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A small town in rural Australia (Paris) makes its living by causing car accidents and salvaging any valuables from the wrecks. Into this town come brothers Arthur and George. George is killed when the Parisians cause their car to crash, but Arthur survives and is brought into the community as an orderly at the hospital. But Paris is not problem free. Not only do the Parisians have to be careful of outsiders (such as insurance investigators), but they also have to cope with the young people of the town who are dissatisfied with the status quo. Written by
Mark Thompson <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The opening scenes that feature a couple driving in a car and smoking prominently displayed cigarettes were a parody of a commercial aired on Australian television at the time of the film's original release. Website 'Peterweircave' says of this: "The opening "advertisement", which many viewers seem to take as blatant product placement for Coke and Alpine cigarettes, was actually a spoof in itself. At the time it was made, movies in Australia were often preceded by ads for cigarettes and such. By putting this before the opening credits, Weir was fooling the viewers into thinking this was yet another ad." See more »
A watchman enters a warehouse with a watchdog and he finds Charlie hiding behind a hooded car. The watchdog barks as they enter, but there's nothing to be heard. See more »
This little film appears to have stirred up radical dissent amongst many reviewers. Comments ranging from "stupid," "dull," "dark," "gothic," even "evil!" (I liked that one particularly!) Some other moron figured it was the worst film he'd ever seen. (Obviously he didn't sit through I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE!)
Now time-out here...let's just back it up a bit! Peter Weir is not what you would term a prolific director. He has made just 15 features in exactly 30 years - he doesn't rush things! This was his second turn in the chair. He had at his disposal a budget not much more than that for a 60 second TV Commercial and he was under pressure to finish the flick in time for its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival that year. He did OK and in a master stroke of marketing, managed to get the "star" of the movie - the spiked beetle, on to the Cannes streets where it caused a media sensation. The film was very well received by an appreciative audience.
So, the story is far-fetched? Some of the residents of tiny bush-town Paris deliberately cause auto-wrecks to boost the town's economy. Sure its a way left-field storyline and the acting was never going to win an Oscar nomination. It has though, that indefinable "something" and is early Peter Weir - a study of people in crisis or near crisis? It deserves to be seen for what it is, and the manner in which it shaped Peter Weir's future. THE CARS THAT ATE PARIS was in effect a springboard that gave Weir the opportunity to make PICNIC AT HANGING ROCK the following year. If "Paris" had been a total flop he may never have been asked to direct it!
Watch it again and look for innovation, clever camera angles, smart direction...they're all there! This is relegated now to almost cult film-status in Australia, it is somewhat of a time-capsule!
The only question I have, is who changed the name of this film to THE CARS THAT ATE PEOPLE for US release? especially as they have their OWN "Paris"...in Texas!
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