PARAMOUNT CHANNEL – SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 18 AT 8:40 P.M. – FILM
In Garrison, a New Jersey dormitory called “Copland” because of the number of police officers who live there, order is in good hands. Except that the law in force has nothing to do with that mentioned in the civil code. Half-deaf, obese, crude and hardly intelligent local Sheriff (Sylvester Stallone) Freddy Heflin is content to regulate traffic and delegates the rest of his power to Ray Donlan (Harvey Keitel), a corrupt officer who transformed Garrison in a free town; the law of silence in exchange for advantageous comfort granted to each of the cops in the community.
The way in which Heflin will take his fate of mediocre in hand to yield to the injunctions of Moe Tilden (Robert De Niro), a police inspector of the police force, is characteristic of the model of the sheriff instituted by the western in the 1950s, disgusted by the feeling of the imperfection of human justice and won by the temptation of personal or family security.
The whole process of the film consists in making the enclave of “Copland” disappear in order to integrate it on the other side of the Hudson, in erasing the idea of territory in order to integrate it into a country. This approach, of a perfect classicism, made of Copland something other than a work of good quality or a simple exercise in style.
In 1997, James Mangold filmed Stallone in his 50s, slow and weighed down, uncomfortable in his fat body, taking refuge in the arms of Annabella Sciorra, his passing mistress, like a clumsy kid who came to seek a little eroticism and sleep. There is Victor Mature (that of The Infernal Pursuit, 1946, film by John Ford, whose structure James Mangold takes over in Copland) at Stallone.
Like him, he has the ability to display immense distress at a glance, to drag a wasted life like a burden, a reflection of an acting career that was also a failure.
Because that’s what it’s all about in Copland : a man who had everything going for him and who, following a banal accident, as a kid, finds himself with one less ear and a ruined existence. Freddy Heflin is the replica of Sheriff Tucker, played by Henry Fonda in Blood in the desert (1957), by Anthony Mann, where he played a man letting go of his star and who, with all the determination of the Mannian hero, found the strength to do his job again. The ghost Stallone, the actor and the character he plays, eventually returns to life. And there is something moving about his resurrection. Copland is the equivalent of a LP record recorded in mono sound. We preserve it, we take care of it, and we bring it the attention that we owe to an art that we thought had disappeared.
Copland, by James Mangold. With Sylvester Stallone, Robert De Niro, Harvey Keitel (EU, 1997, 125 min).