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The movie is so freakish, it's almost impossible to absorb - as an artifact of the 60s and hippie culture, and an example of some of the first Beatles "solo" music, it was well worth watching, and probably worth the high price that the limited edition U.S. region DVD sells for.
The first thing that comes to mind, a few minutes after finishing the film, is "This must be what it's like to do peyote, throw up, and then spend two hours staring at your vomit and marveling at how wondrous and beautiful your former lunch now looks...." An aging nutty professor and OCD paper hoarder finds a peephole in his cluttered apartment that glows like starlight (set within a wall mural painting of a crowned goddess in the sky) - When he looks thru the hole, he sees an otherworldly beautiful oft-under dressed young woman named Penny Lane (played by lovely blank-faced cipher Jane Birkin, who was equally blank in Antonioni's equally obtuse movie Blow-Up).
Penny Lane seems to be perpetually posing for 60s soft core porn mags, cigarette commercials, and stewardess ads, alone and/or with equally under dressed ladyfriends.
One one side of the wall, the Old Prof's side, it's just another day, the barber shaves another customer, the banker looking in --- On the OTHER side of the peephole, it's the 24-hour freak out channel, with freak out music kicking in every time the old man peeps at the fetishistic nylon leg shows and Hefner-fueled/acid-soaked visions of a Wild and Wonky World According To Playboy.
Opening more peepholes seems to open more worlds – or are these just the Old Prof's daydreams? In one trippy vision, the old Prof improbably sees himself, outdoors, battling a teenage Superman with "weapons" like giant ciggies and lipstick tubes. Or at an effeminate cowboy riding a plastic rocking horse and talking on the phone, or a hippie mermaid chick floating on a sea of polyester fabric while brushing her hair, or a Perplexing Planet of Preposterous Sunglasses.
He peeps most often at an ongoing idyllic Dionysian hippie party jam, with flute-playing flower children and beautiful dancing gypsies (with almost EVERYone smoking something, either ciggies or ??). The smoking in various other wonder worlds ranges from small glass pipes to Chong-sized roaches and giant octopus hookahs – Amusingly, the Old Prof himself, in his world, is proudly a non-smoker --- tho one wonders about how lab-customized his beloved sugar cubes may be, given his increasingly bizarre visions thru the Wonder wall.
The Old Prof becomes so obsessed that, for awhile, he seems to stop shaving or sleeping or doing anything else aside from peeping. Sorta presaging the advent of 500-channel TV feeds, it could be said --- When he strays too far from the wall - like when he goes to work at the lab one day, if only to study up on alternate realities and gaze lovingly at Penny Lane thru his microscope (?!)- he suddenly becomes black and white. As does the world around him. Only the wonder wall can color his world....
At some point, one of the wonder wall visions appears to actually be the adjoining room of a young hippie couple - or is it? Everything on the Other Side is just a colorful and hallucinogenic as his other visions.
When he realizes he's fallen in love with the young girl - or at least with her magical hippie wonderland - he manages to find a magic (Alex) doorway and dramatically leap into her world, apparently by dressing as a top-hat magician and fondling his magic wand (don't ask....) In summation – glad I watched it. Glad it was restored, especially the sonically engaging soundtrack, and glad it came out on DVD. Also glad the hippies – and Hollywood's brief trippy obsession with them – pretty much died with the Beatles.
I'll probably never have occasion to spin this inexplicable trip-fest again, unless under the influence of the Old Prof's suspect sugar cubes, but I'm glad I finally got to checkout this funky flashback, 40 years after it first came and went -
But at the the heart of this foolish fruity farrago is an offensive story of a geeky middle-aged man obsessing pervertedly over a pretty young woman living next door -- that obsession fueled by non-stop Peeping Tom activity. This sick invasion of privacy is treated as an excitable, joyous, comical diversion. It leads the geek professor to wild flights of fancy and lunatic dreams, giving us plenty of bizarre sequences filmed in full 60's psychedelic-meets-Richard Lester glory. But, wacky comedy-wise, it's weak tea in comparison to Lester's 'The Knack' or 'Help!' And considering the obvious Lester-Beatles influence (including the actor playing Birkin's boyfriend having a distinct Liverpudlian accent) it's no surprise that George Harrison provides the score.
Too bad that the score is awful. Whole scenes go by with virtually no dialogue, thus a catchy pop score from Harrison would be welcome, and add to the nostalgic value of the film beyond the psychedelia. Unfortunately we get the Shankar-sauce sitar-period Harrison. Only those finding a nostalgic trip from Indian music that sounds like the wailing of out-of-tune violins (or worse, the sound of a cat trapped inside bagpipes) will be pleased. Otherwise, it's an ear-offending slog.
And otherwise, filmically, you get a frantic but professional performance from Jack Macgowran, a lot of eye-catching shots of pretty cult-figure Jane Birkin, and a few comic bits that work.
The plot of this movie is Professor Collins and a woman named penny moves in. A lot of the movie is just Collins alone, so there isn't much dialogue, in fact there isn't much of anything that happens during this movie. He starts to look through the wall and see women dancing and doing other things. Then when he starts to make his view window bigger he finds there is a brick wall behind it and it's the wall itself.
I say stay away from this movie, there is no point to it.
I'm sorry if this offends anyone, but it's just my opinion.
The 'George Harrison' Soundtrack of Indian Ragas & etc. are the aural sound-sheet of a truly reprehensible plot with dull stupefyingly mind-numbing 'animated inserts'such as Butterflys escaping from a collectors album.The whole film seems to be a 'screen-test' for Jane Birkin.She wears coloured tights,Indian dresses,Sunglasses,& on & on............Jack MacGowran actually seems out-of-place in his admirable interpretation of a stuffy lonely Zoological Professor. The actual idea of a lonely bachelor peeping through a hole in a wall on his beautiful débutante neighbour is brilliant.The film doesn't make enough on this concept alone. The Film is too chic & it retains no style.Jane Birkin is flamboyant & exotic but she doesn't have a single word of dialogue.(Except some gibberish heard when the Professor eavesdrops).I assume this was intentional BUT a bad decision.Not hearing Jane Birkin speak makes her even more Kewpie-doll & a window-dressed mannequin throughout this movie. The 'Word-Cards' that were inserted should really now come out & the Director should issue a 'Director's Cut' taking out all the period 'animated-inserts' & politely asking MsBirkin to NOW add a voice-over in suitable places.Perhaps any additional footage could be restored because the film doesn't hold a strong enough allure.(Except of course la Birkin in nice poses!).