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Echoes of myth : the feature films of John Boorman Johnson, Peter Wilton 1984

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ECHOES OF MYTH THE FEATURE FILMS OF JOHN BOORMAN By PETER WILTON JOHNSON M.A. The Uni v e r s i t y of B r i t i s h Columbia, 1984 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTERS OF ARTS in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES Department of Theatre We accept t h i s t h e s i s as conforming to the required standard THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA September, 1984 © Peter Wilton Johnson, 1984 In p r e s e n t i n g t h i s t h e s i s i n p a r t i a l f u l f i l m e n t of the requirements f o r an advanced degree a t the U n i v e r s i t y o f B r i t i s h Columbia, I agree t h a t the L i b r a r y s h a l l make i t f r e e l y a v a i l a b l e f o r r e f e r e n c e and study. I f u r t h e r agree t h a t p e r m i s s i o n f o r e x t e n s i v e copying of t h i s t h e s i s f o r s c h o l a r l y purposes may be granted by the head o f my department or by h i s or her r e p r e s e n t a t i v e s . I t i s understood t h a t copying or p u b l i c a t i o n of t h i s t h e s i s f o r f i n a n c i a l gain s h a l l not be allowed without my w r i t t e n p e r m i s s i o n . Department o f The U n i v e r s i t y of B r i t i s h Columbia 1956 Main Mall Vancouver, Canada V6T 1Y3 7 DE-6 (3/81) i i ABSTRACT A l l e i g h t f e a t u r e f i l m s (1965-1981) of John Boorman were viewed and analyzed according to Auteur Theory. The recondite themes and motifs found throughout h i s work revealed a preoccupationwwith character and events in the G r a i l legend. Thematically, Boorman's rendering of the Arthurian p r otagonist revealed him in the modern context of the p r i v a t e eye, the s o l d i e r , the defrocked p r i e s t , the d i s p l a c e d a r i s t o c r a t , and the wilderness adventurer. Merlin f i g u r e s , and women f i g u r e s i n t r i n s i c t o the G r a i l legend appear in a l l h i s work. A e s t h e t i c a l l y Boorman's f e a t u r e f i l m s are v e i l e d a l l e g o r i e s of the Arthurian quest. Those recondite s t y l i s t i c elements as a b s t r a c t framing, colour d i s t o r t i o n , e l l i p t i c a l e d i t i n g , and overlapped and e l e c t r o n i c sound were found to modify the cinematic conventions of those genres in which he worked. Boorman's mise-en-scene often approached the s u r r e a l . His a c t i o n hovered between the world of s l a p s t i c k , and the world of dream. The world-view t h a t emerged from these f e a t u r e - f i l m s makes,. Boorman a r e l i g i o u s e x i s t e n t i a l i s t , or an Immanentist. TABLE OF CONTENTS ABSTRACT i i TABLE OF CONTENTS i i i ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS iv PREFACE Notes on the C r i t i c a l Method v CHAPTER ONE : Dying Gods and Transformations 1 CHAPTER TWO : Boorman's Twentieth-Century Mythic Vision 13 CHAPTER THREE : Aesthet ics: An Overview 39 CHAPTER FOUR : "Having a Wild Weekend" (1965) 47 CHAPTER FIVE : "Point Blank" (1967) 64 CHAPTER SIX : "Hel l in the P a c i f i c " (1968) 84 CHAPTER SEVEN : "Leo the Last" (1970) 102 CHAPTER EIGHT : "Deliverance" (1972) 116 CHAPTER NINE : "Zardoz" (1973) 140 CHAPTER TEN : "Exorcist I I : The Heretic" (1977) 158 CHAPTER ELEVEN: "Excalibur" (1981) 173 CONCLUSION : Boorman as Immanentist 187 FOOTNOTES 195 BIBLIOGRAPHY 201 FILMOGRAPHY 207 iv ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Many people helped me in t h i s study of John Boorman. Pr imar i ly , those who helped me obtain his f i lms for extended periods of c r i t i c a l viewing must receive top b i l l i n g . Carol Burgoyne of Bellevue, Anne Pope of Canfilm, Roily Richard and Diane Overbo of Warner Brothers, Pearl Williams of P a c i f i c Cinematheque, a l l of Vancouver, gave me access to f i l m s , without which there would be no thes i s . Donn Andresen of Brandon University Film Service, Brandon, Manitoba allowed me use of one of Boorman's early documentaries. Eddie White of United A r t i s t s C l a s s i c s , Toronto, provided me with a rare 35 mm pr int of "Leo the Last . " Michael MeGee, technician in the University of B r i t i s h Columbia's Film Department provided me with a room, projector , and Steenbeck editor when necessary. Val Almendarez, of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Los Angeles, provided useful biographical information. George Toles and Frank Burke, professors of Film at the University of Manitoba, inspired me, and nurtured my interest in f i l m c r i t i c i s m . Professors John Newton and Joan Reynertson of the Film Department at the University of B r i t i s h Columbia sharpened that in te rest . Laurie Meeker, Deborah Ba i l l i e , and Fred Holl ingshurst made me be c lea r . Eve Lazarus painstakingly typed t h i s manuscript. Jocelyn brought sunshine, w i