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SOLDIER: FROM SCRIPT TO SCREEN

Written By:

Martin Unsworth
soldier3

By Martin Unsworth

Who in their right mind would put a book together chronicling the making of the 1998 film Soldier? Despite starring Kurt Russell, being directed by Paul W.S. Anderson, and written by David Webb Peoples (who wrote the bone fide classics Blade Runner, Unforgiven, and 12 Monkeys), the movie disappeared from the public’s consciousness quite soon after its box office failure. It rarely even turns up in ‘beloved VHS’ lists. Despite all that, author Danny Stewart has compiled an interesting array of interviews and a smattering of essays to tell the story of how the film reached cinemas.

Of the interviews, screenwriter Peoples is the biggest catch and opens the Q&A section of the book strongly. Once we get past the first few questions (which should have been lost or at least trimmed in the edit, to be honest), he’s open and very revealing about the experience of writing the script, dispelling rumours that he intended it to be based in the Blade Runner universe (it was marketed by Anderson on release as being a ‘sidequel’ to Ridley Scott’s classic). He finishes on the fact he hasn’t actually seen the finished product!

While not as well-known names, the interviews with the behind-the-scenes crew provide the most interesting information, and Stewart has managed to seek out an impressive array of talent. The only actor present is Mark Bringelson, who played Rubrick. His short chat features a wonderful ‘don’t say anything but say it all’ moment when he says, “Don’t ask me about Gary [Busey]”. By not having any more actors represented, the interviews focus fully on the technical aspects of making the film, which it does well. For example, Vin Ling, the visual effects supervisor, provides a seven-page answer for just one question!

The essays that close out the book are a mixed bag of reviews and analyses that will certainly want to make you seek the film out again. This is clearly a labour of love for Stewart, and we applaud him for putting together something so in-depth about an almost-forgotten movie. If you’re a Soldier fan, however, this should be in your ‘to read’ pile.

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