Slow, Haunting Dream Film
Steve Mobia | Brisbane, CA United States | 11/23/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Though I was more impressed with this movie when it had it's theatrical debut in the early 1980s, I still recommend this mysterious mood piece. The DVD transfer is great and some care went into the menu and chapter selections. The story concerns a quiet middle aged woman (Julie Christie) living alone during some catastrophic breakdown of modern society. Young illiterate kids live like rats in the subways, garbage covers the streets and nomadic people scavenge in aimless traveling groups. The woman is given a young teenage girl (Leonie Mellinger) to take care of and the girl becomes sexually involved with a young man who takes on the task of caring for homeless children (while he simultaneously sleeps with them). Alongside this melancholic tale, there's another dimension revealed when the woman descovers a victorian family living inside a strange membranous wall of her apartment. There are curious psychological parallels between the world in the wall and the goings-on in the woman's other dystopian world. The final scenes are truly wierd and puzzling so if you like your movies straightforward with tidy narratives, this one isn't for you. For those who enjoy the bizarre and challenging, take a look. My only real criticism is the truly awful synth soundtrack (by Mike Thorne-any relation to Ken?) which constantly works against the imagery."
Disjointed, Erratic and Confusing
Artist & Author | Near Mt. Baker, WA | 04/22/2007
(2 out of 5 stars)
"My impression of this movie is that it seems to have been a six-hour mini-series that was cut down to 116 minutes, and not too successfully. The only plausible reason I can see for its utterly confusing and disjointed scenes would be that they were trying to create the uncertainty one would feel in a society recently disrupted by some cataclysmic event. If there is any sort of plot, it is the attempt of a young man to try to care for the orphaned children. He wants Emily to help him in this endeavor; however, it seems that every time they get together they engage in sex, even when the little kids are in the room with them! Then, they sort of break up when the guy wants to take in some feral children, or at least children who live like they were brought up by some wild animal.
What the Victorian scenes have to do with the story is anybody's guess. Some would suggest that it is some sort of fantasy Julie Christie is having. Whatever the purpose of the Victorian scenes, twice they resort to nakedness. Once is with a decidedly unsexy middle age, heavy woman stripping completely naked. The second is when four-year-old Emily is sleeping, and her night gown has risen up; she turns over on her back, fully exposed from mid-chest down, and some man, presumably her father, covers her up. If they needed to show fully naked children, it would seem to me to have been much more understandable to have a group bath of the filthy urchins that joined the children's group. Little Emily coming uncovered, and being tucked in by a loving parent isn't anything any parent of a preschool daughter hasn't had naturally happen; it is that it just didn't seem to have anything to do with the catastrophe of the movie.
My conclusion is that this movie is too disjointed and erratic to be of much use in raising any personal or social issues that could be discussed. After watching the movie one is much more likely to be asking what was that all about instead of discussing or thinking about some edifying issue it raises."
Decent Enough Lessing Adaptation
L. S. Slaughter | Chapel Hill, NC | 03/02/2002
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Not many Lessing novels make it to the screen, and David Gladwell adpated this one back in 1981. While no one could be better cast than Julie Christie, the film suffers from Gladwell's lacklustre but competent direction and realization. It's one of those novels that is very personal, and plays better in the imagination than on the screen, especially when it comes to depicting the feral children. The electronic score seems misplaced until the last strains, and film remains as oblique as the book, which is good. Watch it for Christie - luminous as always - but read the novel beforehand."
Ambivalent and holding
Steve Mobia | 10/05/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)
"doris lessing is my favorite author, i turn to her shikasta series when things get really tough and i need to have a long term view. it is my understanding that "memoirs" was written in response to her editors request for an autobiography. i have read the book a number of times and still have to think about the ending. this is why a rating of three stars, i suppose for some people that would be reason for a five star (at least it makes her think)this film is perfect for the time we live in as her time could become our time, after september 11, ase as we say. in this film there is no sense of safety, there is no sense of continuity, there is no sense. it is the "end of time" for what may be civil society in a small area of england. i intend to have "viewing parties" for my friends. bleak views can be mitigated in unexpected ways...and, there is re assurance in numbers.thanks"