John Milius is very much a larger than life character, he’s a filmmaker who honed and sculpted his own image and reputation. His penchant for going against the grain and stirring trouble for troubles sake was only matched by his storytelling ability. This documentary directed by frequent Kevin Smith collaborators Zak Knutson & Joey Figueroa attempts to remind people just how bizarre a character like Milius was, and even more strange was that he, with his right wing politics and uber-macho ideals could become such a force in the more free thinking 70’s american film scene.
As with most documentaries this is a mixture of old footage from interviews with Milius over his career focusing mainly on the work he did between the early 70’s, on films like Dirty Harry, through to the mid-80’s with his work on Apocalypse Now, this is interspersed with various talking heads recanting their memories of either working with the man, or having the more difficult task of being friends with him. This is all set to the backdrop of his political views and confrontational personality.
If you were to take this film on just face value, and only look at the basics, it would be easy to assume that Milius was an egotist with intentionally controversial views who used his talent as a shield for all his unpleasantness. However this would be way off the mark. For all his bravado and yearning for outsider status, its clear to see from interviews with him that he has a warm side, a side that shows he dearly cares for those close to him, as well as a love for his own gift. The constant procession of actors, writers and directors who feature in this documentary is also testament to the man. Steven Speilberg, Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Harrison Ford and Kurt Sutter all speak highly of him as either a friend, peer, or inspiration.
Milius is not a documentary for casual film lovers, its one for those with a strong interest in 70’s American new wave cinema. This isn’t a warts and all exploration of John Milius, its more a film of appreciation of one of cinemas true mavericks.
Milius is available on DVD from 18th of November 2013 from StudioCanal