and Frank in a wideshot sitting on the couch. Parts of the scene felt out of focus. The brighter scenes with the beach in the background suffer from excessive grain too, as do a couple of the extreme pan-out wide-angle shots. This doesn’t detract from the film though and some of the truly beautiful cinematography at those key moments. On the whole the remastering is really impressive.
The Symbolism of Scarface
I could argue that while Wallstreet was the standard for a representation of the ills of the greed in the eighties, Scarface was equally important. But perhaps, now more than ever, Scarface is a symbol of the new millennium conciousness. Tony Montana exudes and preaches this sense of entitlement that permeates society at large now. If everthing is not given to me, I will take it and damn the consequences.
I’ll leave the extensive analyzing to the experts; there are many books and text written on the history, psychology and symbolism of Scarface. I will say, that the thing that draws so many people to Scarface and the character of Tony Montana are the many contrasts within him. He represents all of the best and the worst of all of us and of human nature at various points throughout the film.
He is violent, over-protective, jealous, loving, compassionate, moral, immoral, driven, complacent, insane and everything at different times (and sometimes at the same time) depending on the scene you’re watching. Detractors deride the film for glorifying violence and drug use, but they’re not seeing the bigger picture. As De Palma suggests in the Making Of, to see the things portrayed in this film as pure fantasy is naivety at best.
The World Was His
Ponder this final thought. You can trace a pattern of increasingly poor decisions and mania that slowly lead to the destruction of everything in Tony Montana’s life and ultimately his life itself. However, in the end, the final thing that destroys Tony is not the, SPOILER ALERT, murder of his best friend for sleeping with his sister, it’s his actions prior to that. When Tony does the right thing and stops the assassination because it would have killed two innocent children and their mother, that things really unravel. When he holds to what is pure in his mind (like his idolization of his sister), “No Women, No Kids”, later shared by Jean Reno’s Leon in The Professional, he destroys himself.
The bad guy did himself in by going against his nature, or at least the nature of the character he had become. You’re never gonna see a bad guy like him again… I would say catch Scarface in theaters now, but you can’t, it’s over. Instead grab the [amazon_link id=”B0019N94X6″ target=”_blank” ]Scarface Blu-ray [/amazon_link] or the [amazon_link id=”B004TNGLW0″ target=”_blank” ]Scarface Limited Edition[/amazon_link] Humidor gift set on September 6th and bask in it’s glorious remastering and all the extras included.