A History of Violence (2005)

R | 96 or 98 mins | Drama | 30 September 2005

THIS TITLE IS OUTSIDE THE AFI CATALOG OF FEATURE FILMS (1893-1993)
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Director:

David Cronenberg

Writer:

Josh Olson

Producers:

Chris Bender, JC Spink

Cinematographer:

Peter Suschitzky

Editor:

Ronald Sanders

Production Designer:

Carol Spier

Production Companies:

New Line Cinema , Benderspink
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HISTORY

During the opening credits, there is a sequence lasting several minutes in which "Leland" and "Billy" ruthlessly kill the proprietor, the maid and the maid's little girl in a motel in the Southwest. In the scenes taking place in Philadelphia, protagonist "Tom Stall" is always addressed as "Joey" or "Joey Cusack." "Carl Fogarty" also only addresses him as Joey.
       John Wagner and Vince Locke's graphic novel A History of Violence , which was the basis for the film, was the first in DC Comics' popular Paradox Graphic Mystery series. The second novel in the series, The Road to Perdition , previously was made into the Sam Mendes-directed film of the same title in 2002. The film adaptation of A History of Violence follows the graphic novel's basic story line, but with a number of important differences: Whereas the film offers few details of Tom's early life or the reason why he decided to remake himself, in the graphic novel, one of the book's three chapters, "The Brooklyn Murders," provides a detailed recounting of Tom's early life, as he relates it to "Edie." The film retains the first names of the main characters, but all of the mobsters' surnames have been changed from Italian to various ethnic groups. Tom's surname was changed from McKenna to Stall, and Joey's surname was changed from Muni to Cusack.
       Other differences include the fact that Tom was originally from Brooklyn, not Philadelphia, and that the character of "Richie" was changed from Joey's best friend, Richie Benedetto, in the graphic novel, to his brother in the film. The graphic novel gives a more sympathetic view of the ... More Less

