Thursday, July 13, 2006

Final Peril

Many of you are, I'm sure, plenty finished hearing about Gwendoline, my obsession of the week.

I did watch the new DVD of the 106 minute version of the movie and I liked it. I liked it a lot. I had some anticipation in the hopes that the longer cut and lovely transfer would make it what I'd hoped all those years ago... aside from having a plentiful supply of naked women.

The problem with many of these multi-national co-productions is that put a lot of effort into trying to make their movies seem to be something that they're not. In this case, this movie is definitely a European movie by a European filmmaker, no amount of cutting was ever going to make it feel American.

I watched it this time in French. Director Just Jaekin does note in the commentary that this was shot without direct sound, like many European movies including nearly all Italian movie until very recently, and so the French track wouldn't be any more correct than the English language track, however, in comparing them, I found it less heavy-handed. I can't say if this was because it really is or I'm just unable to recognize wooden dialogue readings in French.

The rhythm is slower this way, but funnier. Jaekin himself complains that the intentional humor was one of the things the US distributor specifically cut out. It's also smarter and sexier.

Ok. I'm not making a real comparison here. I'm comparing a very recent experience to a memory that's certainly well over a decade past and part of the difference could simply be my much greater understanding and appreciation of European genre movies has developed quite a bit in the ensuing years.

Honestly, aside from some weird and abrupt transitions from desert to jungle back to desert and such, I didn't find anything here I found poor. I was even impressed at the lack of the usually inevidible kookaburra laughter in the jungle scenes.

The Yik Yak of the American title, The Perils of Gwendoline in the Land of the Yik Yak, is written as "Yek Yeik" in the subtitles and is clearly pronounced that way on both the English and French tracks. It's a subtle difference, but does seem a much more plausible lost Asian land. And, yes, it's "The Land of Yek Yeik", another of those ill-placed definite articles that change the meaning significantly... at least most people should see this difference, unlike that one at the beginning of Frank Darabont's The Shawshank Redemption that I hate with such a firey vengeance and everyone else shrugs and refuses to understand how it changes the meaning and... Oh, I'm offtrack, huh?

It's not the type of movie you're likely to enjoy if you don't think "Cool!" when you see a guy get his ears cut off by being abruptly yanked through jail bars or "That's an interesting touch" when the captain of the guard in the mysterious land of S&M women is identified with one exposed boob. I know there is a contingency of people, with whom I have absolutely no common ground nor do I even per se respect, who consider things stupid in themselves.

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