Friday, March 9, 2018

can’t a man even talk to himself without being interrupted?

It's that time of the blog, that time of the year, that time of life. As Krull begins, continuing this deconstruction of my childhood with film, I'm imagining doing something else other than this blog. I imagine, perhaps a podcast or a different version of the YouTube stuff I was doing. For example, today I saw Thoroughbreds after work and I can imagine an interesting conversation to be had about that movie that might head off on multiple tangents: 1) talk of Anton Yelchin and how it's unfortunate that someone like him will never be as famous as James Dean because there are so many more films and so many more film stars today than there were when Dean died. 2) Anya Taylor-Joy uses her expressionless performance yet again but she also has actual scenes of emoting. (Though, Olivia Cooke's ability to be expressionless is exactly why she was cast in her part, and that's unfortunate.) 3) A discussion/debate about violence in film, whether or not a film that includes violence necessarily promotes it... I come down quite readily on what I think is the obvious answer, but some fools on Facebook who have seen nothing of the film except maybe the trailer were talking about how it promotes gun violence--it contains zero gun violence--because mocking Hollywood liberals is easier than having real discussions. 4) Praising the film as a well-built little thing dealing in obvious, and old, themes of youthful rebellion but crouching that within a fantastic display of female bonding and open discussion about emotion and how to interact with other people.

Or Krull.

1) A discussion of all of the fantasy tropes contained within that are such cliches but still somehow feel fresh every time I watch this particular film. Despite Variety calling it "blatantly derivative hodgepodge of Excalibur meets Star Wars." 2) A rant about how every single person who ever calls Star Wars "science fiction" needs to watch Krull and I dare them, despite the clear laser rifles and the spaceship that is the Black Fortress, to call this anything but "high fantasy". 3) Some in-depth discussion about the relationships in this film, the early Liam Neeson, late John Welsh, and 4) the replacement of voice for Lyssa--Lindsay Crouse dubbed over Lysette Anthony--and Rhun--Michael Elphick dubbed over Robbie Coltrane, which for me would inevitably lead into talk of Greystoke because of the Andie MacDowell connection--her accent was too strong to play the specifically not only British but proper British Jane, so Glenn Close was dubbed in over her lines, and I believe I once said in this blog that if I could somehow get Glenn Close's contact info I would ask if she would read all of Rita's lines from Groundhog Day so I could replace Andie MacDowell again. 5) the locations and the sets (reportedly 23 sets at Pinewood, including the swamp--because I guess they didn't realize swamps exist in the real world--in Pinewood's largest stage (over an acre in size).

Most of the time, of course, I see movies by myself. So, it's hard to find someone to record conversations with. And, even if I could find someone interested, would they like the same movies I do? i.e. good movies, bad movies, horror movies, dramas, documentaries, fantasy, science fiction, the occasional comedy, and every single Oscar nominated film I can see each year. In it for the joy of being sucked into the big screen and for the opportunity to pick things apart piece by piece, even a beloved film like Krull. Not that I will be picking it apart today, but maybe tomorrow. Today, it is all praise and tangents. Rell's answer of "ignorance" as what he would wish for, for example, is a fantastic line, evoking depth of character and storytelling without spelling things out too much.

Also, as the "quicksand" scene happens (not nearly as sad as when Artax succumbs to the Swamp of Sadness, but it is still quite sad when Menno disappears), I'm reminded that at just seven years old, I may have already been reading Starlog Magazine, or maybe I just bought a behind-the-scenes thing for this movie specifically. I know I had the comic book adaptation of the movie. Anyway, I remember reading about all the broken up cork they used for that scene, floating on the water to make it feel like the ground had turned liquid...

And then, I get sidetracked looking at old Starlog covers online, trying to figure out when I first had a subscription. With no success. I was subscribed to Starlog sometime in the mid 80s probably. Fangoria a few years after that. And, so many other magazines after that.

But, then we get to the Widow of the Web, and that whole setting and scene is amazing. And, I find an interesting theory on Reddit that Ynyr (Freddie Jones) and the widow (Francesca Annis) were originally the two people in the prophecy, and the son that she killed was the prophesied saviour, which is why she has been punished with imprisonment in that web. And, apparently the novelization--which I never had and never read--implies that Colwyn and the younger Lyssa are descended from Ynyr and the older Lyssa. The movie never says how long the Beast has been on Krull. Maybe it has been long enough that Ynyr and the Widow grew old. (I always assumed the attack that interrupts the wedding was early in the Beast's invasion of Krull, but everyone seems to know who the Beast is and how the Black Fortress moves around every day that it makes more sense that it has been there a while.

Back to that whole Widow of the Web sequence, though.

The webbing that sings when you shake it, that crystalline spider that seems to have a blood-red human fetus inside its abdomen, and especially that hourglass, the sand of which ends up tied directly to how long Ynyr can continue to live after fleeing the web with information on the Black Fortress' future location. Add to that the personal history of Ynyr and the older Lyssa (with or without the theory stuff I just mentioned) and there is such depth in this one scene that it saddens me to think this film not only didn't make a profit in theaters but won a "Stinkers Bad Movie Award" for "Worst Picture".

Ergo the Magnificent (David Battley) lamenting to Rell (Bernard Bresslaw), "We had no time" is another line that evokes more than that scene maybe deserves to. The film plays in individual scenes like a cheap fantasy, riding the coat tails of "better" films. And, it remains a lesser known fantasy film to this day. But, as a whole, it is so much better than its parts. And, really, it's parts are pretty good.

James Horner's score is amazing. The sets are beautiful. The costumes are great. The characters and performances. And, yeah, the plot hits a lot of fantasy tropes, but it hits them well. This film deserved to fare better than it did.

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