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|Index||25 reviews in total|
Good premise badly gone wrong
The idea of a virus making the world`s cereal crops sterile is a terrifying premise , especially given the present day debate on GM food, and in cinema terms is more relevant today than speculation on atomic war ( PANIC IN THE YEAR ZERO , THREADS , THE DAY AFTER ) or a second ice age ( ICE ). NO BLADE OF GRASS made me sit up and think due to its relevance , but as a piece of film making it`s very flawed.
First of all what are the flash forwards about ? Is someone trying to take out copyright on a new concept ? They don`t really spoil the film but they sure as hell don`t add anything to it. The title song is haunting but the incidental music borders on the obscene, sounding as if a bunch of hippy musicians have mainlined LSD and decided to attack their instruments.And there`s a completely disjointed feel to the film that makes It feel like most of the film ended up on the cutting room floor and we`re watching the bits that are only relevant to the plot. MGM did make cuts to the film for distribution so perhaps we can forgive Wilde for that.What he shouldn`t be forgiven for is including possibly the most tacky , exploitive rape scene in the history of cinema
But I don`t want to put anyone off seeing this film , it`s certainly thought provoking , even if it does at times feel like propaganda. I`d love to see a remake, as long as the producer knows the meaning of the word subtlety
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Standing alone, this film might have been alright; then comes the
But . . . it certainly does not do justice to the story, and it is a mere technicality that the film makers/ writers tweaked the plot to make it an anti-pollution diatribe instead of a bacterial warfare experiment that got away from the Communist Chinese, which is MUCH more believable. The story was also about the failure of government and the transmutation of personality under crisis that would have added time and complexity to this simplistic film -- but would have been worth it. Especially annoying is the addition of the young pugnacious fellow traveller who is a completely different character in the novel, and much more interesting. However, he was deemed inappropriate for a youth-oriented film in 1970.
One commentator has called for a re-make and I agree. NO BLADE OF GRASS was a slap-dash hybrid of an action-adventure with environmentalist overtones, but does justice to neither. This could have been an epic "quest" story as a new social order arises, plus a commentary on fooling with Mother Nature at the risk of civilisation's collapse.
Obscure end of the world film directed by Cornel Wilde. The first six minutes are entirely negligible; we get the message that Man has polluted the planet with the stilted voice-over narration TELLING us; we don't need endless footage of smokestacks belching black smoke into the sooty sky and pipes gushing industrial waste into rivers to hammer the message home, over and over again. This is most likely enough to alienate most modern viewers but if you stick with it you will at least be rewarded by a few surprises. I was astonished by the number of people shot down in cold blood by the characters who are, ostensibly, the heroes of the film. I was continually surprised by the harshness of the "heroes" as well as just about every other character; soldiers shoot their officers, civilians shoot soldiers and the main characters shoot an appalling number of people without blinking an eyelash! They shrug their shoulders after the first massacre and justify themselves by saying, "Well, its Us or Them now!" and afterwards they are a transformed group: Dangerously self-righteous and extremely trigger-happy. There were several points when I wondered, " Geez, couldn't they have tried to talk to them before gunning them down?" You've got to hand it to Cornel Wilde for not trying to pretty it up; this is a movie with a bleak premise and a grim message. I guess things would be even uglier if it were done any truer to life. If the whole thing weren't so badly dated it would be a very interesting look at the savagery that erupts when civilization breaks down, but as it is, the musical score alone makes it kitsch. And about the time that our rag-tag group of trigger happy survivalists engage in a pitched battle with viking helmeted motorcycle marauders(in slow motion, no less!) you may be wondering just what in the hell it is that you are watching. And what is it with the Motorbike riders all the time, huh? Just once I'd like to see a group of middle-class businessmen on a rampage. Its obvious that this was a personal project for Cornel Wilde and even with all of the weaknesses I've described, i must admit to a morbid fascination with this movie. Even when its showing those aforementioned montages of pollution and crooning the title song it's never boring because of its late 60's artsy fartsy editing and time capsule clothes and attitudes. But its just when you start settling into the rhythms of a standard 60's war/adventure film al la The Guns of Navarone or something when the director will have Nigel Davenport administer the coup de grace to a government soldier--and when was the last time you saw THAT in a movie like this? I'd like to see Mel Gibson blast his way thru soldiers and rioting beatniks, and then using his trusty shotgun to blow away elderly farmers and their wives in order to get HIS family to safety! yikes! This movie is hard to find but i know they have it at MOVIE MADNESS in Portland, Oregon. So Enjoy...
