Many films are reclassified as cult classics but The Crow really is a classic film, which has become known for many different types of reasons.
Released in 1994, the film instantly found an audience. Yes, the untimely (and completely preventable death) of its star helped with finding its niche BUT The Crow is more than just Brandon Lee’s swan song.
Before there were emos, there were dedicated comic book nerds…and then there were kids like me, who didn’t seem to fit into any group.
I was a teenager in 1994, a junior in high school. The Crow became quite important to me, as well as to many of my friends at the time because it spoke to us through all the motifs of death, loss and redemption. The music in the film reached us at a very poignant and introspective time in our lives. Grunge was still the favor of the moment, yet industrial punk (goth punk as it sometimes is called now) was about to take the music industry to a new high. The music of Nine Inch Nails reached through the screen and metaphorically lite a spark in me that never has quite dissolved. Nine Inch Nails for the record is still my favorite band and the music STILL speaks to me even as a 33 year old.
Of course the film also was important to me because it was Brandon Lee’s last film. I had been a fan a few years earlier when I became fascinated by the perception and talent of this special individual, among other things. The Crow was released over a year after his death, this film I had been literally counting the days till I saw it.
The first time I saw the film, I was alone. Although I had promised one of my closest friends, Rachel that I would see it with her, I took advantage that it was released on a school night and the fact my family worked at the local cinema. I had to see it alone. I can still remember how nervous I was sitting in the dark awaiting the film to start (not even the attempt by some pervert to make a pass at me deterred me from the anticipation of seeing this film for the first time). I came prepared too, with a box of Kleenex provided by my dear sweet mother.
In case you haven’t see the film, the premise is simple. On the eve before Halloween (known in Detroit as Devil’s Night) true lovers, Eric Draven (played by Brandon Lee) and Shelly Webster, who were going to be married the following night, are brutally murdered. The gang responsible work for an underground crime syndication. The event unhinged not just the couple who lost their life, but the police detective who was reprimanded when he tried to investigate the motive behind the murders, causing further complications to the plot. The film is partly narrated by a young girl the couple knew called Sarah, who tells the audience through voice overs that when a horrible death occurs, the terrible sadness carried with it prevent souls resting, on occasion a crow (a bird known in many cultures as the death Bird) can resurrect the soul to “put the wrong things right”. Eric becomes one of the undead and the rest they say is history.
The film also contained some amazing film techniques and was visually stunning. The film was later to be one of the first productions to use the new CGI technology after Lee’s death, to create the illusion that he was in scenes he never shot. For that reason alone, it should be appreciated for the kind of vision director Alex Proyas gave us in 1994, through the unique eyes of the anti-hero avenger that was Eric Draven.
Brandon Lee’s performance was undeniably brilliant. This role represented to Lee not just a chance to become one of the undead and have a lot of fun (although to an intellect like his it probably was pretty cool), but it was a change to finally express on screen the kind of depth that he longed to show the word he was capable of. Lee had established himself as an actor, yet couldn’t escape the stereotypes in Hollywood because of being Bruce Lee’s son. Lee was a talented actor, a budding filmmaker who looked at films and the art of them like a producer. He would of made his mark had there not been a series of neglectful decisions by the production team that would ultimately lead to the destruction of his life. Lee was not only a star in the making but he was himself days away from marrying his own true love, Eliza when he was killed.
The Crow over the years has become significant to pop culture and somewhat satirical. There are scores of people who refuse to believe the characters were fiction and the Internet has provide a new audience for this cult classic. Those of us old enough, remember it probably for different reasons. Generations that are still growing now, see it in a different light…as it should be.
For me, The Crow will always be special, even sacred for it reminds me of the time in my own life when I started to realize that life was not a game. This film while fictional, helped me face truth and reality for the first time as an individual. It brought me on a long journey, one that I am towards the end of completing.
Don’t delay if you have never seen this masterpiece. It will change your perception, if not your life.