In this inspiring fantasy film, three children befriend a young Cambodian boy who dreams of returning home. When the children meet an eccentric railroad engineer (Mickey Rooney) with an ...
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In this inspiring fantasy film, three children befriend a young Cambodian boy who dreams of returning home. When the children meet an eccentric railroad engineer (Mickey Rooney) with an abandoned steam locomotive, they hatch a plan to restore the train and embark on a wondrous journey to return the young boy to his family.
"Emperor of Peru" is a children's film, which might put off a lot of people (especially adults who don't have children). But never fear, it's a Canadian children's film, which makes all the difference in the world. Apparently, Disney hasn't been as influential in Canada as it has been in the good, old US of A. American family films tend towards blandness, but in Canada a healthy European influence is still felt, and makers of children's' pictures are willing to take chances. Another person who reviewed "Emperor" on this site called it "surrealistic." It might be better described as "imagistic" or "fantastic." (It certainly is "fantasy;" it isn't "realistic" in the conventional sense at all.) Two children deal with the arrival of a foster brother, a Cambodian refugee. All three of them discover a hermetic retired railway engineer (Mickey Rooney) living in the woods. Then the children find an abandoned locomotive and, with the help of the engineer, bring it back to working order. (Or do they? The locomotive in actual operation, represented by stock footage, may be merely a fantasy on the part of the children.) The ambiguity about the last point is the key to the film's style. "Emperor" exists in its own kind of toyshop alternative reality. Fernando Arrabal only had a small budget with which to work, but he turns this to his advantage by choosing to REPRESENT the film's "reality" instead of portraying it realistically. At times toys and cheap paper mache props are made to stand in for real objects. At other times, shots of real objects are made to represent toys. (In the opening sequence, for example, we are shown stock footage of what appear to be actual railway trains. Later on we learn that what we are seeing is supposed to be only a TOY train set.) I can't really use words to describe just how whimsical and delightful all of this is. (Think of a live action "Gumby" episode.) So i guess you'll just have to see "Emperor of Peru" for yourself. Images sometimes speak louder than words........
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