Always (1989)

To start, I truly don’t know how I’ll put this movie into words.  As much as I try to hold myself back from saying it, I can’t help but shout it out to all of you reading this: “Always” is a great movie!

The story is about a dare-devil aerial pilot’s passion for firefighting forest wildfires, and how he is mad-in-love with his girl, Dorinda.  But Pete, the pilot, one day enters a situation he cannot get out of and he crashes and dies.  Yet Pete is not fully dead.  Instead, a supernatural woman named Hap tells him how he must give back to another pilot what he was given: inspiration.  Though they cannot see him or hear him, he can still talk to them, and eventually they register that talking as if it were their own minds thinking.  But Pete encounters a deep struggle when Dorinda enters his “life” again, and he is faced with difficult circumstances that will either change him drastically, or the lives of them around him. (Running Time: 122 minutes)(Rated PG)

I know I don’t do the movie’s plot justice for sure.  Its a bit complicated story to explain anyways.  Watching the movie is easier then explaining it.

The film stars Richard Dreyfuss as the hotshot pilot Pete; Holly Hunter as Pete’s love, Dorinda; John Goodman as Pete and Dorinda’s quirky, sometimes goofy friend Al; with special appearances by Audrey Hepburn as the…angel, Hap (and this film marks her last appearance on the big screen).  The film deserves a pat on the back for its acting, what with the talent the filmmakers of “Always” chose so decisively.  I’m not sure if I’d give any major awards for these acting roles, but its pretty darn close, if you know what I mean.

Surprisingly, this drama was directed by Steven Spielberg.  Why such a surprise?  During the eighties, Steven was still viewed as an action/adventure directing, and had not had joined the caliber of other directors for dramatic presentations.  Even though his more recent films before “Always” like “The Color Purple” and “Empire of the Sun” were box-office successes, they did not move all the critics just yet.  They felt he should just stick with his blockbuster suspense movies.  I say, if we were just looking at Always, Steven undoubtedly made a great drama!  It felt quite personal of a film, which made it more enjoyable.  Spielberg obviously wore the director’s hat on the project with a great deal of cleverness, care, and gentleness.  It shows!–really it does!

The script was written quite nicely as well!  It focused a lot on the characters and their attachments; it did a good job in showing how we can be attached to someone we love so much, and how if we let it sink too deep into our skins, it can ultimately hurt us.  I enjoyed the pace of Always as well.  Do you ever notice when sitting through a (for example) 100 minute film that they can drag, sometime?  Does a particular movie come to mind when I say that?  Often the case is because there are too many scenes crammed into one movie, and they are often to brief, cut quickly, and just zoom by; they don’t focus at times.  So, even though its only 100 minutes, it feels like 200 minutes sometimes because of all the scenes it it.  Think of “The Godfather” sped up ten times.  Going back to the subject at hand……the story’s premise was also creative.  Its an optimistic story by sharing with a audience member who has an open mind, that there might be something after we die.  Always did not point towards any religious direction, but had reference to heaven near the end.  (I’m often intrigued when they bring that sort of subject up in a film; usually, because I’m interested in how they will handle it in their story).  Always was written to capture the audiences’ attention and gently force them to stay in their seats and soak in the story and its meaning.  (Some folks believe this film was copied and adapted into the popular film, “Ghost”, actually).

The idea of the film started when Steven Spielberg and Richard Dreyfuss were still shooting “Jaws”, and recalled on set a movie they both loved called “A Guy Named Joe”, which they wanted to someday adapt to modern cinema.  Thirteen years or so later, they got to fulfill that idea.  (The screenplay turns in a different direction then the early fifties picture, though).  Filming took place in and around Libby, Montana, and Kootenai National Forest, Montana, and a few exterior scenes were shot in Washington state.

Critically, the film was not a success.  Roger Ebert said it was “Spielberg’s weakest film since his comedy 1941“.  But financially, the film did quite well in the United States and foreign box office, grossing over $70 million dollars, on “just” below a $30 million dollar budget.

I have to give this film 6 Stars out of 7.  Its high up there on my list, people.

When you get the chance next time, or you might be dogging the video store for a good family-friendly drama that you all can enjoy, you might want to lean towards getting “Always”.  A great film, with believable acting, a creative story, and a deep meaning.

Poster for Always

About Morgan

January 2016 Update: This blog is under reconstruction. Please be patient while we gradually remove old material, posts, and pages, and create new ones. Thank you.
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One Response to Always (1989)

  1. dante668 says:

    I might have to check this one out. I don’t watch nearly enough “feelgood” movies, and Spielberg and Dreyfuss worked well together in Jaws. Great review!


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