Wonderwall (1968) Poster


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Fab film that captures perfectly a moment in time.
christopher-underwood21 January 2018
Wonderful is the obvious but apt accolade for this strangely obscure little gem made literally at the peak of what became known as 'Swinging London' or more generally the 'Swinging Sixties'. It looks absolutely fabulous with superb costumes and stunning sets. As for locations, I eventually tracked down the reservoirs at West Molesey as the primary source with Beesborough being the primary one and I assume the associated pumping station was that used both for the workplace scenes and the later rather manic cycle machine scenes. I had never realised the close connection between the Beatles and Roman Polanski but writer Gerard Brach (Cul de Sac, What? Fearless Vampire Killers and the film under discussion) seems to have been the main link, although actor Ian Quarrier and director Joe Masot were apparently big on the 'scene' during 1967 and 1968. George Harrison made considerable contributions to British cinema of the time but his more extreme Indian influences to this soundtrack are probably the only let down. Fortunately director Massot has assembled an alternative cut of the film using the original Wonderwall sessions and this makes for a much more acceptable viewing. Jack MacGowran, much favoured by Samuel Beckett but also appeared in Cul de Sac and Fearless Vampire Killers, is perfect in the role of obsessive mad professor cum obsessive peeping tom. Which brings us to Jane Birkin, who doesn't do too much in this (she doesn't even speak) but is 1967/68 London personified. She has that 'look', she can wear those clothes (or not) and moves with a grace that almost takes the breath away. Something between a butterfly and a gazelle. she floats through the film seemingly effortlessly, her role simply to move about with or without clothes and to 'react' to others. Fab film that captures perfectly a moment in time.
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Geek Meets 60s
billcurry-123 May 2011
I like George (may his soul play ukulele in heaven), and I like Jane Birkin (may that shadow of Serge Gainsbourg continue to dance with Beck). But to paraphrase Beck, Wonderwall's a loser, baby, why don't you kill it? And, for God's sake what did the pictures of the Beatles at the end have to do with the film? The guy that plays the professor is somewhat humorous in a Charlie Chaplin sort of way (or that guy in silent films who used to hang onto clock towers and things). All in all a tête à tête between Harrison and Birkin on their philosophies of life may have made an interesting movie. Probably much better than My Dinner with Andre. My Dinner with a Dish?
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Freakout Flashback Forty Years Later
rokcomx5 December 2009
Warning: Spoilers
The epically wonky 1968 Wonderwall features music by George Harrison and psychedelic visual design by The Fool, that group of acid head techno artists who painted the Apple office building in the '60s and had much to do with the latterday Beatles imagery (I wonder if Magic Alex ever perfected his magic box?).

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 -
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Blotter Optional
ferbs5421 September 2009
Warning: Spoilers
In the 1968 psychedelic curiosity "Wonderwall," we meet Collins, an absentminded microbiologist at the Metropolitan Water Board (played by Jack MacGowran) who has spent the better part of his life observing interesting and colorful objects through a small hole (test slides through a microscope). His life gets turned around one day when he discovers some new, even more colorful specimens to ponder: the swinging models and hippies who live, work and party in his next-door flat...and who he can now spy on, thanks to a small aperture in his moldering apartment. Known primarily today for George Harrison's psych rock and droning-raga soundtrack, "Wonderwall" is a souvenir of swinging London that should just manage to please modern viewers...even those who are not lysergically enhanced. Every one of Collins' numerous fantasy episodes, and every glimpse into that apartment next door, is like a peek into a psychedelic, color-saturated wonderland. Whether Collins' neighbors are engaged in a photo shoot, a pot party or a bout of lovemaking, director Joe Massot mines psychedelic gold, and costume designer Jocelyn Rickards decks one and all in retina-pleasing finery. Jane Birkin here plays a mod model who is the chief object of Collins' obsessed fantasies; yes, she HAD played another model just two years before, in Antonioni's "Blow-up." "Wonderwall" may bring to mind bits of other films, such as "Peeping Tom" and 1985's "Brazil," mixed in with some Monty Python and even the front cover of Spirit's classic 1970 album "12 Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus." It drags at times, and even this director's cut, shorn of a dozen or so minutes of previous footage, feels a bit padded. Still, I found it, for the most part, a colorful way to spend 73 minutes. As the always pithy Michael Weldon puts it, in my beloved "Psychotronic Video Guide," "it's good for the 'swinging London' fashions and the music." Blotter is optional.
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Psychedelic Oddyssey
Seamus282919 December 2008
Wonderwall is certainly a period piece from 1968. The plot concerns a lonely old college professor,played by Jack McGowan, who periodically spies on his attractive,young fashion model,played by Jane Berkin (star of many a French film),thru a hole in the wall. The professor starts to drill more holes in his wall,so he can view her from various perspectives. The film earns it's kudos from it's production values,it's use of colour (the professor's flat is a dreary,colourless one,while the model's flat is a burst of psychedelic colours). This little seen film fared poorly in the U.K. & even worse in the U.S.,before it was promptly forgotten in the dustbin of ignored films. Pity....it would have made for a most fitting addition to the rank of midnight movies in the early to mid 1970's. One didn't have to partake of various mind expanding drugs to enjoy this odd little film, but it sure didn't hurt. The film's director was Joe Massot,who would be more recognized nearly a decade later as the co-director of 'Led Zepplin:The Song Remains The Same' (he directed the "fantasy" sequences featuring the members of Led Zepplin,as well as their then manager,Peter Grant, that for some managed to pad the film out way beyond it's two hour,plus running time). The most notable aspect of this film is the musical score,which was composed by George Harrison,who wanted it to sound as much anti Beatle as possible (and succeeded). A brand new print of this forgotten film was re-discovered a few years back,restored with a punchy sounding soundtrack & re-released. Worth seeking out. No MPAA rating here,but contains a bit of peek-a-boo nudity & adult situations which could have earned it an 'R' rating back in 1968
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Peeping Tom Psychedelia
vandino118 February 2008
Any movie that is defended with the idea that it can only be enjoyed by viewing after taking drugs... well, c'mon, you know it's got to be pretty bad. And this is bad, no mistake about it. Sure, it's very colorful, and for the drug-inclined it's an eye-popping visual "overdose" of nostalgic psychedelia...

