The Long Good Friday UHD

Director: John Mackenzie
Screenplay: Barrie Keeffe
Starring: Bob Hoskins, Helen Mirren, Derek Thompson, PH Moriarty
Country: UK
Running Time: 114 minutes
Year: 1980

Is there a film that grabs you quite as hard so early on as The Long Good Friday? The moment the scowling, heavy-set Bob Hoskins strides through the airport arrivals to Francis Monkman’s pounding score, the character, the film, the viewer and the British crime film genre are his. He continues to march through the plot, refusing to cede London Dockworks ground to unknown assailants. Could be the IRA or the Mafia, Harold Shand doesn’t give a damn.

What a role. Buried in Shand’s belligerent psyche is Bob’s own London upbringing. His empathetic passion for the area shines through the -for the most part- pent-up violence and makes Harold sympathetic. He’s still a monster, no matter how legitimate he tries to be, but we see his humanity. In one of the archive interviews included on this release, Helen Mirren affectionately calls Hoskins the film’s “engine”.

It’s a perfect description, though Mirren is no slouch; her role as Harold’s devoted girlfriend was apparently a rather stereotypical part until she built her to be so much more. Hoskins’ magnetism and focus extends to everyone around him, especially Mirren, PH Moriarty and Derek Thompson. John Mackenzie’s direction is suitably gritty and he builds the story around Hoskins, who ably takes the weight as his Shand tries to go straight. The narrative dances around setups that have since become tired clichés, but here, still feel fresh. And the set-pieces are incredible examples of doing a great deal with very little.

The Long Good Friday is an important film for many reasons. It’s a fascinating time-capsule for one, building on the real-world concerns of regenerating the Docklands against the backdrop of Northern Ireland politics. In an odd coincidence, the film is named after the day Harold is trying to sign-off on his deal with the Americans, while the Good Friday Agreement was named for the day on which it was signed, nearly twenty years after the film was released.

It also stands as the single best entry in the British Crime genre. Get Carter is a very close second, but Mackenzie’s film has that setting in time and place that borders on realism. Actually, after those two and Hoskins again in Mona Lisa, the genre thins out dramatically. Layer Cake and perhaps Legend the only serious contenders in a sea of Guy Ritchie fuelled pastiche.

Talk of a mooted sequel persisted for many years, but I can’t see how the original could be improved upon. The film’s place in history is assured and those final shots, infuriating as they might be, are tribute to the considerable screen charisma of the much-missed and beloved Bob Hoskins.

VIDEO

Cinematographer Phil Meheux did some great work on The Long Good Friday, but there’s no disguising those grey skies across the Thames. The UHD transfer therefore doesn’t always have a lot to work with. Still, some muddy long shots and occasional blooming aside, detail and texture pops and gleams. Especially in the medium to close shots and interiors.

AUDIO

Usually in older films, you find that the original audio track is the better choice. Surround remixes can sometimes split the centre-channel or sound forced. Not so here, and in fact, the Dolby Atmos track is excellent, nimbly handling quiet dialogue, even in the environmental cacophony this era favoured, like noisy bars (or slaughterhouses in this case), right up to hefty explosions and Francis Monkman’s punchy score. The original 1.0 track occasionally suffers from dialogue almost disappearing.

EXTRA FEATURES

The Long Good Friday has always been served well in previous releases. Arrow have done a great job in retaining archive features while adding some new pieces, particularly in this LImited Edition. Still, I didn’t spot the interview Bob Hoskins did with Barry Norman, where they tour the docklands. That’s worth finding, as is the wonderful Good Friday sketch he did with Jimmy Nail.

  • 4K (2160p) UHD Blu-ray presentation in Dolby Vision (HDR10 compatible)
  • Original uncompressed PCM mono 1.0 and Dolby Atmos audio
  • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • Audio commentary by director John Mackenzie
  • Bloody Business, a documentary about the making of The Long Good Friday, including interviews with John Mackenzie, stars Bob Hoskins, Helen Mirren, Pierce Brosnan, producer Barry Hanson and cinematographer Phil Méheux
  • Hands Across the Ocean, a comparison of the differences between the UK and US soundtracks
  • Q&A with Bob Hoskins and John Mackenzie, moderated by Richard Jobson
  • Interviews with Barry Hanson, Phil Méheux, writer Barrie Keeffe, first assistant director Simon Hinkly and assistant art director Carlotta Barrow
  • Original trailers
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Hannah Gillingham
  • Foldout poster featuring newly commissioned artwork by Hannah Gillingham
  • Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring writing on the film by Mark Duguid, an excerpt from Titan Books’ Very Naughty Boys: The Amazing True Story of Handmade Films by Robert Sellers about the making of The Long Good Friday, and contemporary reviews of the film

The Long Good Friday UHD
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