During the opening credits, there is a sequence lasting several minutes in which "Leland" and "Billy" ruthlessly kill the proprietor, the maid and the maid's little girl in a motel in the Southwest. In the scenes taking place in Philadelphia, protagonist "Tom Stall" is always addressed as "Joey" or "Joey Cusack." "Carl Fogarty" also only addresses him as Joey.
       John Wagner and Vince Locke's graphic novel A History of Violence , which was the basis for the film, was the first in DC Comics' popular Paradox Graphic Mystery series. The second novel in the series, The Road to Perdition , previously was made into the Sam Mendes-directed film of the same title in 2002. The film adaptation of A History of Violence follows the graphic novel's basic story line, but with a number of important differences: Whereas the film offers few details of Tom's early life or the reason why he decided to remake himself, in the graphic novel, one of the book's three chapters, "The Brooklyn Murders," provides a detailed recounting of Tom's early life, as he relates it to "Edie." The film retains the first names of the main characters, but all of the mobsters' surnames have been changed from Italian to various ethnic groups. Tom's surname was changed from McKenna to Stall, and Joey's surname was changed from Muni to Cusack.
       Other differences include the fact that Tom was originally from Brooklyn, not Philadelphia, and that the character of "Richie" was changed from Joey's best friend, Richie Benedetto, in the graphic novel, to his brother in the film. The graphic novel gives a more sympathetic view of the young Joey, who was only fourteen when he left Brooklyn. Near the end of the graphic novel, Richie, who has been held prisoner by a mob boss and brutally tortured for more than twenty years, pleads with his childhood friend to kill him, which he reluctantly does.
       A plot point from the book which is not used in the film is that, in the graphic novel, Tom is missing a little finger, and when "John Torrino" (called Carl Fogarty in the film) first visits Tom's diner, he is wearing a vial containing the missing digit. This point is an important difference because, in the graphic novel, police identify Tom as Joey by testing his DNA against the finger after Torrino (Fogarty) dies. Two other major differences exist between the graphic novel and the film. The first is that, while in the film Edie turns on Tom and it is unclear at the end of the film if their relationship will ever recover, in the graphic novel, she does not waver in her feelings. Finally, in the graphic novel, it is Edie, not their son "Buzz" (called "Jack " in the film) who saves Tom's life by killing Torrino.
       As noted in reviews and news items, A History of Violence was Canadian director David Cronenberg's largest budgeted film to date, costing $30,000,000 to produce. The film marked the eleventh collaboration between Cronenberg and composer Howard Shore, a fellow Canadian. Costume designer Denise Cronenberg, who is the director's sister, previously has worked on several of David Cronenberg's films.
       Although most sources, including the film's program at the Toronto Film Festival, stated that it was a U.S. production, the film was shot at the Toronto Film Studios and at other locations in Ontario, Canada. The township of Millbrook, Ontario was the location site of the film's Millbrook, IN. As noted in the onscreen acknowledgments, the film was also shot in the Ontario townships of Scugog, King City, New Tecumseth and Tottenham, as well as the Everton Conservation area outside Toronto. Onscreen acknowledgments were also given to SAAN Stores Lts. and St. John's Rehab Hospital, where various scenes were shot.
       As noted in a DV article, as part of the film's exploitation, cable television channel CourtTV, in partnership with New Line Cinema, broadcast a two-hour block of programming tied to one of the themes of the film, that of someone living a double life. The programming was part of CourtTV's recently inaugurated "Red Carpet Treatment" shows highlighting new films that were topically connected to the channel's law and order theme.
