Is This ‘Hurricane’ a Twist of Facts?
Rubin Carter: Denzel Washington
Lesra: Vicellous Reon Shannon
Lisa: Deborah Kara Unger
Sam: Liev Schreiber
Terry: John Hannah
Della Pesca: Dan Hedaya
“The Hurricane” is set in Patterson, New Jersey, the hometown of middleweight champion boxer, Rubin Carter. The film tells the triumphant story of Rubin Carter, played by Denzel Washington, who is framed for a triple murder. Rubin Carter loses 19 years of his life in prison because of racism and police corruption.
The film starts with the ‘Hurricane’ contending in the boxing ring, and proceeds to flash between Carter’s childhood and his current misfortunes with Vincent Della Pesca, played by Dan Hedaya. This villainous cop essentially makes it his lifelong business to harm Carter. Although many of the scenes consist of Carter in prison, I feel that the climax of the movie is when the young boy, Lesra, played by Vicellous Reon Shannon, reluctantly goes to a used-book store. Lesra is headed there with one of his educators by the name of Sam, played by Liev Schreiber, because Lesra is required to pick out a book to read for his assignment. I feel this is the climax because soon after he purchases his first book, the relationship between Carter and Lesra begins. The picture on the cover is what first attracts Lesra to the book, but it is Carter’s passionate words that keep Lesra attached to it. The book holds so much mystery, emotion, and feeling that it makes the boy determined to meet the ‘Hurricane,’ and support him in his fight for freedom.
Before meeting the young boy, Carter touches the audience and gathers strength in the scene where he refuses to wear prison clothing, and eventually learns to separate himself mentally and emotionally from his surroundings. He teaches himself to ignore, and to forget the life outside the walls of his prison cell. In doing so, Carter tries to no longer “need” what he can not obtain, his freedom. It is that desire to be secluded from the outside world, that makes the relationship between him and Lesra so touching. The feeling in the letters passed between the two is so powerful that I couldn’t help but hold on to every word, constantly wondering what was going to happen next. The letters and meetings with Lesra, Lisa, Sam, and Terry start to concern the angry and pride filled Carter. Sam, Lisa, and Terry are the Canadians that are educating Lesra. Lesra first asks them to come and meet Rubin Carter with him, but they are touched by Carter’s testimony, and become determined to help set Carter free. It is when Carter says, “Do not write me. Do not visit me. Find it in your hearts to not weaken me with your love,” where I truly understand the only thing keeping Carter alive is separating his mind from his body.
Denzel Washington’s performance as Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter is one of his best. His performance is passionate, moving, and very powerful. I found myself holding on to his every move, trying to analyze what he is saying is hopes of understanding how he feels. The importance of the character in a film has two meanings. “Someone who appears in a play” and “the intellectual, emotional, and moral qualities that add up to a personality.” When dramatic actors, like Denzel Washington speak, the purpose is to reveal themselves. Denzel does just that as Rubin Carter. Without the dialogue “The Hurricane” wouldn’t survive. Dialogue “is a form of action.” The dialogue between the characters in “The Hurricane” advances the plot and heightens the conflict. Word exchanged by Vincent Della Pesca and the Canadians is a good example of this. Della Pesca finds out the Canadians have been investigating the Carter case and he warns them that the case is none of their business, and if they knew any better then they would walk away.
Denzel Washington’s performance, especially in the second and third acts kept me absorbed in his actions. I wasn’t affected by the sadness of what ‘Hurricane’ Carter was experiencing, but instead I was touched by the goodness, self-control, and determination he displayed. I found myself blinking back tears at the fact that he lost 19 years of his life in prison