I saw this movie only once years ago and have never forgotten it. I remember nothing about the direction. I only remember how horrified I was by the movie. With today's headlines of global warming, war (is it a war yet?)in the Middle East, horrible crimes against humanity worldwide, famine, ecological disasters, you name it... this movie pops into my head all too frequently. I wish it would come out on DVD. Certainly there are equally badly directed movies on the market today. I think this movie would strike a note today (even if it is snickering or guffawing at it's overall horridness). It may not be as good as Shawn of the Dead, but it has certainly stuck in my mind over all these years as one of the best consuming ecological disaster movies I've ever seen.
At least to me it does. True, this film is a little dated. True as
well, most randomly inserted footage of polluted rivers/dead animals &
flashback are annoying at best, not really providing any insight or
contributing to the overall atmosphere of the movie ; but then, it cut
the monotony of the roaming band, allowing a smoother transition for
the following "action" scenes.
So indeed, this movie is not without its flaws, but I hardly understand some of the harsh comments regarding the acting or the scenario ; the casting is excellent and the storyline somewhat believable. Without giving too much clues, if you consider what they go through before getting to the countryside, I wasn't really shocked by the general "shot first and ask questions later" attitude of the "hero", nor did I find the relatively short span of time before the collapse of organized society surprising. (Just look at what a panicked mob can do today and just imagine that there was actually such a dramatic event as portrayed in the story...)
So overall, I'd highly recommend this movie for any amateurs of "end-of-the-world" movies, providing you can get past the pseudo-ecological message and the general feeling of age. (which shouldn't be a problem if like me, you love B movies from the 70's - 80's.) A great late-night movie to which I would really like to see a remake made.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I finally watched my copy of NO BLADE OF GRASS tonight and I enjoyed
it. Parts in the beginning are a bit heavy handed (most of the score
doesn't help either) but it film gets better as it progresses. Nigel
Davenport is certainly restrained as the leader of his group. Nothing
like that stiff upper lip when you are telling people to try and not
shoot your brother. I like it when Davenport's group encounters the
other group and, after they blow away their leader, everyone
immediately accepts Davenport as the new leader. I also love the end
where the narrator says, "This film is not a documentary...but could
be!" I guess they knew Al Gore was going into the film-making business
back in 1970.
You can see the film was influenced a bit by George Romero's NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968). But what is more interesting is you can see how this may have ended up influencing Romero with both THE CRAZIES and DAWN OF THE DEAD. Most notably with DAWN is the fact that the survivors encounter a group of motorcycle savages at the film's end. I also think the makers of 28 DAYS LATER had to have seen this. I know the screenwriter admits being influenced by DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS for the beginning but some of the bits in this are very similar (the soldiers, the fortified estate).
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Cornel Wilde, widely regarded as one of the truest and purest of cinematic primitives due to his blunt, sinewy, straightforward and nonjudgmental presentation of "civilized" man and his disturbingly easy capacity for violence given the correct stimulus, here depicts a very chilling vision of societal collapse in this ecology-minded sci-fi end-of-the-world movie. Mankind's gross polluting of the environment begets a lethal virus which kills off the earth's crops, resulting in famine, mass panic and hysteria, rioting in the streets, and the violent breakdown of society itself. Rugged, resilient and resourceful former military man survivalist Nigel Davenport, his equally strong and durable wife Jean Wallace (Wilde's real life spouse and frequent lead in his pictures), Davenport's fragile, virginal daughter ("Vampire Circus" 's adorable Lynn Frederick) and son, the daughter's nice guy fiancé, a loutish brute and the brute's slutty wife leave London and make a perilous pilgrimage across the desolate, dangerous countryside. Many wayward travelers join the group and form a ragtag army which fends off a savage gang of murderous rapist bikers. Wilde relates this grim premise with his usual stark, spare and no-frills muscular style (although the occasionally clumsy use of flash-forwards badly dates this film), keeping sentiment to a bare minimum, tautly maintaining a properly bleak tone, offering up an upsetting array of jarring visuals (i.e., a dry, barren landscape littered with animal corpses), and refusing to resort to cheap moralizing, but still clearly spelling out the harsh, albeit absolute necessity for killing in order to remain alive and persevere in a barbarous world. A bit crude and rough around the edges, but overall an extremely powerful and unsettling film.