t , and warmth to the Black Hole. V PREFACE: NOTES ON THE CRITICAL METHOD Auteur c r i t i c i s m is valuable. It had a major influence upon other c r i t i c a l methods. Its greatest impact was upon Structural ism. Like the l i t e r a r y c r i t i c i s m of R.W.B. Leavis, Structural ism saw i t s e l f a s mediator between the f i l m and the audience, between text and meaning. Structural ism sought an •immanent meaning, a centre, a core within a f i l m by u t i l i z i n g archetypal and soc ia l elements. It vigorously denied the primacy of the d i rector as creator . For Structural ism, the language of f i l m i t s e l f , the language of v isual signs could be codi f ied into providing meaning to the ever-changing flow of f i l m images. The idiosyncracies of form or method were as a l ien to the S t ruc tu ra l i s t c r i t i c as were s i g n i f i e r s to the Auteur. Structural ism, and i t s related theory semiotics, was a means for invest igat ing the re lat ionship between art and cu l ture . Auteur theoriz ing sought to go beyond the role of icon and a r t i f a c t , and to investigate the re lat ionship between the a r t i s t and product. Although generally disavowing cu l tu ra l inf luences, Auteur c r i t i c i s m did place a d i rec to r , by v i r tue of the chronological parameters of his work, within a s p e c i f i c cu l tu ra l context. It i s easy to see for example, that Howard Hawks'•attitude toward women in "Bringing up Baby" and "Gentle-men Prefer Blondes is markedly d i f ferent from Woody A l l e n ' s view of women in "Manhattan" or "Annie Ha l l " some twenty- f ive years l a te r . Such general-izat ions are usefu l , not only in revealing the changing soc ia l mores within the history of the cinema, but in also revealing the emphasis placed upon these mores by various d i rectors who l ived and worked in a par t icu la r time. vi Methodology Auteur criticism seeks to isolate a director's vision and aesthetic as 2 revealed in a l l his films. As Peter Wollen has written, i t seeks "to uncover behind the superficial contrasts of subject and treatment, a hard 3 core of basic and often recondite motifs." Used c r i t i c a l l y , Auteur criticism must begin with a close textual analysis. As such the following three questions provided the impetus for the detailed criticism of each film in this study. Namely: 1. What is Boorman's imagination trying to achieve in a particular film? 2. To what extent is that vision evident beyond specific cultural or studio influences, and common in a l l his films? 3. What unique aesthetic does Boorman's imagination generate in order to reveal his vision? John Boorman made eight feature films in a period of some fifteen years. As such, and as in a l l narrative works of art, his films operate on the level of value. Auteur criticism sees those components as character, setting, sound effects, etc., as express various states of emotional worth. Patterns and relationships are seen not only as f u l f i l l i n g the requirements of a particular narrative, but also evolving into a uniquely personal vision. It is assumed therefore, that characters in Boorman's films are more than simply "people-;" Events are more than simply bits of plot, and settings more than collections of objects. All are elements that express values and relationships. These relationships are evident, and evolve throughout the whole of Boorman's canon. Auteur criticism also must assume that Boorman places artifacts and certain s t y l i s t i c devices within his films because he believes they belong there. Auteur criticism is concerned v i i with the in tegr i ty and coherence of each of his works yet , these elements must also be seen to be interconnected with other elements in other works. As such they belong to a narrat ive process that taken together reveals Boorman to possess a unique s ty le that expresses a l imited though genuinely f e l t hope for man. Thesis It is the intent of t h i s study to show that the feature f i lms of the Br i t i sh -born d i rector John Boorman contain elements that are a contemporary rendering of his long-time preoccupation with the Arthurian legend. Besides his interpretat ion of the seminal legend in "Excalibur" (1981), Arthurian characters and themes are present in a l l of Boorman's feature f i l m s . The magician Merlin i s transformed as Lazlo in "Leo the Last" (1970), Arthur Frayn in "Zardoz" (1973), Yost in "Point Blank" (1967), and Ecumenical Edwards in "Exorcist II" (1977). Morgana, Arthur 's h a l f - s i s t e r of the Gra i l legend, surfaces as Lynn in "Point Blank" (1967), Avalow in "Zardoz" (1973), Jean Tuskin in "Exorcist II" (1977), and even Bobby in "Deliverance" (1972). The knight questors such as Arthur, Perceval, and Lancelot, become rendered into the modern pr ivate-eye, the so ld ie r , the defrocked p r i e s t , the displaced a r i s t o c r a t , and the wilderness adventurer. The quest theme i s basic to a l l western