A man's personality is dramatically changed after surviving a major airline crash.
Release Year: 1993
Rating: 7.1/10 (11,322 voted)
Stars: Jeff Bridges, Isabella Rossellini, Rosie Perez
After a terrible air disaster, survivor Max Klein emerges a changed person. Unable to connect to his former life or to wife Laura, he feels godlike and invulnerable. When psychologist Bill Perlman is unable to help Max, he has Max meet another survivor, Carla Rodrigo, who is racked with grief and guilt since her baby died in the crash which she and Max survived.
Writers: Rafael Yglesias, Rafael Yglesias
Dr. Bill Perlman
Benicio Del Toro
John de Lancie
(as John De Lancie)
Robin Pearson Rose
Some people are afraid of nothing.
Release Date: 15 October 1993
Filming Locations: Arvin, California, USA
Did You Know?
Some of the debris that was used in the crash scene in
Hero was reused for the crash site in this film.
Errors in geography:
While driving after the crash, Max checks his map and points to Highway 99 between Bakersfield and Los Angeles. However, he is obviously out in the middle of the Mojave desert and nowhere near either city.
[seeing more survivors]
Hey, there's more over here! Bring another team! Another team here by the tail! We're going to need a lot more help.
A Character Study That Goes Beyond
The inability to `reconnect' in the wake of a significant emotional event,
especially one involving a close encounter with death, is examined by
director Peter Weir, in `Fearless,' a gripping drama starring Jeff Bridges
as a man emotionally adrift after walking away from an accident (a plane
crash) that by all rights should have killed him, but inexplicably did not.
And Weir goes on to take what is essentially a character study one step
further, beyond the inevitable `why me?' that one who survives such an
unimaginable episode in their life must necessarily make, to probe the
psyche of the survivor and attempt to sort out the ensuing catch-22 of the
mind, wherein the incident has manifested a schizophrenic sense of
guilt/euphoria born of fate's decree that he, among those now dead, should
live. It's a lot to assimilate; a taxing physical and psychological
challenge necessitating an expanded utilization of the human capacity, and
the subsequent negotiation of the attendant recast attitude and aptitude.
All of which Weir succinctly captures through keen observation and his own
intuitive grasp of the human condition.
As the film opens, we see Max Klein (Bridges) making his way through a
cornfield just outside of Bakersfield, California; he's carrying a baby in
his arms and has a young boy by the hand, leading him determinedly through
the haze of smoke from the crash. There are others following Max, as well.
And even before they emerge from the field, coming upon the crash site where
rescue workers are already furiously attempting to sort it all out, there is
a detachment about Max that is readily discernible. He surveys the
situation calmly, as if seeing it all through the eyes of someone else, as
if he were outside of himself, observing rather than experiencing. Then
after locating the baby's mother, he simply walks away from it all, never
Two days later the F.B.I. finds him in a local motel. They put him together
with a representative from the airline, who offers him a train ticket back
home to San Francisco. But Max wants to fly home, which astounds the rep.
`But your wife,' she says, `Told us that you didn't like to fly, even before
the–' `The crash?' he replies. Then with assurance he tells her, `I want
to fly home on your airline. But I have a request; I want to go first
class.' And we know now, without question, that Max is not the same man
that he was before the crash.
In his previous films, such as `Picnic At Hanging Rock' (1975), `Witness'
(1985) and `The Mosquito Coast' (1986), Weir established himself as a
director who knows human nature and is adept at exploring the emotional
depths of his characters, in stories dealing with ordinary people thrust
into extraordinary situations. As he does with this film, Weir sets a
deliberate pace and allows that extra moment that means so much to the
development of the characters. It's a subtle approach that adds depth and
resonance to his films, and allows his audience to experience, rather than
just watch, the drama as it unfolds. And he understands (as few directors
do– especially Americans ) the impact that `silence' can have, as in the
scenes here shortly after Max leaves the crash sight. First, Weir shows us
a solemn Max, driving alone through the desert at high speed, gradually
awakening to the joys of living, to that `feeling' of being alive, as he
sticks his head out of the widow and lets the wind hit him in the face,
slapping him with the reality that he is, indeed, alive. But then we see
Max parked by the side of the road, sitting on the ground, pensively staring
out at the vast expanse of desert and at the low, blue mountains in the
distance. The absolute silence Weir effects allows us to share Max's
thoughts at that moment, to get inside his head as he picks up a bit of dirt
and examines it closely, then as he looks up again at the
nothingness/everything that surrounds him. As Max reflects, we reflect with
him; and in that precise moment, that necessary connection between Max and
the audience is firmly established. It's a quiet, and brilliant, piece of
Through many years and many movies, Jeff Bridges has demonstrated time and
again his consummate ability as an actor who can `touch' his audience, and
he continues to evolve with every new film. Max is perhaps his most
challenging role ever, as it requires a vast emotional range to make this
character convincing and bring him to life believably. And Bridges succeeds
magnificently, and on a number of levels, with an inspiring, Oscar worthy
performance. The finesse with which he conveys his moods and emotions is
extraordinary; he enables you to `feel' his displacement, share his
compassion, sense his empathy and know his anger. Quite simply, Bridges
makes Max Klein a character you are not going to forget.
As Laura Klein, Isabella Rossellini gives a remarkable performance, as well,
as the wife given the gift of her husband's life, only to have to suffer his
state of `limbo,' as she desperately attempts to penetrate the defense
mechanisms that have given him a renewed appreciation for the touch, taste
and beauty of life, all of which she is unable to share because his
experience has taken him to a place she cannot possibly go. Her portrayal
is astute, convincing and some of the best work she has ever
Also turning in a strong performance, for which she deservedly was nominated
for Best Supporting Actress, is Rosie Perez, as Carla, a fellow crash
survivor with whom Max forms an especially strong and significant bond.
Written for the screen by Rafael Yglesias (adapted from his own novel),
beautifully filmed by Allen Davian, and with a haunting score by Maurice
Jarre that so sensitively enhances the drama in an understated way,
`Fearless' is an example of filmmaking at it's best.