Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Commentary #1 - Michael Mann on Heat

This post marks the first of a projected series recalling little nuggets gleaned from film maker commentaries. In this first instalment, Michael Mann remembers a primary source of inspiration behind his cops n’ robbers epic Heat...
There was a painting that inspired me about this moment and that painting probably got me interested in making this motion picture of Heat longer than anything else, and it was a painting of a table with a .45 on it and a rear shot of a man standing against a background, and contained within it somebody was involved in some life of aggression and action and yet the contrast was in the mental state because here was a moment of inner loneliness. It didn’t dictate something, instead it posed a question – what is this man thinking, what is he imagining...
Michael Mann, Heat (Warners DVD/Blu-Ray, commentary index point 20:12)

Pacific by Alex Colville, 1967


  1. Great idea Wes, and an interesting start. I find I have less and less time to devote to audio commentaries, something I regret, as at their best they can shed new light on a film you think you already know inside out.

    I thought Heat was amazing on it's initial release, but time hasn't been kind to Pacino's performance, De Niro is flawless though.

  2. Thanks Mart. I remember the early days of DVD when you could watch a DVD a second time with commentary but the more discs I picked the less time I had to go back. My solution was to rip the commentary to mp3, so now I get to listen to on the mp3 player or in work - a slightly disemboddied experience but it works. My idea for doing this post was that there was a lot of good stuff on commentaries worth repeating so hopefully I can find some stories to dig out... I still think Heat looks fantastic I must say, but yes it has dated somewhat, which I think was inevitable considering the film has such a profound sense of landscape and architecture. I thought the film looked positively futurisic when I saw it in '95...

  3. Yes, a great idea for a series of posts, Wes and am looking forward to reading your recommendations of good commentaries. I sometimes find commentaries slightly disappointing, often because they seem to be off the top of people's heads and never really get down to the nitty gritty of the creative decisions being made. Also directors you'd really love commentaries from don't/can't do them - Tarkovsky, Kubrick, even Spielberg. So looking forward to more nuggets like this one from Michael Mann - the picture also reminded me of his Manhunter, especially Will Graham's futuristic looking apartment on the beach.

  4. I often think of Manhunter as well Jon when I think of that scene in Heat. Michael Mann must have had that Colville painting in his mind for some years. I'm trying to think if that shot from Heat turns up in LA Takedown but I'm drawing a blank.