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Connects The Viewer To Ed Wood Jr. and To The Cast
I loved this film. Not being a swooning Ed Wood Jr. fan, I prefer to appreciate his "boundless enthusiasm" and acknowledge his shortcomings. His movies are fun, but his personal story is one racked with pain. I hoped, and was delighted to find, that this film would be about understanding his turbulent life, rather than simply heaping him with posthumous praise. From beginning to end, this film evolves from a documentary into a mythology, leaving the cast and the viewer unexpectedly connected to each other and to Ed Wood Jr.
What we get are people who knew Ed Wood the best talking about him from all perspectives, positive and negative, and showing us their character as much as Ed's. We get insight into Ed's personal and professional life: from his romances, to his drinking, to his sexuality, to his friends, to his enemies, and even to his film making.
The film itself is shot in a low-budget way that seems done out of respect for Ed, as if using the techniques of most theatrically released movies from 1996 would be disrespectful (sort of like wearing a nicer suit than the President). The set designer uses a sense of humor and also a great deal of insight when matching each cast member with their background.
Fans will be excited to hear personal testimony regarding Ed Wood controversies, and new comers will be amazed that this man was real. The DVD is full of impossible to find gems ("Crossroads of Lorado" and photo galleries), but the real treasure of this film is the surprisingly engaging and interconnected story.
Ed Wood had a habit of defining people through their association with him (for better or worse), to the point where one woman will go down in history as "Swimming Pool Owner" for once letting him and his friends be baptized in her pool. This ability to define a person's legacy comes through universally, as the most amazing effect of the film is to not only give a well rounded idea of the man that was Ed Wood Jr., but also to give a comprehensive view of the community that he created. Somehow, without ever having more that one cast member being interviewed on screen at a time, the connection that Ed Wood created amongst the various people in his life becomes clear, and the viewer is left with great sense of involvement.
Even the title hints at the B-list horror genre, but by the end, we see that even this is a kindness. What begins as unrelated stories by random people ends with the conclusion that all of the cast will be forever weaved into an unpredictably cohesive fabric that history will bring into haunting unity with Wood's legend.
In many ways a living contradiction, Ed Wood Jr. could not be condensed to a single viewpoint. This collaborative effort is the closest to knowing him that we can ever get. Being itself a juxtaposition of themes, it is at once respectful, provocative, thoughtful, gripping, fun, sad, kind, and fulfilling.
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