As the films of Hugh Hudson get more ambitious, they become duller and more long-winded, too. In this sense, ``Revolution'' is the culmination of his career to date. I take no pleasure in trouncing this self-proclaimed ``American epic,'' which features a reverently photographed Al Pacino acting his head off in various Revolutionary War settings. For one thing, Hudson means well and deserves a nod of approval for trying to keep respectable ``Masterpiece Theatre''-type fare alive on the wide screen. For another, I'm still smarting from the mail I got after calling his ``Chariots of Fire'' only a mild success. Many of my readers found it sublime and never forgave
me for being insufficiently bowled over by it.
Still, my skepticism about Hudson's approach grew after seeing ``Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes,'' which was pretentious from the title on. And the new ``Revolution'' only deepens my dismay. Rarely has a film poured so much energy into generating fiery emotions, yet remained so icy cold in its effect.
Exhibit A is a harrowing scene involving Tom Dobb, the hero, and Ned, his young son. Ned has been beaten and crippled by a sadistic British officer (Donald Sutherland) after being shanghaied into service. Upon rescuing the boy, Tom brings him to some Indian friends, who perform a kind of ceremonial surgery on his feet. The scene is filmed mostly in one shot of unusual length, focusing on the faces of the agonized boy and his anguished dad. Ned struggles to bear up to his ordeal while Tom tries desperate ly to soothe and comfort the son he dearly loves.