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Bad filmage

Went to see The Village last night with redkitty23, Cat, Darcy and Rose. To be honest, I'm so preoccupied with house-moving preparations right now, that I arrived at the cinema not even really knowing what the film was about, but once reminded and shown a poster, I was reasonably optimistic. Strange isolated village community, scary things in the woods, and the direction of M. 'Night' Shyamalan (honestly, why doesn't he just call himself "M. Spooky Shyamalan"?) promising some kind of twist at the end: why, it could even turn out as a kind of Wicker Man meets Sleepy Hollow extravaganza.

Wrong! In fact it turned out to be by far the worst film I can remember seeing in quite some considerable time. And I include in that Van Helsing, which I also had the extreme displeasure of seeing earlier this summer. I would say it was, in fact, worse than Hammer's The Gorgon, and anyone who's seen that will know exactly what I mean: it is pretty much my standard yard-stick for film badness. I am not going to list every single way in which it was bad, because it is quicker to say there wasn't anything about it, at all, that was any good. I'm afraid that redkitty23 and I sat through most of it alternately giggling and sighing at just how fantastically bad it was. My advice: don't see it. Not even if it's being shown on TV and you are bored. In fact, even if it's on TV and you're lying in bed with a broken leg, you would be better advised to spend your time counting the patterns on the wallpaper. I will never go to a 'Spooky' Shyamalan film again, and I'm glad to say that the huge auditorium in the Magdalen St. Odeon was only about 1/4 full for this one.

By comparison, King Arthur, which I saw the previous Friday, also with redkitty23, was a work of cinematic genius. That statement is only valid in the context of the comparison with The Village, though. Happily, I don't need to spend too long fretting about just what was wrong with this one historically speaking, because swisstone has already done an extremely good job of that. I'll only add that my personal biggest gripe with the film in terms of historical plausibility was the representation of Hadrian's Wall, which looked so unlike what Hadrian's Wall would have looked like, either at that time, or at any other time in its existence, that I didn't even realise that was what it was supposed to be until about 3/4 of the way through the film. (I had assumed it was supposed to be another fortress before that).

Still, at least King Arthur was mildly entertaining (if rather plot-weak), and had occasional nice-looking shots: e.g. the lone Arthur, on horseback, in full armour and carrying a tattered banner, silhouetted on a hill top stamping defiance at the Saxon army. Its problems would, largely speaking, have been solved if they had removed the text at the start of the film claiming that it was a historically-accurate portrayal, based on the 'agreement' of historians that King Arthur really existed and 'recent archaeological discoveries' (what discoveries? The scratched letters 'Artognov' on a stone in Cornwall? Come on!), and replaced it with a text saying that no-one really knows if Arthur existed or who he was, but that this is their imaginative take on the story.

Oh, and we were utterly baffled by the death of Lancelot (that's once we'd got over the idea of a Sarmatian soldier having a medieval French name like 'Lancelot' in the first place), which blew any chance of the whole 'love triangle' thing between him, Guinevere and Arthur. I mean, if you are going to have a character with that name in the film at all, surely that is the main reason for him being there? Yes, there had been a few little looks between him and Guinevere before he died, but the whole story of their love eventually dividing and bringing down the whole Arthurian court and everything it stood for and protected is just too good to throw away by killing him off. All they needed to do was keep him alive (killing someone else off in the battle instead for emotional-impact points), and then have some significant glances exchanged between him and Guinevere at the wedding, to hint at dark things to come in the future. Simple and effective, you'd think, but apparently not.

Still, enough ranting. I have the rest of the day to write a review of a 750-page long Italian book I have only really skimmed through so far, so I had better get down to it.

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swisstone
Aug. 29th, 2004 05:12 am (UTC)
what discoveries?

One of the film magazines (I think Empire in its fluff piece mentioned some inscription with 'Arturus Rex' and a list of warriors' names. But this inscription is proving rather elusive.
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