Baffling, surreal rarity will impress lovers of the bizarre
Unseen in the UK since it had art house screenings in 1962, this surreal comedy was dug up for the Nouvelle Vague season at London's National Film Theatre in May. The print had turned pink. The plot that eventually develops has a revolutionary required to impersonate the assassinated dictator of a mythical South American country. Polish star Cybulski plays both parts. But along the way a scientist creates a cyborg of an industrialist's wife; there are songs and basic special effects; and a Greek-style chorus comments on the action. The wife and her double are played by Canadian female impersonator Sonne Teal. This was his only film before he died in a plane crash. The chorus is also a man in drag (Dufilho). Everyone seems to be speaking French, but most have been re-voiced. The message seems to be about corruption, but it's hard to grasp. There's lots to look at, however. The mad extravagance (big crowd scenes) may have influenced Jodorowski, and there's some very avant garde jump cutting. If a decent print could be found, La Poupee could be a big rediscovery.
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