NORTHFORK

Content -2
Quality
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Language        
Violence        
Sex        
Nudity        

Release Date: July 11, 2003

Starring: James Woods, Nick Nolte, Daryl
Hannah, Mark Polish, Anthony
Edwards, and Peter Coyote

Genre: Fantasy/Allegory

Audience: Adults REVIEWER: Dr. Tom
Snyder NORTHFORK is a weird,
sometimes pretentious,
allegorical fantasy about a
Midwest town being evacuated
because the government is
building a new dam that will
flood the area. The movie has
a strong spiritual weight to
it, including some biblical
and Christian references, but
its premise is a bit murky.
It’s doubtful that many
viewers will want to penetrate
the murk. Set in 1955, the
movie stars James Woods as
Walter O’Brien, a
black-garbed government agent
who’s traveling with his
son, Willis, to convince the
remaining townsfolk to leave
before the dam drowns their
property. Nick Nolte also
stars as Farther Harlan, a
kindly but irascible cleric
running a small church and an
orphanage who’s taking care
of Irwin, a dying, bedridden
orphan boy abandoned by his
adoptive parents. Walter and
Willis run into a man who’s
built an ark, filling it with
two stuffed animals of various
species along with his two
wives. As Walter and his son
try to convince the man and
his wives that the ark may not
be able to float, Irwin has
dreams about encountering four
angels in one of the houses.
Irwin tries to convince the
angels that he is “the
unknown angel” for whom
they’ve long been
searching. This short synopsis
barely scratches the surface
of the spiritual references in
NORTHFORK. For instance,
Walter, Willis, and the other
government evacuators consider
themselves earthbound angels
helping the townspeople to
“fly to higher ground.”
They even present a pair of
white wings as a gift to those
people who agree to leave.
Walter also carries a Jesus
crucifix hanging on the mirror
of his big black government
car. At one point in the
movie, Patsy Cline sings about
Jesus in “A Closer Walk with
Thee.” Despite all of the
heavy symbolism, which also
includes references to
non-religious things like the
destruction of America’s
pioneer spirit by the wheels
of progress, NORTHFORK lacks
much point to its story. At
first, it appears that Irwin
is just having a fevered dream
about the angels, but this
possibility is abrogated when
Walter and Willis eventually
visit the same house, and
Walter has a brief vision of
the four angels. Of course,
the movie seems to have a lot
to do with the subject of
death. Except, however, for
Father Harlan’s comment near
the end that he is no longer
afraid of death, it’s hard
to know what exactly the movie
is trying to say about the
subject. Perhaps the
filmmakers just want their
movie to be experienced rather
than interpreted. NORTHFORK is
written by Mark and Michael
Polish, who made TWIN FALLS,
IDAHO where they actually
played Siamese twins. Michael
directs the movie in washed
out colors, giving the
majestic mountains towering
behind the town of NORTHFORK
an Ansel Adams feel. This
quality adds to the sense of
death and loss that permeates
this curious movie, which also
has some winsome, humorous
moments. NORTHFORK also
contains some foul language
and a scene where two of the
government evacuators walk in
on a nearly fully clothed
couple kissing passionately on
a bed. Beyond that, its
cryptic references to angels,
the Bible, and Jesus Christ
provoke a cautious attitude
toward the ultimate worth of
this movie. In fact, NORTHFORK
seems full of puzzling
connotations that evade
rational explanation. This may
confuse people who lack true
theological knowledge. Please
address your comments
to: David Dinerstein & Ruth
Vitale Co-Presidents Paramount
Classics A Division of
Paramount Pictures 5555
Melrose Avenue Chevalier
Building Los Angeles, CA
90038 Phone: (323)
956-2000 Fax: (323)
862-1012 Website:
www.paramountclassics.com

Rating: PG-13

Runtime: 94 minutes

Distributor: Paramount Classics

Director: Michael Polish

Executive Producer:

Producer: Mark and Michael
Polish EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS:
Paul F. Mayersohn, James
Woods, and Damon Martin

Writer: Mark and Michael Polish

Address Comments To:

Content:

(Ro, CC, BB, FR, Ab, LL, S, N, D, M) An apparently Romantic worldview, with some cryptic Christian and biblical symbolism, including cleric prays to God to take dying, suffering child and quotes biblical passage about Noah and the Flood as well as some possible false religious notions about angels and dying and one angel’s name, Cod, sounds like “God,” which may confuse viewers; nine obscenities and two strong profanities; man fires shotgun several times at government agents, image of construction explosion on dirt in order to build dam, and man falls; men walk in on clothed couple passionately kissing; brief partial rear nudity; no alcohol use; smoking; and, father and son argue about excavating mother’s gravesite and man has two wives.

