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Cult Movie Essentials: Jacob’s Ladder (1990)

Eckhart saw Hell too. He said: The only thing that burns in Hell is the part of you that won’t let go of life, your memories, and your attachments. They burn them all away. But they’re not punishing you, he said. They’re freeing your soul. So, if you’re frightened of dying and… and you’re holding on, you’ll see devils tearing your life away. But if you’ve made your peace, then the devils are really angels, freeing you from the earth

THIS, this film was a huge part of my life. Every conversation about moving pictures I’ve ever had with anyone has always, at some point, centered around this complete and utter masterpiece. Until I was blown away with ‘a prophet’ in 2010 this was, by far, the best film I had ever seen. The most important thing, if you haven’t watched it, is to go in blind. You must, I implore you, you must NOT read or listen to what anyone says. Just WATCH it!!! I promise you it will change the way you see films and create empathy for a character you never thought you could experience.

Acting wise this is just impeccable. I compare all empathic performances I see with Tim Robbins’ depiction of Jacob Singer. It is literally the complete benchmark of acting this kind of role. A specific role where you just feel, plead, dig deep, hope, pray that the character will be OK. It is an absolute master class from beginning to end. After about ten minutes you see everything through Jacobs’s eyes. You experience his terror. You feel his absolute heartache. The epitomes of all of these aspects are no clearer than the ‘bath scene’. Again please, I hope no one reads this until they have watched this film, if not please stop reading now and carry on after 1hr and 53 minutes of the most well spent time of your life.

Before writing this I read up on a few things about the film. I’m quite a narrow minded reviewer in the way I don’t read reviews, unless by Cult Faction and Metallic Pea colleagues that is. I rely purely on my opinion. Now that’s why people should never look at a certain person and think ‘well he knows his shit, it must be worth a watch’. That’s bullshit, it’s our opinion, or if you’re a sell-out, the opinion of who signs your cheque. So you can only get a feel for a film from your own thoughts and that of others. This is why it’s wonderfully refreshing to have such a diverse set of film, tv, comic, cartoon and gaming lovers that we have here. Jesus, anyway!!!

So, I read about how unbelievably influential the director, Adrian Lyne, was on this film. He singlehandedly crafted Jacobs Ladder. All the terror and fear you feel is completely and utterly down to him. He manipulates the scenes to bring the maximum effect of what you experience. Lyne’s decisions throughout the filming were purely to achieve what he so comprehensively has.

A work of art that tears you apart from within.

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