I could attempt to hypothesize on the mysteries and riddles contained in Nicolas Roeg’s half forgotten 1983 film Eureka in much detail. But I fear somehow that I would fail to match the fascinating insight provided by the director himself in an interview at the time of the film’s muted release, conducted with Film Comment magazine which you can read here.
Eureka’s storyline weaves elements of Citizen Kane, Greed and the real life case of Sir Harry Oakes into a complex, histrionic tale that traverses earthly, mystical and supernatural realms; often confusing, incoherent even but often heady and spellbinding in the hands of Roeg.
The great Gene Hackman stars as Jack Mc Cann, a Klondike prospector seeking Gold in the Yukon flats in the 1920’s. He strikes it rich and twenty years later has relocated to the Bahamas living a life of secluded luxury with his beautiful daughter Tracy (Theresa Russell). Mc Cann is a guarded, difficult and paranoid man, weary of the opportunistic sharks who now surround him, including his son-in-law of portrayed Rutger Hauer at his most Euro suave and a couple of shady real estate developers played by the once in a lifetime pairing of Joe Pesci and Mickey Rourke.
So far, so hum right? That basic plot is the stuff of basic melodrama but where Roeg and screenwriter Paul Mayersberg take it is another matter entirely. The film of course deals with capital letter themes of success, greed, love, sex, jealousy, fate, metaphysics etc in its own barmy fashion and doesn’t entirely work. There are several dull stretches amidst the cinematic fireworks and in particular an unusually protracted and protractedly unusual courtroom sequence unfolds in the third act which almost stalls the film completely but even that sequence develops unexpectedly.
in all, this is a unique and bold endeavour with moments of unique power and violent, ecstatic imagery that often feels like it’s being born in front of your very eyes;a wondrous act of visual alchemy with the power and strength of the images seemingly conjured from the deepest regions of both our subconscious and the cosmos.