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NETFLIX | 30 years of “curtain of fire” – When firefighters were superheroes



The world is constantly changing and in many areas of our human society we end up following the trends. In the cinema, it’s the same thing and each era has its portrait on the big screen. Genres are also shaped and adapted based on what audiences expect of them. Thus, after the appearance of grandiose entertainment films called blockbusters (in 1975), this trend has only become more and more accentuated, making real uncontrollable colossi. Add to that the emergence of streaming platforms that deliver affordable value to keep you in the comfort of your own home and theatrical movies have had to ‘fight’ by delivering gigantic entertainment that doesn’t fit on the smallest. screen.

Today it is indisputable that superhero films set the rules for mainstream cinema, after all, it is impossible to compete with the imagination of a place where there are no rules, where everything happening and where reality does not matter. If we compare it to the past, say, the ’80s and’ 90s, action movies make the rules. Today, even franchises that should be adventure and action end up showing themselves in reality as “superheroes in disguise”, more and more exaggerated and surreal, see the Fast & Furious franchise.

Going back 30 years to 1991, the source of ideas for super productions was a little different. That year we saw, for example, revisited classics like Robin Hood (The Prince of Thieves) and Peter Pan (Hook – Captain Hook’s Return), sequels that subverted their genres for good (The Terminator 2). or for evil (Highlander II), and even a thriller filled with extreme sports (like surfing and skydiving) aimed at capturing the attention of young people (Hunters of Thrills). But perhaps one of the most curious endeavors has been the somewhat unusual idea of ​​putting firefighters fighting fires at the center of a blockbuster. This project is called Fire Curtain.

A team of Chicago firefighters are the heroic protagonists of the blockbuster “Fire Curtain”.

Not that such professionals are not heroic enough on their own, with their job where they risk their lives on a daily basis. But with Fire Curtain, Firefighters would see their popularity renewed and exported around the world as the protagonists of a Hollywood blockbuster movie. The Dream Factory managed to pay homage to the profession of a firefighter, because the fame of the film significantly increased the number of people interested in becoming a firefighter. Other than that, several extras and members of the supporting cast were real firefighters in real life.

The idea for the script, of course, came from a firefighter. Gregory Widen worked in the area for three years and saw a friend killed by the so-called “curtain of fire” (Backdraft), a term that defines an enclosed place where fire and heat build up while waiting for the contacted with minimal oxygen does so. .it explodes into a boiling ball. This is also the title that Widen gave to the script. Before selling his text to Universal Pictures, the screenwriter mapped the cult film Highlander – The Immortal Warrior (1986).

At the heart of the plot of “Fire Curtain” is the family relationship of brothers Stephen and Brian McCaffrey.

The plot created by Widen has several parts with a few main characters. It is precisely for this reason that he has one of the best castings of a major production of the 90s. The main story and the heart of the film speak of a family relationship of generations of firefighters. It all begins Dennis McCaffrey, a Chicago firefighter hero who dies in action and leaves behind two young children. A time jump later and we notice that Stephen ‘Bull’ McCaffrey (Kurt Russell) has closely followed his father’s line of work, becoming the leader of his division. He is an intrepid guy, a real “bull” (hence the nickname), but whose tough temperament keeps him further and further away from his wife (Rebecca De Mornay), from whom he is separated, from his little- son and younger brother Brian McCaffrey (William Baldwin).

Notably, Brian, the real protagonist of the film, wants to overcome the trauma of his father’s death and become a firefighter himself. The film recounts his career as a “first year man” and his training in the company. When the relationship with his older brother builds up a lot of gunpowder, it ends up exploding, throwing Brian into another area of ​​the trade: investigating firefighter expertise. There, he acquires a new mentor, the Oscar-winning role Robert De Niro (yes, I said I was one of the best actors of the decade), giving any film greater credibility. The actor’s character, Donald Rimgale, is a real firefighter and his real name is even used in the plot. Which makes Fire Curtain, in part, a biography too.

