Hidden deep in the south of France, practically untouched by the modern age, is a place known by many as 'the Zone'. In this space, the supernatural is an everyday reality of life. Magic is... See full summary »
What people choose to do in the name of politics, which means in the name of money - there are no morals. There is no integrity at all. They'd sell their child down the river for money.
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The 1996 adaptation of one of my favourite H.G. Wells story, starring Marlon Brando and Val Kilmer, was not well received to put it politely, and its production even less rosey. Well, 18 years later, a documentary goes behind the scenes to unravel how a young indie filmmaker got his shot at Hollywood big time, and what was a dream project became every filmmaker and studio's worst nightmare.
A sort of surreal affair, 'Lost Soul' mixes brand new interviews (the big draw being the notoriously elusive Stanley), archive footage and photos/concept art to tell of how this young British talent tried to fulfill a lifelong dream to adapt and update Wells' tale of science gone awry, and damn is it engrossing. There are no holds barred and spades are called spades as the cast (and many different crew, from ADs to managers to even extras) recall just how much of a hell things were, even in pre-production, as well as the pain that was Brando, replacement director Frankenheimer, and especially Kilmer. Stanley himself, with his deep voice and unusual appearance, a sort of hybrid of Indiana Jones and a voodoo shaman, is fascinating to watch as tells his misadventure with a slight hint of bitterness but also a sort of sage wisdom about it.
Of course, director David Gregory is smart enough to not let this turn into just one big slog of talking heads. He regularly breaks it up with an assortment of visual treats, including the magnificently disturbing concept art and storyboards for Stanley's original vision, archive footage of the shoot and the grotesque makeup effects of the beast people, even new material recorded at the now overgrown location. The whole thing is underscored by a sinister soundtrack that adds to the nightmarish feel as you journey on and more and more goes wrong, even on occasion referencing witchcraft and unusual phenomena.
In terms of complaints, I don't really have many, save for maybe the lack of remastering of some archive footage, the soundtrack can sometimes go a little over the tip, and the film does taper off towards the end and doesn't dwell on the film's reception and legacy as much as I would've liked. However, it is firmly Stanley's story, and a great watch for fans of film and filmmakers.
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