In the Eye of 'The Hurricane': Off Screen, Denzel Washington Is Grounded. as Boxer Rubin Carter, He's a Force of Nature

Newsweek, January 10, 2000 | Go to article overview

In the Eye of 'The Hurricane': Off Screen, Denzel Washington Is Grounded. as Boxer Rubin Carter, He's a Force of Nature


Denzel Washington may make almost $10 million a movie, but he's not afraid to take a punch. When he took on the role of Rubin (Hurricane) Carter--the real-life middleweight contender imprisoned for 19 years for a murder he didn't commit--Washington trained as if he'd been given a shot at the title. He lost 44 pounds, and spent day after day taking punches: "I put my heart and soul into it. We were doing a lot of the full-body boxing, which I loved, but I began getting headaches and memory loss--that was a problem. It's a tough sport. I knew that already, because I know [Tyson] and Ali. But I can't give it up. It's addictive."

Washington gives a heavyweight performance in Norman Jewison's powerful movie "The Hurricane." Jewison, who also directed Washington in his breakthrough role in "A Soldier's Story," claims that by the end of filming he couldn't tell the actor from Carter himself: "He had his walk, the way he spoke, the way he carried his body. This role is probably his best work." Jewison is biased, but he may be right. Washington has been extraordinary before--as Stephen Biko in "Cry Freedom," as Malcolm X in Spike Lee's epic and as the '40s sleuth in "Devil in a Blue Dress." But playing Carter stretches him in new ways. The hero of Jewison's movie--whom Bob Dylan commemorated in his anthem "Hurricane"--is a man who kept reinventing himself to survive. In trouble with the law since childhood, Carter was a soldier and then, because of his devastating punch, a celebrity with a wife, a daughter and a shot at the title. All that ended in 1966 when he and another innocent man were framed for killing three people in a Paterson, N.J., bar.

In "The Hurricane," Carter struggles to stay sane in prison, as rage and despair battle for the upper hand. Knowing that hope makes him vulnerable, he turns inward--refusing even to see his wife and daughter. Washington perfectly captures the steeliness of Carter's will. It's a moving, fiercely compacted performance that invites us to marvel at the resilience of the spirit. "The Hurricane" has a lot of ground to cover, and it jumps back and forward in time, not always gracefully. Carter's saga alternates with the story of Lesra Martin (the excellent Vicellous Reon Shannon), a black teenager who reads the boxer's jailhouse autobiography, then helps him overturn his conviction. Lesra has been adopted by three white Canadian idealists who will ultimately devote their lives to freeing Carter. Who on earth are these people? The truth is they're composite figures boiled down from the nine commune members who worked for Carter's release--though not quite in the Hardy Boy manner the movie presents.

The screenplay takes a more dubious liberty by inventing a racist and corrupt New Jersey detective (played by Dan Hedaya) with a lifelong vendetta against our hero. This melodramatic device succeeds in getting the blood boiling--audiences like their villains unregenerate--but by putting the onus on one evil white man, it diminishes the systemic racism that kept Carter behind bars. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

In the Eye of 'The Hurricane': Off Screen, Denzel Washington Is Grounded. as Boxer Rubin Carter, He's a Force of Nature
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.