Salvador (film)

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Salvador (film) POSTER.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Oliver Stone
Produced by Oliver Stone
Gerald Green
Written by Oliver Stone
Richard Boyle
Starring James Woods
Jim Belushi
Michael Murphy
John Savage
Elpidia Carrillo
Cindy Gibb
Music by Georges Delerue
Cinematography Robert Richardson
Edited by Claire Simpson
Distributed by Hemdale Film Corporation
Release date
  • February 28, 1986 (1986-02-28)
Running time
123 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $4.5 million
Box office $1.5 million

Salvador is a 1986 American war drama film co-written and directed by Oliver Stone. Stone wrote the screenplay with Richard Boyle. It stars James Woods as Richard Boyle, alongside Jim Belushi, Michael Murphy and Elpidia Carrillo, with John Savage, and Cynthia Gibb in supporting roles.

The film tells the story of an American ex-IPN journalist and one-time author of the 1972 book The Flower of the Dragon: The Breakdown of the U.S. Army in Vietnam, covering the Salvadoran Civil War who becomes entangled with both leftist guerrillas and the right wing military while trying to rescue his native girlfriend and her children. The film is highly sympathetic towards the left wing revolutionaries and strongly critical of the U.S.-supported military, focusing on the murder of four American churchwomen, including Jean Donovan, and the assassination of Archbishop Óscar Romero by a death squad. The film was nominated for two Academy Awards: Best Actor in a Leading Role (Woods) and Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen (Stone and Boyle).[1]


Veteran photojournalist Richard Boyle has been taking his camera to the world's trouble spots for over 20 years. While he does good work, Boyle's fondness for booze and drugs, and his colossal arrogance, have given him a reputation that's left him practically unemployable. Broke and with no immediate prospects, Boyle and his buddy, Doctor Rock, an out-of-work disc jockey, head to El Salvador, where Boyle is convinced that he can scrounge some lucrative freelance work amidst the nation's political turmoil. However, when Boyle and Rock witness the execution of a student by government troops just as they enter the country, it becomes clear that this war is more serious than they were expecting. Increasingly convinced that El Salvador is a disaster starting to happen, Boyle eventually decides that it's time to get out, but he's reunited with an old flame named Maria and her two children (one of whom is his), and he doesn't want to leave her behind.

While attempting to get her out of the country, Boyle is harassed by the military due to his profession and eventually leads to the deaths to innocent people by death squads.

Boyle and Maria eventually leave the country towards the United States. However, upon entering California, their bus is stopped by immigration officers and Maria allows herself to be deported alongside her children due to her guilt of leaving her homecountry behind while Boyle is arrested after desperately arguing with the officers.



Box office[edit]

The film was not successful at the box office, grossing a total of $1,500,000 in the United States.[2]

Critical response[edit]

Salvador was popular among critics. As of January 28, 2013, the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes records an average response of 92%, based on 24 reviews. Roger Ebert, a film critic for the Chicago Sun-Times, gave the movie three stars out of four and wrote, "The movie has an undercurrent of seriousness, and it is not happy about the chaos that we are helping to subsidize. But basically it's a character study — a portrait of a couple of burned-out free-lancers trying to keep their heads above water."[3]

Walter Goodman of The New York Times wrote an unfavorable review, arguing that while "as an adventure film, [it] has plenty of speed, grit and grime", it depicts "improbable people doing implausible things" and in some cases deviates from reality "for the sake of heightening the drama and hammering in the political point". He also compared it to the work of Constantin Costa-Gavras, cinematically as well as politically.[4]


The film garnered two Academy Award nominations for Best Actor in a Leading Role (James Woods) and Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen at the 59th Academy Awards ceremony.

Home media[edit]

The Region 1 special edition DVD was released on 5 June 2001, and includes the following bonus features:

  • Commentary by director Oliver Stone
  • 62 minute documentary "Into the Valley of Death"
  • Eight deleted scenes
  • 46 production photos
  • Original theatrical trailer[5]


  1. ^ "The 59th Academy Awards 1987". Retrieved 3 February 2016. 
  2. ^ "Salvador". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2009-07-13. 
  3. ^ Ebert, Roger (April 25, 1986). "Salvador". Retrieved December 9, 2016. 
  4. ^ Goodman, Walter (March 5, 1986). "Screen: 'Salvador' By Stone". The New York Times. Retrieved December 9, 2016. 
  5. ^ DVD review

External links[edit]