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I recently obtained this film on DVD and I have been waiting to watch it for a long time, having enjoyed Fernando Arrabal's other films.
This film is quite different from his other efforts. It is more clearly an adaptation of a play than his other films and the scenery could easily be reproduced on a stage. This not a criticism at all though as it gives the viewer that theatrical feel, but as it is a film it is easier to get absorbed into the story.
The plot is set in a post apocalyptic Junkyard where people take refuge from authority and are able to practice their fantasies and fetishes without being stopped by the police. These people are led by Emanou who is a sort of Messiah, who promises music rather than salvation.
Emanou is not only hinted as as being the Messiah for these people, but his dialogue is comprised mainly of quotations from Christ (if I'm not mistaken focusing mainly on Matthew's Gospel). Even the events that befall him are echoes of Christ's life, surrounded instead by punks rather than disciples. One gets to see conversions, sermons, miracles, the lot. This fact is both the strong and the weak point of the film. This is why I couldn't give the film more than a 7/10. The fact that Christ's persona and speech and acts are transplanted into a filthy and perverse world is interesting in itself, but as the dialogue and the plot is consistently mirrored from the gospel it gave me a feeling of a certain laziness, and the length of the film was somewhat a stretch of an interesting scenario that could have been shorter to have the same efficacy.
I'm writing this with great uneasiness as I criticize the great Arrabal but it is what I felt. There are also several positives which I found really good and typical of Arrabal's mischievous wit.
The police (which in the film are the reflections on the Romans in Christ's passion) are extremely entertaining, and are the strongest reinterpretation figures in the film in my opinion. Whenever they reappeared they provided the surreal satire that the rest of the film somewhat lacked. The soundtrack is brilliant and memorable and the camera work, as it tracks from one wreckage to another, voyeuristically observing each person in turn is excellent as it added to the distance between the viewer and the characters, who act out different perversions in different locations, like pigeon holes.
Overall a good scenario adapted from a good play, whose transition to film had its advantages and disadvantages. For any lover of Fernando Arrabal's work, still a must see.
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