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15 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

Perhaps it is a little too obscure for some

Author: Jon F from England
17 July 2002

I found the film immensely interesting. You see the decay of urbanity from the eyes of a woman ('D') hiding in her bastion of civilisation, a council flat. Her impregnable retreat is suddenly breached by the intrusion of two factors, the imposition on her by an unnamed authority of an orphan called Emily, and her sudden realisation that beyond the wall lies the past? the future? or perhaps an alternative world told through the various incarnations of a house she visits as an unseen entity.

While the brutalised orphans of the streets outside seem to be beginning to supplant the authorities and are accelerating the end of the world. D realises through her wall, that the condition of her society is not new. Society grows from strict disciplinarian routes, and when achieved embarks on a decaying relaxation of morals which inevitably ends in the collapse of society. Those that are necessary to rebuild society are not necessarily nice people, merely essential, thus we arrive at the Gerald character. Eventually Emily and Gerald rescue the savage (troglodyte) children of the subways, and with the help of D and the wall, take them to a new Eden, where the children will be able to begin a new society starting from caveman.

It is obvious because of the cannibalistic nature of the children that Gerald, Emily and D will not survive this process, but their action is essential to build anew, and the children will begin without the memory of their former civilisation's decay. Thus we are brought from the end of the world, to the beginning of a new world for the orphans of the old. Most people believed that the collapse of D's world was a prediction of the collapse of our own, but perhaps our world is actually the one behind the wall. That is up to you.

This is an intensely moving novel produced by a woman of feeling who had witnessed the brutalisation and savagery of war at close hand and understood the nature of the fall of society. Not an action film, but a masterpiece that many will not understand because of its intensely philosophical nature.

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13 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

Slow haunting dream film

9/10
Author: mobia
20 August 2004

Though I was more impressed with this movie when it had it's theatrical debut in the early 1980s, I still recommend this mysterious mood piece. The story concerns a quiet middle aged woman (Julie Christie) living alone during some catastrophic breakdown of modern society. Young illiterate kids live like rats in the subways, garbage covers the streets and nomadic people scavenge in aimless traveling groups. The woman is given a young teenage girl (Leonie Mellinger) to take care of and the girl becomes sexually involved with a young man who takes on the task of caring for homeless children (while he simultaneously sleeps with them). Alongside this melancholic tale, there's another dimension revealed when the woman discovers a Victorian family living inside a strange membranous wall of her apartment. There are curious psychological parallels between the world in the wall and the goings-on in the woman's other dystopia world. The final scenes are truly weird and puzzling so if you like your movies straightforward with tidy narratives, this one isn't for you. For those who enjoy the bizarre and challenging, take a look. My only real criticism is the truly awful synth soundtrack (by Mike Thorne?any relation to Ken?) which constantly works against the imagery.

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8 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

to be recommended

9/10
Author: oakwell (oakwell@talk21.com) from Channel Islands
28 July 2000

I saw this film on TV in the early eighties. Looking back I remember very little of the detail but it was one of those rare films that made you feel cheated when it finished because you wanted it to continue. Strange yes, but still maintained a credibility throughout. I was totally engrossed.

This film was my introduction to Doris Lessing and shortly after seeing the film I bought the book. Now, having read all her books, Lessing is one of my favourite authors. Would like to see the film again - anyone know if it's likely to be re-released?

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

not for everyone

7/10
Author: David Bean (davibean@gmail.com) from United States
3 August 2010

I see from the last few reviews (at least one of which is one viewer's opinion of Christie's career more than of this particular film) that they didn't like the movie. OK. (And for the record, the fact that some have access to working helicopters doesn't mean most people would, and an extensive, working infrastructure isn't needed to maintain relatively few of them.) I've got the DVD of this film, and the transfer certainly leaves something to be desired. But if that, or the "helicopter issue", or a "tacky" film score, will negate any enjoyment you might have, then this film (and this type of film) is not for you. But it definitely is worth watching. Maybe a different director, or the same director taking a different approach would have made this a better film, and one that would have pleased its' critics.

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5 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Psychological Philosophical Thriller - if indeed there is such a genre

Author: Tony Jones from Australia
22 April 2007

Mobia and Jon F (above) describe this movie pretty well. It is a deeply 'philosophical' piece, which sounds an awfully elitist thing to say I know, but it is a movie that demands a reflection upon what it means to be human and the sorts of relationships that bind humans together. It may also be called 'psychological' in that it examines intra-psychic conflicts as well - particularly from the female perspective (which I am not) and that is powerful. It is based in an era of social decay and reminded me of Hobbes where life is "nasty, brutish and short", where humans have been reduced to animals, where the bonds of humanity have been stretched. Is this what we are to become? Is this what we really are? I loved it. It haunted me. I became a Doris Lessing fan after this and have just finished the book. No exploding cars for those that love that sort of thing.

