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Five bittersweet vignettes that span the entire human history about five different men, all called Hector and played by the same actor (Robin Williams), who find themselves at a critical juncture in their lives. In prehistoric times, Hector lives in peace with his wife and their little son and daughter in a cave on a quite uninhabited island somewhere in the north. His world is shattered when a group of foreign pagan raiders led by a young chieftain and a somewhat pacifistic priest arrive there. In Ancient Rome, Hector is a loyal well-treated slave of Lucinnius, a somewhat naive big trader with political connections. When his latest shipment fails to arrive and the local corrupt governor Cyprion refuses to lend him money for his further endeavors due to bad omen that a professional soothsayer saw while reading the future from a chicken liver, he is ruined. To make things worse, just as Hector plans to ask his master for freedom and elope with his master's female African slave Thalia, ...
Due to adverse reaction at preview screenings, Warner Bros instructed the director, Bill Forsyth, to trim the film by 40 minutes as well as adding narration and a happy ending. Forsyth subsequently disowned the film as a result. See more »
This is the story of a story. Once upon a time there was this story, and the story said to itself, how should I begin?
Try the usual way.
What, in the dark with a man and a woman, in a story that is still to tell itself?
Well, you've got to start somewhere. Say, long long ago... Or, far far away... Or, another time in a different distant country... Or just, once...
That's good. "Far away", so you know the place is close to your own heart. "Once" is nice, so we know that it always ...
[...] See more »
Fables were used in the past to tell stories to children. Here Hector (Robin Williams) and a woman story teller (Theresa Russel) whom we never see but only hear, weave several stories for Hector's children to explain his absence from their lives for several years. Each story attempts to explain figuratively what emotions he went through during the period.
An attentive viewer is amply rewarded by director Bill Forsyth--if you are a casual viewer you will wonder what is happening and consider the film to be disjointed and hence poor entertainment.
Non-linear narratives are not Forsyth's invention--such films have adorned French and Hungarian cinema for decades. "Being Human" is above average in that company merely because of fine performances from Williams, the beautiful Anna Galiena (Beatrice) an Italian actress, Hector Elizondo, John Turturro, William Macy, and Ewan McGregor to mention a few.
While the imaginative storytelling technique was impressive, Forsyth never explains who the lady narrator is. Are we expected to imagine it to be Hector's new love? The gradual jumps in time scales, gives us a socio-historical perspective into Hector's education in life, seen through the eyes of his children. Forsyth is interesting but not the best director using this technique. His film demands attention, both literally and figuratively.
I understand that the director disowns the film after the studios forced him to truncate the film by 40 minutes. Probably the director's cut is far superior to the present version and is likely to be more satisfying to a discerning viewer.
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