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Every movie gets better with Robert De Niro. Here he saw a real character.

Rimgale investigates arson using so-called fire curtains. The explosions kill important people and investigators begin to determine who might be behind the actions and their motivation. Here we also have the device known as the whodunit, where a story features a possible culprit of crimes as one of the many characters featured so that in the end it is revealed who he was. Despite this, the real villain of this action piece is none other than the fire itself. And how many other movies can you say that’s happening? The way the fire is constructed and narrated by each of the characters, some with awe, some with respect and others with awe, is a clear preparation for the hero challenge. The way he stalks, the way smoke comes out and then is sucked under the doors in the fires, it’s like an antagonist is preparing for his attack as the great enemy makes his introduction.

Rounding out the main cast, veteran Donald Sutherland plays pyromaniac psychopath Ronald Bartel, Oscar nominee Jennifer Jason Leigh plays a rising politician’s assistant and the romantic interest of protagonist Brian, the late JT Walsh as ‘such an ideal politician and attitudes beyond apologies, and Scott Glenn (who in the same year will participate in the Oscar phenomenon The Silence of the Lambs) as John Adcox,’ Bull’s’ best friend in society.

“The hand… that burns in the fire”. Rebecca De Mornay and Kurt Russell live ex-husband and wife.

The role of protagonist Brian, however, almost fell into the hands of a then-unknown young actor, who would have his first big breakthrough in the film. Brad Pitt lost the character to William Baldwin. By a twist of fate, Baldwin had to cancel his participation in Thelma & Louise, released the same year, the end of which would fall on Pitt’s knees, serving as a cinematic revelation. In addition to Pitt, Keanu Reeves and Robert Downey Jr. auditioned to play protagonist Brian.

In charge of production, actor turned director Ron Howard comes from hits that marked the 1980s in the genres of fantasy, science fiction and comedy, see Splash – A Mermaid in My Life (1984), Cocoon (1985) and Willow – In Land of Magic (1988). Specializing in films for the whole family, with the release of The Shot That Didn’t Backfire (1989) the year before, Howard was starting to move towards more serious films and Fire Curtain helped as one of the first stages of this escalation. . – a movie with high ratings and more adult themes. The director will soon deliver highly regarded and Oscar-winning works such as Apollo 13 (1995) and Uma Mente Brilhante (2001).

Face to face with danger. Brian (William Baldwin) confronts psychopath Ronald (Donald Sutherland).

Fire Curtain benefited greatly from the fact that back then computer visual effects (known as CGI) were in their infancy and found Terminator 2 – The Final Judgment (released the same year) l ‘one of their great precursors – with Jurassic Park (1993) evolving it to a new level soon after. Thus, all the technical part involving the creation of scenes with fire had to be done in a real, naked and raw way. Which makes the action more credible and tense. In fact, some cameras were prepped in protective suits to get through the blaze, including the onlooker in action amid the burning buildings. The result was so positive that it led Universal Studios to create a theme park attraction based on the film, something unheard of for a feature film with high ratings.

Intense hell. One of the many hot action scenes from “Fire Curtain”.

With a budget of $ 40 million, Cortina de Fogo proved to be one of the biggest movie hits of its respective release period, grossing over $ 150 million at the global box office. Cortina de Fogo completes 30 years since its launch in 2021, having debuted on May 24, 1991 in the United States, arriving in Brazil on August 9 of the same year. The blockbuster is currently available on the Netflix collection and is a great choice for fans to celebrate their birthday or for younger viewers who love the root action to know by watching it for the first time. The warning remains: the temperature will rise.

PS. In 2019, a late sequel was released directly on video. Entitled Fire Curtain 2 (Backdraft 2), the feature film brings back to the cast the presence of William Baldwin as Brian McCaffrey, Donald Sutherland as Ronald Bartel, screenplay by Gregory Widen and production by the same Raffaella De Laurentiis, Brian Grazer and Ron Howard from the original.

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