       Reviews were almost universally laudatory of the film, with most praising the acting of Viggo Mortensen as Tom and Maria Bello as Edie, in particular. Many reviews pointed out the power of Cronenberg's theme of underlying violence set against a rural American background, with some noting that, for a film with an underlying theme of violence and brutality, there were relatively few short scenes that graphically portrayed violent acts. Although some critics suggested that the film was an indictment of America and its violent history, in interviews, Cronenberg denied that the picture specifically was an indictment of the U.S. or its policies. Several reviews compared the film to classic American Westerns, particularly The Gunfighter (see above), the 1950 Twentieth Century-Fox film directed by Henry King and starring Gregory Peck as a former gunfighter who is trying to escape his violent past life.
       In addition to being selected as one of AFI's ten Movies of the Year, A History of Violence received two Academy Award nominations, for Josh Olson for Best Adapted Screenplay and William Hurt for Best Supporting Actor. The film also received two Golden Globe nominations, for Best Picture--Drama and for Best Actress--Drama (Bello). Additionally, Olson was nominated for a Writers Guild Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, and he and authors Wagner and Locke were nominated for a USC Scripter award. Hurt also received an L.A. Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actor. According to an 11 Dec 2005 LAT news item, the film was also a "close runner-up" to the L.A. Film Critics' Best Picture winner Brokeback Mountain (see above). More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
12 Sep 2002
p. 5, 21.
Daily Variety
18 May 2005
p. 12.
Daily Variety
24 Aug 2005
p. 4.
Entertainment Weekly
7 Oct 2005
p. 48.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Mar 2003
p. 4, 38.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Feb 2004
p. 3, 83.
Hollywood Reporter
5-11 Oct 2004
p. 34.
LAWeekly
16 Sep 2005
p. 106, 108.
Los Angeles Times
23 Sep 2005.
---
Los Angeles Times
11 Dec 2005.
---
New Republic
17 Oct 2005
pp. 17-18.
New York Times
23 Sep 2005.
---
Rolling Stone
6 Oct 2005
p. 163.
Sight and Sound
Oct 2005
pp. 14-16, 64.
The Nation
24 Oct 2005.
---
Time
26 Sep 2005.
---
Variety
23--29 May 2005.
---
Village Voice
21-27 Sep 2005
p. 34, 37.
WSJ
22 Sep 2005.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
A Benderspink Production; A David Cronenberg Film
A Benderspink Production; A film by David Cronenberg
A film by David Cronenberg
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
3d asst dir
Trainee asst dir
PRODUCERS
Prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
Co-prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
"A" cam op
Steadicam and "B" cam op
"A" cam 1st asst
"A" cam 2d asst
Cam loader
Still photog
Video asst
Video playback
Chief lighting tech
Best boy elec
Best boy rigging elec
Generator op
Key grip
Best boy grip
Dolly grip
Rigging grip
Best boy rigging grip
Grip and elec equipment furnished by
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Art dept coord
1st asst art dir
2d asst art dir
Art dept apprentice
FILM EDITORS
1st asst Avid ed
1st asst film ed
2d asst film ed
Negative cutter
SET DECORATORS
Set des
Set des
Asst set dec
Lead dresser
Lead dresser
Set dresser
On set dresser
Prop master
Asst prop master
Prop buyer
Const coord
Head carpenter
Asst head carpenter
2d asst head carpenter
On set carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Key scenic painter
Lead painter
Asst lead painter
Scenic assist
On set painter
Painter
Painter
Painter
Painter
Key laborer
Const laborer
Const laborer
Key greensman
Lead greensman
On set greens
COSTUMES
Set cost supv
Set cost
Cost truck supv
MUSIC
Exec in charge of mus for New Line
Mus bus affairs exec
Score orch & cond
Score ed
Score ed
Mus contractor
Mus supv
HotHouse Music
Score rec
Score mixed by
Mus preparation
Auricle op
Score pre-prod at
Mus prod mgr
Mus prod coord
Mus copyist
Picture analysis
Electronic mus programming
Tech eng
SOUND
Sd mixer
Boom op
Boom op
Supv sd ed
Supv sd ed
1st asst sd ed
1st asst sd ed
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Sd eff ed
Dial ed
Foley artist
Foley artist
Foley rec mixer
Foley rec asst
ADR mixer
ADR mixer
ADR mixer
ADR rec
ADR rec at
Re-rec
Re-rec asst
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff supv
Spec eff rigging foreman
Spec eff set forman
Spec eff tech
Exec in charge of visual eff
Visual eff
Visual eff supv, Mr. X Inc.
Visual eff supv, Mr. X Inc.
Visual eff prod mgr, Mr. X Inc.
Visual eff prod, Mr. X Inc.
3D anim
3D anim
Visual eff compositor
Visual eff compositor
Visual eff compositor
Compositing asst
Operations mgr, Mr. X Inc.
Tape op, Mr. X Inc.
Titles & opt des
Digital intermediate