GENRE: Fantasy/Allegory

Ro

CC

BB

FR

Ab

LL

S

N

D

M

Summary:

NORTHFORK is a weird, sometimes pretentious, allegorical fantasy about a Midwest town being evacuated because the government is building a new dam. In addition to some foul language and brief passionate kissing, NORTHFORK’s cryptic references to the Bible and Jesus Christ provoke a cautious attitude toward its ultimate worth.

Review:

NORTHFORK is a weird, sometimes pretentious, allegorical fantasy about a Midwest town being evacuated because the government is building a new dam that will flood the area. The movie has a strong spiritual weight to it, including some biblical and Christian references, but its premise is a bit murky. It’s doubtful that many viewers will want to penetrate the murk.

Set in 1955, the movie stars James Woods as Walter O’Brien, a black-garbed government agent who’s traveling with his son, Willis, to convince the remaining townsfolk to leave before the dam drowns their property. Nick Nolte also stars as Farther Harlan, a kindly but irascible cleric running a small church and an orphanage who’s taking care of Irwin, a dying, bedridden orphan boy abandoned by his adoptive parents. Walter and Willis run into a man who’s built an ark, filling it with two stuffed animals of various species along with his two wives. As Walter and his son try to convince the man and his wives that the ark may not be able to float, Irwin has dreams about encountering four angels in one of the houses. Irwin tries to convince the angels that he is “the unknown angel” for whom they’ve long been searching.

This short synopsis barely scratches the surface of the spiritual references in NORTHFORK. For instance, Walter, Willis, and the other government evacuators consider themselves earthbound angels helping the townspeople to “fly to higher ground.” They even present a pair of white wings as a gift to those people who agree to leave. Walter also carries a Jesus crucifix hanging on the mirror of his big black government car. At one point in the movie, Patsy Cline sings about Jesus in “A Closer Walk with Thee.”

Despite all of the heavy symbolism, which also includes references to non-religious things like the destruction of America’s pioneer spirit by the wheels of progress, NORTHFORK lacks much point to its story. At first, it appears that Irwin is just having a fevered dream about the angels, but this possibility is abrogated when Walter and Willis eventually visit the same house, and Walter has a brief vision of the four angels. Of course, the movie seems to have a lot to do with the subject of death. Except, however, for Father Harlan’s comment near the end that he is no longer afraid of death, it’s hard to know what exactly the movie is trying to say about the subject. Perhaps the filmmakers just want their movie to be experienced rather than interpreted.

NORTHFORK is written by Mark and Michael Polish, who made TWIN FALLS, IDAHO where they actually played Siamese twins. Michael directs the movie in washed out colors, giving the majestic mountains towering behind the town of NORTHFORK an Ansel Adams feel. This quality adds to the sense of death and loss that permeates this curious movie, which also has some winsome, humorous moments.

NORTHFORK also contains some foul language and a scene where two of the government evacuators walk in on a nearly fully clothed couple kissing passionately on a bed. Beyond that, its cryptic references to angels, the Bible, and Jesus Christ provoke a cautious attitude toward the ultimate worth of this movie. In fact, NORTHFORK seems full of puzzling connotations that evade rational explanation. This may confuse people who lack true theological knowledge.

Please address your comments to:

David Dinerstein & Ruth Vitale

Co-Presidents

Paramount Classics

A Division of Paramount Pictures

5555 Melrose Avenue

Chevalier Building

Los Angeles, CA 90038

Phone: (323) 956-2000

Fax: (323) 862-1012

Website: www.paramountclassics.com

SUMMARY: NORTHFORK is a weird, sometimes pretentious, allegorical fantasy about a Midwest town being evacuated because the government is building a new dam. In addition to some foul language and brief passionate kissing, NORTHFORK’s cryptic references to the Bible and Jesus Christ provoke a cautious attitude toward its ultimate worth.

In Brief: