The original trailer for TRAFFIC
A formidable cast collided for the making of “Traffic”, filmed by Director Steven Soderbergh (winner of Best Director for this film in 2000), including the likes of Michael Douglas, Don Cheadle, Benicio Del Toro (Best Supporting actor winner), Catherine-Zeta Jones, Albert Finney, James Brolin and Dennis Quaid which headline this fantastic piece of film making.
A relevant medley of stories focusing on various areas of the drug trade (users, dealer, suppliers, buyers and the DEA) are where the film focuses. Two primary characters in the film surface –Mexican border policeman Javier Rodriguez (Benicio Del Toro) protects the trafficking of drugs coming in and out of
with his own partner. On the other side of the border we have United States Supreme Court Justice Robert Wakefield (Michael Douglas) who has been deemed as the new “Czar” to the war against drugs. Slowly and methodically, Mexico begins to form a partnership with the Mexican forces of Rodriguez and his team. However, with all of this going on – home lives and personal lives are in shambles. The irony begins to surface as we the audience abruptly learns of Wakefield ’s daughter Caroline (Erika Christensen) who is quickly becoming a victim of drug-addiction. Wakefield
|Erica Christensen and Michael Douglas|
The sense of timing as well as the editing is also quite clean. As for Cinematography, the hand-held usage a key points (not over-used which is a real plus) in the film not only add the suspense genre, but also engage the audience in the docu-drama to gain that added advantage of a closer look in the characters, sets and situations. One area in particular for those who have a chance to re-visit “Traffic” is to take-in the Cinematography, the score, the sound and the camera work that occurs when the film focuses on Mexico. To add, the colors of the film and the gels used always inform the audience as to where they are and what type of characters we are dealing with. What a sense of terror, seediness and unease – and this was perfectly engineered by the film crew.
|(right) Academy Award winner Benicio DelToro|
One comparison in terms of film-making and genre you could almost make is by looking years ahead in 2005 at the intense political-film “Syriana”. That is to say without delving into a discussion about “Syriana” that if you liked one, then odds are quite good that you had a strong appreciation for the other which I obviously did as a film-goer and as a critic.
In sum, this is a highly mature piece of film-making by Soderbergh and his team. ‘Traffic” attacked a tough subject from all angles and made it work as a film, as a docu-drama and as an educational work of art. All three (3) of the stories intertwining the stories maintain audience interest and could have been films of their own right when it comes down to it.
|Don Cheadle and Luis Guzman|
JER: Well, JC, not much to say after everything has been said...in our own personal conversations, we have discussed both the films of Soderbergh and TRAFFIC. I remember first hearing about this project when it was originally a British miniseries produced in the early 80’s called TRAFFIK. Soderbergh took the UK story line and devised the story taking place between Tijuana,
Washington and La Jolla...switching out the original locales of Pakistan and Great Britain from the telling. UK
|Director Steven Soderbergh with camera|
One very distinctive and consistent trademark that makes a Steven Soderbergh film recognizable is the tints and hues used in various scenes. In regards to TRAFFIC, all of the Tijuana scenes bear an over-exposed style of photography, almost white-washing some of the outdoor scenes, only to be colored by rusty tans and mixtures of oranges and yellows. Mostly all of the
Washington scenes, however, are marked more in blue tints... now leaving most of the La Jolla storyline to look and feel more colorful and slightly vibrant. This can only be explained as a marking of desert, rain-pouring and overly- comfortable Southern California living...all in the film and all represented uniquely but its color schemes.
|Douglas, Director Steven Soderbergh and Zeta- Jones|
Another foot-note that must be mentioned is that TRAFFIC is produced by one of my favorite directors, Edward Zwick. Zwick directed such films as GLORY, LEGENDS OF THE FALL, THE LAST SAMURAI and BLOOD DIAMOND. A maverick filmmaker of his own kind, Zwick added a touch of support in the raw storytelling and realistic characterizations that were needed to make TRAFFIC a memorable film!
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