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.
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Incomprehensible Mess
bowdenj-17 December 2006
This film is a piece of pretentious, pseudo-psychedelic crap. It is bad even for the sixties (and, being a child of the sixties, I've seen it all)! As for the soundtrack, George Harrison was right - he didn't know anything about movie music. Of course, all the people who slobber all over anything related to the Beatles will call the soundtrack a work of genius, but it's a perfect match for this dismal attempt at....what? Certainly, Harrison was a gifted guitarist (and Ringo was a pretty good drummer), but not everything the Beatles touched was magic (witness Hey Jude and Let It Be - two pieces of absolute twaddle to which no one would have given a second listen had they been written and performed by anyone else. However, I will say this in defense of Harrison: no one could have written a soundtrack that could have saved this piece of dreck.
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This is the reason why hippies shouldn't make movies
TheScottman3 February 2006
Warning: Spoilers
This movie make little to no sense during it's running time. Maybe you have to be on drugs to understand this movie, but I doubt even that would help.

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.
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THE psychedelic masterpiece
bobby cormier1 June 2005
for me, the psychedelic equivalent of Citizen Kane must either be Wonderwall or else Conrad Rooks' Chappaqua. this film must be THE psychedelic masterpiece. it comes with incredible credentials. just check the credits. i was recently watching it with james t. rao (from the band Orange Cake Mix) & he said, "wow, this must be the BEST psychedelic film!" & we've watched almost EVERY film of this genre. don't take LSD & watch the film. or DO take LSD & watch the film. you'll find very little difference. the plot is touching & sentimental but with an edge. the "message" of this wonderful art film is complex & multi-layered & manifold. watch it a few times & see new things each time. "it's the lanolin that does it." the color is gorgeous. the DVD extras are incredible & include the director's first film (a short).

-bobby cormier
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A glossy cine-magazine of Jane Birkin.
Peter Whittle4 February 2005
'Wonderwall' was one of four 'alternative-cinema' films to debut at the newly opened:'CINECENTA' multi-complex off Leicester Square in January 1969. It had previously had its 'World-Premiere' at the Cannes Film Festival in 1968.

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!).
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This film is now available on DVD
drevhud30 December 2001
This "wild" 60's romp is now available on DVD from Rhino. It looks to me like they rushed it out after George Harrison's death. The extras are pretty lousy, but the disc is worth it for the movie alone. The soundtrack seems to have been remastered, but the film seems to be an old beaten up print. Still it isn't too shabby. I would recommend this film to fans of psychedelic movies and Beatles completists. Others may be bored.
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A wonderful little film, if you can find it.
sfried29 October 2000
Well, I just saw a restored print of this at the Screening room. It is a marvelous piece, light and yet moving, filled with wonderful visuals, a great performance by Jack McGowran and a marvelous (and unfortunately out-of-print) score by everyone's favorite Beatle, George. The synopsis above just doesn't do justice to the film. Yes, it's about a daffy old guy who peers in on a lovely young woman living next door, but there's nothing creepy or pathetic about it. In fact, he's actually quite a bit a of a dashing and romantic figure in his own detached, weird way. One of the most notable things about the film is the art direction, done by the band/art collective The Fool. An obscure folk group (sort of a lesser Incredible String Band) they made the most of what was most likely a thin budget by pouring every ounce of energy into creating two amazing sets for the adjacent apartments of the old man and the young model. They are, without a doubt, two of the coolest looking places to live I have ever seen in a movie (I would give my eye-teeth to live in either one of those flats) and they form as much of a part of the main characters as the portrayal by the actors themselves. The old scientist lives in Celtic-Medieval warren, inspired by Pre-Raphaelite design, and the young model lives in a mod Sixties psychedelic/glam environment suffused with overtones of 20's/30's nostalgia. Both apartments then are filled with a yearning for the past and so, the old man becomes no more of a romanticist than the girl, despite his age. He is actually quite dashing in his cape and tuxedo when engaging in some of his later escapades, like some bandit out of a Fantomas picture. No, this movie isn't about a pathetic old guy lusting after a lithe young thing. It's about a few other things more interesting and perhaps more touching, but you'll have to find out for yourself. In any case it's a nice little treat worth finding, if you can.
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