WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
MASK, an inspirational drama directed by Peter Bogdanovich and starring Cher, Eric Stoltz and Sam Elliott, is the extraordinary film based on the real-life story of 16-year old Rocky Dennis, a young man afflicted with a rare, disfiguring disease and the awesome courage he displays. This Director’s Cut DVD has some additional footage and also, as a special bonus, the original Bruce Springsteen soundtrack, which was created for the film but never released in theaters. This movie was originally released in 1985.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
MASK is a film that is not only entertaining, but it teaches us a valuable life lesson as well. It’s easy to be inspired by Rocky’s life story. Another inspirational film is ROCKY, same name. The film concentrates on that threshold-of-adulthood period familiar to all teenagers who are sharing common experiences of youth (love, hassles with mom, a desire to travel) with the special burdens endured by the main character. Stoltz, absolutely unrecognizable under lots of prosthetic makeup, is very good as Rocky Dennis, as are Cher (as Rocky's biker babe mother Rusty) and Sam Elliott who plays Gar, Rusty’s lover and Rocky's father figure. Gar is the ultimate macho, hunky biker with fabulous hair, a wicked moustache and a heart of gold. I will never forget his T-shirt “Moustache Rides” which is a classic in this film. They, as well as Laura Dern, (in her first big role) who plays Rocky’s blind girlfriend Diana, are outstanding in their respective roles. The acting is top notch here. Cher outshines herself, as do all the actors. The chemistry between Rusty and Gar is hot. It seems as though the actors were guided by the spirit of Rocky, and it shows, as here, they are all at their best.
One of my most beloved characters in the film is Bulldozer aka Doze, played amazingly by Dennis Burkley. He is a gentle teddy bear who loves Rocky so much, and always watches over him. It is so touching to see how many people love Rocky and support him. Bikers are nice people too. Finally, other than the Springsteen music, this film has a great soundtrack with hits by the Beatles, Little Richard, Steppenwolf and Lynyrd Skynyrd among others. Too bad the Bob Seger songs were taken out of the DVD version. The song “Ripple” by the Grateful Dead is playing in the final crucial scene of the film, very fitting. I liked the two additional scenes here, one is a song and dance number by Rocky and his mom, and the other is a biker funeral. An extra seven minutes in all. Great actors, great story, rock music, bikers, awe-inspiring and a real wonderful tear jerker.
Additional footage including new Bruce Springsteen music: Contains several of his top hits, such as "Badlands," "Thunder Road" and "Born in the USA”. Songs by Bob Seger were substituted in place of those by Bruce Springsteen shortly before the film's release after a failure to reach agreement with Springsteen’s people. A good idea would have been to include the option of listening to the Bruce Springsteen score or the Bob Seger score. I'm used to hearing the Bob Seger songs and I don't wanna hear the Bruce Springsteen version since I dislike his music a lot. Also, I remember “Katmandu” by Bob Seger in the film and it was a perfect song for Rocky since he was planning a road trip and the song’s lyrics were about “..if I ever get outta here…”. Loved that song and that is why I am keeping my VHS copy, at least I can listen to my preferred version this way.
Mask Revealed: A conversation with director Peter Bogdanovich: Around 22 minutes long, this interview is quite interesting and informative as we find out some cool facts, such as where the interest for Mask came from. The director used to date Dorothy Stratten (famous Playboy model from Canada who was murdered by her psycho boyfriend. The movie “Star 80” is based on her life) and it was Stratten who led him down the path to this film, which is the first film he made four years after she died. She was influenced after seeing THE ELEPHANT MAN on stage. That’s cool, this film did make me think of THE ELEPHANT MAN so there you go. Other cool facts we discover are that this film won an Oscar for Best Make-Up in the first year this category existed. Bogdanovich also discusses why he picked Cher and Eric Stoltz for their roles here, and Laura Dern too. The Springsteen soundtrack issue as well as the two additional scenes on the DVD are talked about too.
Feature commentary with Director Peter Bogdanovich: Bogdanovich is a good narrator, his speech is evenly paced and easily understandable. Some of the stuff we hear in the commentary we already heard in the previous interview, nevertheless, the commentary is a good one worth checking out.
This wonderfully moving true story of Rocky Dennis comes highly recommended particularly if you like similarly themed films such as POWDER, THE ELEPHANT MAN or THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE-DAME, movies in which the character’s inside is more beautiful than his outside and that ultimately teach us that beauty radiates from within. This film might make you feel guilty over your own self-pitying ways because the courage that Rocky displays teaches us a valuable lesson, that we should be grateful for what we have and live every day to its fullest. The extra features are fun and the only thing I would have wished for is that we had the option of picking our own soundtrack, as I mentioned earlier. An amazing film, warm-hearted and sweet with a great message and filled with fantastic acting, an engaging story and a superb soundtrack (except Springsteen).