A Caribbean island in the mid-1800's. Nature has made it a paradise; man has made it a hell. Slaves on vast Portuguese sugar plantations are ready to turn their misery into rebellion - and the British are ready to provide ... more »the spark. They send agent William Walker (Marlon Brando) on a devious three-part mission: trick the slaves into revolt, grab the sugar trade for England...then return the slaves to servitude. Gillo Pontecorvo, the acclaimed director of The Battle of Algiers, explores colonialism and insurrection in the searing epic Burn!. Both visually and narratively stunning, Burn! glows with the fires of Pontecorvo's unique filmmaking genius. Genius is also evident in Brando's complex, intelligent portrayal of a man who is both gentleman and scoundrel, revolutionary and colonialist. And Ennio Morricone's (The Untouchables, The Mission) haunting music memorably underscores the almost overwhelmingly powerful story.« less
"This is a great movie, but if the previous reviewer is correct that it is being released in fullscreen (rather than its original 1.85:1 widescreen aspect ratio), then the DVD cannot be recommended. Worse, "Burn!" is the 112 min. truncated version of the 132 min. original version "Queimada", which was recently restored and shown commercially. There is no excuse for not having both versions. This would be a second reason to avoid this DVD."
Don't buy, wait for Criterion version
a listener | pacific northwest | 11/08/2005
(1 out of 5 stars)
"[star rating above is for DVD only; movie itself = *****] director Gillo Pontecorvo's 'The Battle Of Algiers' has already been released by The Criterion Collection in an exemplary 3-disc edition - as mentioned by another reviewer, 'Queimada' (Burn!) [...] was also previously released as a Criterion laserdisc.
Given that the transfer here is non-anamorphic 1.66:1, and that the film presented is English-language 112-minute version - not the 132-minute Italian-language director's cut which was screened selectively in the U.S. last year - let's all wait for BOTH the English and original Italian versions to be released as a Criterion edition (as they did with Visconti's Il Gattopardo - The Leopard, on 3 discs).
Please send Sony/Columbia/Tristar/MGM (whoever the ^@~& they are this week) a clear message by not purchasing this disc."
We all know this is a good movie, but....
R. Collins | Florida | 05/04/2006
(1 out of 5 stars)
"AVOID AT ALL COSTS! I bought this for a little over $15 at another store and returned it within a week...Horrible transfer (if it were ALPHA video i wouldn't care, but come on...this is a major DVD company we're talking about, SONY!!!!!). Aspect ratio isnt the theatrical format, but rather PAN AND SCAN cropped sides bulls#it. Plus its missing like 20 minutes! I wouldn't recommend this for anyone. Just the thought of this release makes me angry (to the point of inarticulate). AVOID AVOID AVOID! and write a letter to your congressman (ha!)...or perhaps SONY/MGM. This release is inexcusable."
You say you want a revolution...
Doug Anderson | Miami Beach, Florida United States | 12/05/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a historical drama about empires fighting over colonies. It is an especially effective portrayal of the colonial enterprise as it shows quite clearly and unsentimentally large empire nations taking advantage of underdeveloped nations for their own economic advantage. The historical dimension alone is fascinating but the film is also the study of one particular Englishman who is placed on an island colony that is currently in the hands of the Portugese. It is that Englishmans task to undermine Portugese authority and set the stage for the English to aquire the colony for herself. That Englishman is played by a long blonde haired Brando and it is one of the most complex characters he has ever played. The Englishmans expertise is creating revolutions. To create a succesful revolution he must first find the right man to lead it because of course the English cannot be seen to be involved in any way. So there are many fascinating scenes showing Brando the professional creator of revolutions, a mercenary hired by a government that just happens to be his own, going about the business of creating a revolution from scratch. From his first arrival on ship to his final departure after the task has been accomplished you cannot take your eyes off of him and you want to hear every word he says beacause he says some very interesting things which reveal much about the true nature of colonial enterprises and also reveal much about the sort of man who gets involved in such practices. He has a special insight, certainly a unique perspective, and an engaging and peculiar philosophical bent. But the changes he brings about effect him personally in ways he had not foreseen. A great story and character. Joseph Conrad would have recognized and enjoyed this character.
If this had been given the Lawrence of Arabia treatment it would be a world famous film. But perhaps the low budget was a blessing, as less money sometimes means more freedom. I think the film says exactly what it wants to. If you are willing to forgive a few low budget shenanigans you will find the film one of those rare and engaging ones that do not simplify complex issues and thus do not insult the film goers. A film made before it was assumed readers and filmgoers were mutually exclusive groups."
A wrenching history of 18th century Caribbean struggle
Bruce Hobson | United States | 04/23/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Burn! was one of the most discussed films amongst progressive film critics and revolutionary activists of the 1970s and was considered by many one of the most important anti-colonial films made. After "Battle of Algiers" (1966) left the world with a thirst for more of Pontecorvo's brilliance, Burn! carried his art to a higher level. In this panoramic film of rebellion in an 18th century Caribbean setting, the lives of the Black masses and the development of revolutionary anti-colonialism are portrayed directly and honestly. Brando plays with flair as the brilliant opportunist hired by the British military to "provoke" struggle against the Portuguese on the island, and it is clear that he took the role with political relish. Burn! remains one of the most beautiful and wrenching dramatizations of the struggle of an oppressed people in the so-called New World and its original impact is not diminished; anyone interested in fine film and issues of social justice should not miss this last work of Pontecorvo. See it and think about our world today."