Digital intermediate col timer
Digital intermediate supv
Digital intermediate ed
MAKEUP
Makeup supv
Key makeup artist
Asst makeup artist
Prosthetic lab tech
Key hairstylist
Asst hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
ADR voice casting
U.S. casting
Casting asst
Casting asst
Extras casting
Extras casting coord
Unit prod mgr
Exec in charge of prod
Prod exec
Exec in charge of finance
Exec in charge of post prod
Post-prod supv
Post-prod supv
Prod accountant
1st asst accountant, US
1st asst accountant
2d asst accountant
Payroll acountant
Asst accountant trainee
Const auditor
Post-prod accountant
Supv prod coord
Prod coord
Post-prod coord
Asst prod coord
Prod secy
Prod office asst
Prod office asst
Scr supv
Loc mgr
Asst loc mgr
Asst loc mgr
Asst loc mgr
Loc prod asst
Loc prod asst
Prod controller
Exec in charge of film investment
Prod resources
Prod resources
Prod attorney
Contract admin
Asst to Mr. Cronenberg
Asst to Mr. Bender
Asst to Mr. Greene
Unit pub
Set medic
Gun wrangler
Studio teacher
Dial coach
Catering
Craft service
Craft service asst
Craft service asst
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Transportation capt
Helicopter pilot
Driver for Mr. Mortensen
Driver for Ms. Bello
Driver for Mr. Harris & Mr. Hurt
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Picture vehicle capt
Transport office admin
Mus clearances
Rights & clearances
Rights & clearances
Entertainment Clearances, Inc.
Rights & clearances
Entertainment Clearances, Inc.
Risk management
Risk management
Prod safety
Preview tech supv
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stand-in
Stand-in
Stand-in
COLOR PERSONNEL
Lab col timer
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the graphic novel A History of Violence , written by John Wagner, art by Vince Locke (New York, 1997).
SONGS
"Life of a Fool," written by Paul Burch, performed by Paul Burch, courtesy of Bloodshot Records
"Club Hoppin'," written by Michael Foster and Darrell "Digga" Branch, performed by Blinky Blink, courtesy of Spirit Music Group.
DETAILS
Release Date:
30 September 2005
Premiere Information:
World premiere at the Cannes Film Festival: 16 May 2005
Toronto Film Festival opening: 10 September 2005
Los Angeles and New York openings: 23 September 2005
Production Date:
13 September--late December 2004 at Toronto Film Studios, Toronto
Copyright Claimants:
Media 1! Filmproduktion München GmbH & Co. KG New Line Productions, Inc.
Copyright Dates:
1 December 2005 1 December 2005
Copyright Numbers:
PA0001303939 PA0001303939
Physical Properties:
Sound
SDDS Sony Dynamic Digital Sound; Dolby Digital; dts in selected theatres
Color
Deluxe
Lenses/Prints
Deluxe, released on FUJI; camera & lenses by Panavision
Duration(in mins):
96 or 98
MPAA Rating:
R
Countries:
Canada, United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
41604
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In the small town of Millbank, Indiana, Tom Stall runs the local diner, while his wife Edie runs a small law practice and rears their two children, teenager Jack and pre-schooler Sarah. Although Jack struggles with teenage angst and a bullying classmate, the family is happy with their uneventful lives, and Tom considers himself a lucky man. One quiet Saturday night, ruthless spree killers Leland and Billy drive into town and enter the diner. The self-effacing Tom allows himself to be bullied into keeping the diner open past closing time, then tells Leland to take what he wants from the till, but when Leland tells Billy to "start" with the waitress, Tom breaks the glass coffee pot against Leland's face, and in the melee that follows, grabs Leland's semi-automatic weapon, then quickly kills him and Billy, despite being wounded in the foot by Leland's knife. When Tom is released from the hospital, he does not like being labeled a hero by the television news programs, which laud him for saving the people in the diner from two spree killers, and consequently shuns a television reporter. A short time later, when Tom returns to the diner, which is crowded with customers and well-wishers, three thuggish-looking men in suits arrive, led by Carl Fogarty, who repeatedly addresses Tom as "Joey" and in a threatening manner, implies that Tom knows who he is because they knew each other years ago in Philadelphia. Edie, who is in the diner at the time, is frightened of the men and calls town sheriff Sam Carney, even though Tom wants to forget about the incident after the men leave. Later, ... +