What most people seem to have missed is the Exodus theme and the Moses figure of the main character. He leads people to a new promised land in the midst of chaos and plague. He is assisted by a Joshua character who does the organizational work and heads the military actions. The daughter's fiancé is the hesitant and uncertain Aaron. Somewhat confused overall and not as effective as it could have been. The flash forwards were distracting and set up an anticipation that detracted from the present scenes. It is difficult to see how the film was an argument for environmental causes. It would be better seen as a cautionary tale on the fragility of society. Given a socially disruptive situation people are often incapable of recognizing the need for social order and become, instead, survivalists. Social order is even more necessary when normality is undercut and crisis events threaten to overwhelm our institutions.
A bleak and uncompromising straight-laced minor b-grade apocalyptic
sci-fi survival tale that's crudely made, but is grippingly constructed
(despite a heavy-handed script and typically projected characters) and
with committed acting led by the likes of a hardened Nigel Davenport,
exuberant Jean Wallace and an unforgettably concentrated Anthony May.
John Custance, his family and friend decide to leave London to stay at his brother's farm in the Lake District, as just like the rest of the world Britain is plagued by a destructive virus caused by pollution that's destroying earth's crops and causing unstoppable panic. On their journey they pick up another couple Pirrie and Clara, but also come across a lot of obstacles and anarchy that would change the way they see things.
I wouldn't call it great, as it's an interestingly uneven production and somewhat cautionary tale that has its moments, but there are some problems evident that stop it being better than what it could have been. The two things that do stand out is the use of quick, fragmented flash forward sequences that take away any real sense of building upon surprises and suspense, to only confuse. Secondly it could have been a little more powerful in it theories of civilised society falling apart, as no one is better than anyone else in their primitive state to keep alive. What it feels like is over-the-top melodramatics and struggles, which aren't boring or emotionally forced but could have used a bit more weight. However what director Cornel Wilde develops is an effective apocalyptic vision of a dying world of dreary images (dead corpses --- humans and animals, decaying plant life and destruction of civilisation) covering brooding forlorn landscapes. Even what should be a peacefully desolated countryside, still provides looming threats outside the chaotic cities. Strangely moments had me thinking of M. Night Shyamalan's 2008 eco-thriller "The Happening". The violence has that exploitative, gritty touch with moments of relentless surges and unsettling intensity. It's not graphic, but it doesn't hold out. Wilde does use some odd, if static filming techniques that show its low budget but add to the moodiness, so does the haunting title song. The score can be harrowing when complementing the visuals, but could find it clunky and overdone. The performances are reasonably brought across, even with the black and white shadings.
Just watched again, this for the first time in thirty years. It was as
I remembered it - dreadful soundtrack, some stilted direction, full-on
eco- warrior ranting, but it doesn't matter. The movie has no clichés,
no happy ending, no holding back, no false veneers of good guys and bad
guys. I am wracking my brains to come up with a similarly amoral film,
from the English speaking world - yes, we might see something of this
type from the French new wave, we might see it in Korean or Japanese
movies of today, rarely. Sonatine comes to mind. But in a British movie
of the 1970s, set in our own countryside?
Inspired, bleak, flawed of course and very dated, but damn close to unique. Damn prophetic too. If you want to see what an anti-hero *really* looks like, look at Anthony May's Pirie. Possibly the most plausible EOTW film around.
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