In a post-apocalyptic New York City, three tribes of mutants (the Norms, the Mutates and the Upriver people) battle each other to survive.In a post-apocalyptic New York City, three tribes of mutants (the Norms, the Mutates and the Upriver people) battle each other to survive.In a post-apocalyptic New York City, three tribes of mutants (the Norms, the Mutates and the Upriver people) battle each other to survive.
Strange, quasi-biblical, post-apocalyptic adventure
In the year 3000, the Norms, the Up-River Men, and the Mutates fight each other in, and under, the bombed-out ruins of New York City. Made less than seven years after the bombing of Hiroshima, this is one of the earliest movies to depict a 'Western' city destroyed in an atomic war. The opening images of the ruined skyline, and a later shot of a collapsed Brooklyn Bridge, are good (for the time and budget) and the plot, although simplistic, is quite compelling. The world of 3000 is intriguing: the mutates, who live on the surface, carry the marks of the "dark century" (presumably the 20th) and are shown as scarred and deformed (there is an early reference to extra fingers), and are desperately trying to breed out the problem by raiding the Norms for 'normal' women with which to mate. The Norms and the Up-River men (apparently 'normal' as well) despise the mutates and torture and kill them, both as punishment for the raids and because they think the Mutates inferior and unclean. The look of the future civilisations is standard Hollywood faux-classical/medieval and the script/delivery pseudo-Shakespearian (at one point, a mutate elder delivers a Shylockian plea for understanding when describing his people "Are we not flesh and blood? Do we not love and hate? Are we not born as you, die as you? Have we souls that are less than yours because our bodies are cursed?"). Oddly, the post-apocalyptic world seems a bit more real because, despite the mediaeval trappings and Elizabethan delivery, the characters have names like 'Rob' and 'Gordon'. The religious aspects of the film are also odd. The opening voiceover refers to "a true religion" as a legacy of the 20th century but the Norms rejected God in the aftermath of the war and are apparently now devil-worshipers while the Mutates remained Christians. Both the Norms and the Mutates know the story of the parting of the Red Sea, but the Norms as ancient myth, the Mutates as a story from the Good Book (the latter setting up the film's neo-biblical climax). 'Captive Women' is an odd title (alternate titles are '3000 A.D.' and '1000 Years from Now') and may be another biblical allusion: "When you go forth to war against your enemies, and the Lord your God has delivered them into your hands, and you have taken them captive, and you see among the captives a beautiful woman, and desire her, and take her for a wife" (Deuteronomy 21:10-14) (or maybe as Bill Warren suggests, because RKO president Howard Hughes liked 'Captive Women' more). Despite the budget production values and pedestrian acting, 'Captive Women' is an interesting and watchable example of 'Atomic Bomb cinema': a cinematic relic from the earliest days of the Cold War and American nuclear paranoia.
- Mar 19, 2020
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