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6 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

My brief review of the film

Author: sol- from Perth, Australia
8 February 2006

The sets, lighting design and foreboding music score all match the gloominess of the material here well, and the atmosphere that these combined elements achieve is what keeps the film relatively intriguing. The first third definitely works better than the final third of the film though, as in the beginning one is trying to decipher what it is all about, and towards the end it just drags, and it looks like it is building up to some revelation, yet at the end nothing new is revealed. The plot is really strange, with many different elements of science fiction worked in, ranging from portholes to the notion of a dire dystopia. It seems somewhat messy, but even so, some have been able to find their own meanings in it, so the film is probably worth a look if it sounds interesting. I would not call it a brilliant film myself, but it definitely does have some elements that will be of interest to certain viewers.

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5 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Missing links

3/10
Author: Curtis Provance from United States
13 July 2007

Not having read the book on which this was based, I found myself wondering quite a lot during the movie: a) I wonder what's going on b) I wonder what this has to do with the plot (if there is a plot) c) I wonder why I rented this

The soundtrack is very poor and there are moments in the movie when the dialog is unintelligible. Had there just been a little more connection or linkage between the "real" world and the fantasy world, I may have empathized with the character more. As it was, I felt that I was suffering more than "D" - but was grateful my agony would only last two hours.

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1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Nothing screams futurism like a wrecked Morris 1100

2/10
Author: alsation72 from Australia
11 March 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A woman lives in an apartment with a magical wall (apparently). She is living in the near future where society has somewhat crumbled (apparently).

She is enlisted to adopt (or foster) a teenage girl and the story largely follows this new character henceforth. The teenage girl hooks up with a young man who is (apparently) running an orphanage despite being first depicted as a street hood with bad character. Strange.

There are also some wild children who, for no apparent reason, wear black theatre make-up on their faces and wear cave-man outfits. The man who runs the orphanage tries to bring these wild children back to his orphanage where they cause havoc.

As far as I could tell this was the plot; it was hard to tell because the story was so poorly told it was quite hard to keep track.

This was made in 1981 and set in the future ... why the hell does it look like the early 1970's?? There is virtually nothing to indicate it is supposed to be the future, except that newspapers are strewn across the streets.

And if society has collapsed why then are there police sirens heard and food on the table.

Why did a government agency force the lady to adopt the teenage girl yet there seem to be orphans everywhere not watched over by the state.

I can't even be bothered talking about the magic wall and the interaction with a Victorian-era family. An idiotic distraction from the "plot".

This is a dreary, badly made film. One is not rewarded by sitting through the entire length of it.

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4 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

One of the ten worst - ever

1/10
Author: The_StarWolf from Canada
14 September 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It's easy to take shots at 50s horror flicks featuring people you'd never heard of before, nor will ever hear from again. But that such a comparatively modern film, featuring name stars such as Nigel Hawthorne and Julie Christie could be so mind-numbingly bad beggars description.

The opening screen reads "When Things Stopped". It's puzzlingly inaccurate as we know officials have working helicopters. Could the film makers be unawares of the complex infrastructure needed to keep those delicate machines flying? Hardly something you'd expect after societal collapse. The opener is accurate in one sense, though as much of the film left me feeling the plot - what there was of it - had stopped.

Christie? She practically send a surface mail letter in to stand for her performance. Much of the film has her so listless that one wonders if the character (or actress) has been shot with an elephant tranq dart.

The bit with the wall that's a gateway to another reality? Excuse me? What possible reason would Christie's character have for wanting to return to her dismal reality after her first time through? The whole concept made absolutely no sense whatsoever. And the kids dancing around the giant egg? Just what drugs did someone slip in the writers' drinking water?

A memorable passage from Ayn Rand's book THE FOUNTAINHEAD has a character reading something which is essentially gibberish and thinking it "...must be profound because he didn't understand it." Wanting to be sure about that here, I showed it to a friend who, at the time, was working on her psych doctorate (with a Lit minor). The film over I asked her if there was something, some deep, subtle meaning I was missing. She replied by pointing out that some non-conforming stories are trying to tie into (she spewed forth psych-babble-double-talk) and make reference to literary (more jargon). Pausing, she looked at the now turned off TV screen, then back to me and went on ...

"And then there's films such as this which are just garbage, plain and simple."

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10 out of 31 people found the following review useful:

Quintessential 60's Star in Descent

1/10
Author: catmantu from Canada
8 May 2001

Saw this dud in London when I was heading East in '82. It was the worst kind of cinematic torture. One of the most pretentious and boring things I've seen. The radiant Julie Christie looking as drab as your auntie Eyesore. She had just turned down a million bucks to star in "The Greek Tycoon". Then she comes up with this piece of aimless drivel. To my mind it marked the downward turn in her career. Instead of showing the film world she was still a player (post Beatty), she drops out and bombs doing it. Can't understand how this tripe has made it to DVD. There are a bunch of good Christie films that warrant the medium: "Darling", "Far From The Madding Crowd", "Petulia", "The Go-Between", "McCabe & Mrs. Miller", "Don't Look Now", or her personal triumph in "Afterglow". Want obscure? What about the underrated "Return of The Soldier", "Heat and Dust" or "The Railway Station Man". Talk about getting it wrong! I expect the next one out of her's will be "In Search of Gregory". At least Criterion is offering "Billy Liar". It's good - check it out. Avoid "Memoirs of a Survivor".

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