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  • Writer's pictureJames Rutherford

‘Salvador’: A Vivid Depiction of Richard Boyle’s Firsthand Coverage of the Salvadoran Civil War

Movie poster for the film Salvador starring James Woods and Jim Belushi

“Salvador” (1986) Is a gritty and penetrating war drama starring James Woods as Richard Boyle, the real-life photojournalist who traveled to El Salvador in 1980 to cover the Salvadoran Civil War. A hard-drinking womanizer and renowned war reporter, Boyle recruits his unemployed DJ friend Rock (Jim Belushi) to accompany him on an excursion to the war-torn Central American nation in order to pursue freelance opportunity.

Upon arrival, Boyle and Rock quickly realize the gravity of their situation as they become immersed in the fierce struggle between the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) and the US-backed military regime. Relentlessly engaging both sides in the brutal conflict, Boyle ultimately finds himself on a very personal mission to deliver a former flame named María (Elpidia Carrillo) and her children out of harm’s way—and out of El Salvador altogether.

Co-written by Boyle alongside director Oliver Stone (“Platoon”, “Wall Street”), “Salvador” is a starkly authentic depiction of historical warfare, laced with shades of bristling humor and supported by utterly searing performances across the board. Woods shines brightest as the caustic newsman in all of his in-the-line-of-fire bravado and recklessness, helping to deliver a galvanizing glimpse into the United States’ controversial participation in the Central American crisis.


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