In the small town of Millbank, Indiana, Tom Stall runs the local diner, while his wife Edie runs a small law practice and rears their two children, teenager Jack and pre-schooler Sarah. Although Jack struggles with teenage angst and a bullying classmate, the family is happy with their uneventful lives, and Tom considers himself a lucky man. One quiet Saturday night, ruthless spree killers Leland and Billy drive into town and enter the diner. The self-effacing Tom allows himself to be bullied into keeping the diner open past closing time, then tells Leland to take what he wants from the till, but when Leland tells Billy to "start" with the waitress, Tom breaks the glass coffee pot against Leland's face, and in the melee that follows, grabs Leland's semi-automatic weapon, then quickly kills him and Billy, despite being wounded in the foot by Leland's knife. When Tom is released from the hospital, he does not like being labeled a hero by the television news programs, which laud him for saving the people in the diner from two spree killers, and consequently shuns a television reporter. A short time later, when Tom returns to the diner, which is crowded with customers and well-wishers, three thuggish-looking men in suits arrive, led by Carl Fogarty, who repeatedly addresses Tom as "Joey" and in a threatening manner, implies that Tom knows who he is because they knew each other years ago in Philadelphia. Edie, who is in the diner at the time, is frightened of the men and calls town sheriff Sam Carney, even though Tom wants to forget about the incident after the men leave. Later, Sam stops Fogarty's Town Car and tells him to leave Millbank, which he says is a nice town that looks after its own, then goes to Tom and Edie's house, where he tells them that Fogarty is a known mob killer, as are his two henchmen. Sam then hesitantly asks Tom if he is in the witness protection program, but Tom denies this and says he does not know the men. Early the next morning, while Tom is in the diner, he sees the Town Car again and, thinking that it is driving toward his house, phones Edie and frantically tells her to grab their shotgun because the men are coming to their house. Despite his wounded foot, Tom runs home, then realizes that he was mistaken about the car. Edie, and especially Jack, are worried about what is happening, but Tom dismisses their concerns. That afternoon, when Edie takes Sarah to buy shoes in the local mall, she panics when Sarah briefly disappears, and is startled to see Fogarty sitting on a bench looking at the child. Fogarty, whose face is badly scarred and missing an eye, says that Joey Cusack did that to him and he wants to speak with Joey. Meanwhile, at his high school, Jack is confronted by fellow student Bobby and two of Bobby's friends, but instead of making a joke of Bobby's taunts, as he had done in the past, Jack explodes in violence and badly beats Bobby. Later, Tom rebukes Jack for his actions, saying that their family does not settle things with violence, but Jack sarcastically responds that, instead, their family kills people. Tom angrily slaps Jack, causing the boy to run off. A short time later, Fogarty and his henchmen show up at the house, with Jack in the backseat of the Town Car. Fogarty orders Tom to come with him or he will start to hurt Jack. Tom tells Edie to get into the house with Sarah as he gradually walks closer to Fogarty, still denying that he is Joey. When one of the thugs reaches for Tom, he suddenly disables the man with martial arts, grabs his gun, then kills another man. Fogarty then wounds Tom, but as Fogarty moves closer to him to fire the fatal shot, Tom whispers "I should have killed you in Philly." Just then, Fogarty is killed by a shotgun blast fired by Jack. That night, when Edie visits Tom in the hospital, she angrily demands that he tell her if he really is Joey. When he does not deny it, she vomits, then refuses to listen to his pleas that he spent three years ridding himself of Joey and was reborn when he met her. She runs away from him, and when Tom returns home from the hospital, he finds that his things have been moved out of their room. Sam comes to the house to say that "things" just do not add up, but when Edie comes home, she calmly assures Sam that Tom is who he says he is, then starts to cry as Tom comforts her. After Sam leaves, Tom continues to hold Edie, but she pushes him away and, rushing up the stairs, screams "Joey" at him. In the stairway, they strike each other, then have rough sex, but afterward, instead of letting Tom kiss her, she pushes him away. That night, while Tom is sleeping on the couch, he is awakened by a phone call from his brother Richie, now a prominent mob boss in Philadelphia. He agrees to Richie's request to meet with him, then drives to Philadelphia, where one of Richie's henchmen takes Tom to Richie's suburban mansion. At first Richie kisses and warmly embraces his younger brother, but in his study, Richie tells Tom that his impetuousness has cost him a lot over the years and he must pay the price. While they talk, Richie's henchman grabs Tom from behind, trying to strangle him with a wire, but Tom puts his hand through the loop and overcomes him, then kills two other henchmen, first striking them with killing blows, then shooting them with the gun he picks up. After Tom runs out of the study, another henchman arrives, and Richie starts to leave the house through the open front door. Tom, however, has not left the house, and catching Richie and his henchman unaware, kills them. Early in the morning, Tom throws his weapon into a pond on Richie's property and ponders his fate. Later, he returns to his home as Edie, Sarah and Jack are eating dinner. After a few moments, Sarah silently sets a place at the table for her father and Jack passes the roast to him as Edie looks at Tom and he expectantly looks toward her. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award
The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.