Monday, August 19, 2013


A 50-year truce in a global war has been breached; war has continued and various illnesses are laying waste to the populace. A young couple (Marco Margine and Anne Wiazemsky, pictured) at the airport see TV screens playing footage of the war and head out to the countryside to escape. Along the way, after driving through a particularly long tunnel, they see a schoolbus stopped in the middle of the road with everyone on it dead of the plague. Soon they are stopped by a patrol, checked for signs of plague, and told to leave their car and head off on foot and find a new home. At the seashore, they find a beach house whose owner’s dead body is sprawled out in a chair on the front porch. They set up housekeeping there with Margine turning the house into a museum with, among other things, a typewriter and a huge wheel of cheese on a pedestal. Margine wants a child but Wiazemsky doesn’t want to bring a new life into the world. They encounter a black-shirted paramilitary group on horseback who tell them that procreation is their duty; later, when another woman (Annie Giradot) comes by, flirts with Margine and eventually has sex with him, but the jealous Wiazemsky beats her to death, cuts off her leg, and serves it up for dinner that night.

You probably don’t need any more plot summary to decide if this Italian film is your cup of post-apocalyptic tea. The journey-to-the-sea trope reminds me of Cormac McCarthy's recent book The Road (I haven't seen the movie) and the last half of GLEN AND RANDA. Directed by Marco Ferreri and made on the cheap, the film has very few special effects—war footage is obviously black & white newsreel film from WWII—and very little gory make-up (except in two short scenes). There is a gigantic washed-up dead whale (yes, it's a Moby Dick symbol) and a nice moment when the couple see a blimp in the sky and assume it's help on the way but it's actually a Merry Christmas ad for Pepsi. The ending is frustrating on both a narrative and symbolic level. For fans of 60s and/or end-of-the-world films only. [DVD]

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