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Chopper

Theatrical poster
Directed by Andrew Dominik
Produced by Michele Bennett
Written by Screenplay:
Andrew Dominik
Books:
Mark Brandon Read
Starring Eric Bana
Simon Lyndon
David Field
Bill Young
Music by Mick Harvey
Cinematography Geoffrey Hall
Kevin Hayward
Editing by Ken Sallows
Studio Australian Film Finance Corporation (AFFC)
Mushroom Pictures
Pariah Entertainment Group
Distributed by First Look Pictures
Release date(s) 3 August 2000
Running time 94 minutes
Country Australia
Language English

Chopper is a 2000 Australian film, written and directed by New Zealand film-maker Andrew Dominik and based on the semi-autobiographical books by Mark Brandon "Chopper" Read. The film stars Eric Bana as the title character, and co-stars Vince Colosimo, Simon Lyndon, Bill Young and David Field.

Contents

Plot

In and out of jail since he was 16, Melbourne extortion man Mark Read (Eric Bana) kidnaps a judge to get his childhood friend, Jimmy Loughnan (Simon Lyndon), out of the notorious H Division of maximum security Pentridge Prison. He fails and is sentenced to 16 and a half years in the very prison in which Loughnan is serving his time. To become leader of the division, he ignites a power struggle which gains him more enemies than admirers. Eventually, even his gang turn their backs on him, and Loughnan stabs him. Read voluntarily has his ears cut off by a fellow inmate in order to be transferred out of the H Division; this also gains him recognition in and out of the prison.

Bana as Australian criminal Chopper Read in his breakthrough film role in Chopper (2000)

He is released in 1986, revisiting enemies and friends who he cannot differentiate anymore. He reunites with his former girlfriend Tanya (Kate Beahan), but suspects that she is involved with one of his old victims, Neville Bartos (Vince Colosimo). He tracks Bartos down, shoots him and takes him to the hospital, unabashedly claiming that he has a "green light" courtesy of the police "to exterminate scum". When Chopper learns that he is now the target of a contract, he goes after his old friend Jimmy, only to find him worn out by drugs, two children and a junkie fiancée.

He kills a criminal known as Sammy the Turk (based on real-life criminal Siam Ozerkam, whom Read allegedly killed) at a bar, but gets away with it by claiming it was self-defence. He eventually ends up in prison where he writes a book about his experiences in the underground crime scene in Melbourne. The book becomes a best-seller, and Read becomes a criminal legend and a cult figure.

The film ends with Read in his prison cell in 1992, watching himself being interviewed on television. He is proud of the interview among those watching with him, but when they leave he goes quiet, and the film ends with Read sitting in his cell alone.

Production

The biggest production difficulty was being allowed to use the Pentridge Prison in Coburg, Victoria for the shooting. The prison was being closed down and while the negotiations were underway, the funding for production was delayed. This put off the starting of the shoot.

To show the sterility of the prison and to contrast it with the world that Read encounters after leaving prison 16 years later, the production was split into two. The first part, filmed at the H Division of Pentridge Prison, one of the actual prisons that Read frequented, was as plain and sterile as could be, and all the scenes in the second part, taking place in 1986 were overly coloured, to achieve a paranoid and agoraphobic atmosphere, called "visual overload" by the director Andrew Dominik. This was attained by lighting, choice of film stock used and colours chosen for set decoration. Part one of the production ran from May 3 until May 26 with part two continuing from June 28 until July 21, 2000.

Some extras were hired from former inmates and tattoo parlors. Bana spent two days with Read to gain an insight into the role he was to play, and many of Read's friends, enemies, and old associates were interviewed.

Response

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Reviews

Chopper was received with generally positive reviews. Review-based rating site Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a 71 percent "Fresh" rating.[1] Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film 3 stars out of 4, praising Eric Bana for his performance, saying "He has a quality no acting school can teach and few actors can match".

Reaction from Mark "Chopper" Read

Read himself suggested that Bana play him, after seeing the actor in the sketch comedy series Full Frontal. Bana spent two days living with Read to help him practice for the role. Read later praised Bana's performance on the 20 to 1 episode Great Aussie Films, where Chopper came 17th.[citation needed] Several of Bana's meetings with Read can be viewed in the DVD Special Features.

Awards

References

  1. ^ "Chopper". Rotten Tomatoes. http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/chopper/. Retrieved 2009-06-07. 

External links


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