It had Tom Cruise, unicorns, and the director of Blade Runner behind the camera. Why did Ridley Scott’s fairy tale end so unhappily? By Ed Power (Click Tim Curry’s adorable villain above to read the whole article, commentary after the jump)
+Commentary: This movie rocked my world, while even then I’d have recognized it was terribly flawed. What it was not — was another Hollywood piece of trash, and solely on the provenance of my love for Alien & Blade Runner, there I was opening night at the local theater. 1986 Films it was competing with are below, so you get a sense of the ‘competition:’
Even to this day, many years removed from me seeing it for the last time. It still holds a power, a mythic relationship to my psychic senses. The things about the movie that seemed off, or didn’t sit well to my viewing in the theater were easily blamed on a Studio System that tinkered with the movie and focus-grouped it right up until release. The movie had such imagination and verve it was not like anything else that was in theaters that year. It was another world, a fantasy and it was unapologetically adult. My biggest critique (especially after reading …the Making of) was that it wasn’t sexual enough, or adult & sexual enough. In Hollywood, violence often stands in for sublimated sexuality, and was pervasive in the movies that year, any that were PG or R.
Really this level of fantasy, common place now, or more frequent was really unseen until Guillermo Del Toro took us into Pan’s Labyrinth. Surely I’m forgetting something or some great movie, but that was the next time it occurred to me, personally. You had things like Labyrinth or even Dark Crystal, but those were aimed really at a younger market, even though adults enjoyed them more and have insured they’ve become cult classics.
This sort of adult fantasy has been supplanted by vampires & superhero movies it seems. Yet there is very few that take you into a perfectly formed other dimension or world. It is a time capsule of hope, of longing, of a world that was not quite what it seemed. Coming as it did during the 80’s chock full of franchisable action movies & teen-coming-of-age romcoms was a breath of fresh air for an adult (with an imagination). Not that those things or the ones listed above in the picture are bad, they are just like the pre-packaged food which has become more prevalent now than it was in the eighties, this film feels artisanal to use today’s parlance.
With all the flaws, both then, and maybe not if I watched it recently, but now ~ can easily be seen in other stand out films, that dared to be different and in the ensuing process get molded & shaped, tinkered & toyed with by Hollywood executives who obviously wanted a movie that cost as little to make but would bring in box office gold. Strangely after looking up the statistics at BoxOfficeMojo.com the movie actually did very well for two weeks, holding the #1 spot. Even adjusted for inflation it looks like a good weekend in 2015 for a middling movie with no competition. Also the movie only was in theaters for 4 weeks, which even for the time seems relatively short by today’s standards, or even the standards of the time.
That said, this movie will remain in a special place in my heart, that signaled a real thirst for entertainment of the adult variety that was in the fantasy oeuvre While it might not hold up, have had tons of stark issues, I’m more optimistic than the person who wrote the article for the Telegraph. Click the link below to read some rather interesting behind-the-scenes which shed some light on it. Certainly given the rather strange trajectory that Ridley Scott (and his own legendary status) has taken, with the near utter collapse, tone-deaf, and white-washed ‘Gods of Egypt’ he just released, it is worth remembering when he aspired to make art house films with more heart & soul, than Hollywood special effects, and box office ‘draw.’