Director Jim Jarmusch followed up his brilliant breakout Stranger Than Paradise with another, equally beloved portrait of loners and misfits in America. When fate lands three hapless men—an unemployed disc jockey (Short Cuts’ Tom Waits), a small-time pimp (Fishing with John’s John Lurie), and a strong-willed Italian tourist (Life Is Beautiful’s Roberto Benigni)—in a Louisiana prison, a singular adventure begins. Described by Jarmusch as a “neo-Beat noir comedy,” Down by Law is part nightmare and part fairy tale, featuring sterling performances and crisp black-and-white photography by esteemed cinematographer Robby MÃ¼ller (Paris, Texas).
DIRECTOR-APPROVED BLU-RAY SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES • High-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack • Thoughts and reflections on the making of the film from director Jim Jarmusch in 2002 • Interview with director of photography Robby MÃ¼ller from 2002 • Footage from the 1986 Cannes Film Festival, including a press conference featuring Jarmusch and actors John Lurie, Roberto Benigni, and Nicoletta Braschi, and an interview with Lurie, with commentary • Sixteen outtakes • Music video for Tom Waits’s cover of Cole Porter’s “It’s All Right with Me,” directed by Jarmusch • Q&A with Jarmusch in which he responds to fans’ questions • Recordings of phone conversations between Jarmusch and Waits, Benigni, and Lurie • Production Polaroids and location stills • Isolated music track • Optional French dub track, featuring Benigni • Trailer • PLUS: An essay by critic Luc Sante
After creating one of the breakthrough movies of the American independent cinema, Stranger than Paradise
, Jim Jarmusch stayed right in the same minimalist, oddball, black-and-white groove. Down by Law
takes place in Louisiana, where two losers (musicians Tom Waits and John Lurie) find themselves stuck in a jail cell together. One day they are joined by a boisterous Italian (Roberto Benigni), and the chemistry changes--suddenly an escape attempt is on the horizon. Conventional drama is not Jarmusch's intention; one of the emotional high points of this movie is the three guys marching around their prison cell shouting, "I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!" Yet the deadpan style creates its own humorous mood, underscored by melancholy (also underscored by the music of Lurie and the gravel-voiced songs of Waits). This was the first American film for Roberto Benigni, the Italian comedian (Life Is Beautiful
), and he lights it up with his effervescent clowning. Jarmusch has said that Down by Law
forms a loose trilogy with Stranger than Paradise
and the subsequent Mystery Train
, a triptych of disaffected, drifting life in the United States. Few filmmakers have ever surveyed ennui so entertainingly. --Robert Horton
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.