l i t e r a t u r e , and basic to Boorman's v i s i o n . In revealing Arthurian themes and characters in Boorman's f i l m s , i t i s the intent of t h i s thesis to reveal Boorman's v i s ion as that of a par t icu la r kind of re l ig ious e x i s t e n t i a l i s t . God is absent from Boorman's work, but the transcendent i s not. Boorman is an Immanentist. He sees the transcendent not as a s p i r i t u a l force outside of man, but v i i i i nherent in him. As such, Boorman's v i s i o n i s both sacred and profane. His p r o t a g o n i s t s hover between the world of v i o l e n c e and c a t a t o n i a . The echoes of the A r t h u r i a n legend t h a t s u r f a c e in Boorman's work are at the same time a l l i e d t o c e r t a i n preoccupations with American c u l t u r e . The notion of the wi l d e r n e s s , war, and the c i t y , become mythic elements i n h i s t h r e e American f e a t u r e s , "Point Blank" (1962), " H e l l i n the P a c i f i c " (1968), and "D e l i v e r a n c e " (1972). These elements Boorman renders i n t o a v i s u a l ambience t h a t makes h i s landscapes u n n a t u r a l . As such the v i o l e n c e t h a t e l e c t r i f i e s h i s work o f t e n takes place in a subterranean, s u r r e a l world. Hence, much of Boorman !s work i s a l l e g o r i c a l . Those r e c o n d i t e s t y l i s t i c elements such as h i s use of a b s t r a c t framing, c a r e f u l c o n t r o l of c o l o u r , e l l i p t i c a l e d i t i n g , and overlapped and e l e c t r o n i c sound, m o d i f i e s the conventions of those genres in which he works.- The amalgam of mythic elements t h a t echoes throughout Boorman's work r e v e a l s him t o be an innovator who e x p l o r e s and extends the language of commercial cinema. Though not always s u c c e s s f u l , Boorman's f i l m s r e v e a l him to be a modernist whose preoccupation with the Quest gives h i s work a c l e a r r e l i g i o u s dimension. i x . f o r Helen Gully •6 1 CHAPTER ONE: DYING GODS AND THE SEARCH FOR TRANSCENDENCE The f i lms of John Boorman are replete with the echoes of the Grai l myth. Yet the unbelievable events of the twentieth century--war, depression, mass murder, and the p o s s i b i l i t y of the annih i lat ion of mankind—provided for Boorman an h o r r i f i c , i ron ic counter to his boyhood fasc inat ion for the adventure he found in T.E. White's version of the Arthurian Legend. 1 The violence inherent in the Gra i l myth was born of a moral imperative, a drive to reassert the Divine. Good and Ev i l were c lea r l y d ist inguishable . Man's a b i l i t y to understand and control his universe was based on the assurance of Fa i th . Boorman's childhood in London during World War II saw the innocent and the g u i l t y perish together. He retains p a r t i c u l a r l y graphic memories of the London B l i t z . "The f i r s t thing I remember is v io lence, bombing, and 2 people being carr ied away on st retchers . " In such a c l imate, even the f a i t h and reason of his early Jesui t education could not camouflage the f a i l u r e of a r a t i o n a l i s t or a Chr ist ian ideology. These antinomies of absolute i n t r i n s i c v io lence, of the moral imperative born of myth and dogma, and the f u l l - b l o o d i e d entertainment contained in the Arthurian adventures, surface in a l l of Boorman's feature f i l m s . It i s the intent of t h i s thesis to show how Boorman's transformation and rendering of Arthurian themes in the modern contexts of the gangster, the s c i e n c e - f i c t i o n , war, and comedy f i l m , reveal a p a r t i c u l a r l y unique e x i s t e n t i a l v is ion of man. Moreover such a world-view modified the aesthetic conventions of those genres in which he worked. 2 The E x i s t e n t i a l i s t View From the analysis of Boorman's work, Boorman is not s t r i c t l y a secular e x i s t e n t i a l i s t . To deny the existence of God outright as do the secular e x i s t e n t i a l i s t s such as Neitzsche and Sartre, would mean fo r Boorman to 3 negate the question of meaning i t s e l f . Boorman's v i s i o n , I intend to show, is that the div ine element in man has played a part in his h is tory . Man is not resurrected in the f i lms of John Boorman, yet he i s not without mystery. Boorman is a p o s t - l i b e r a l man who confronts a p o s t - l i b e r a l God. For Boorman, the mysterious i s not the same as the absurd. It i s necessary f i r s t , however, to put forward a br ie f d e f i n i t i o n of phi losophical (secular) ex is tent ia l i sm such that the meaning of the Gra i l Legend, and Boorman's rendering of i t in his f i l m s , can be seen to r e f l e c t i t s inf luence. A purely e x i s t e n t i a l view of man would hold that existence is neither a reasonable nor a God-given time. It is simply a f a c t , a given. An e x i s t e n t i a l i s t in response, would seek to give meaning to existence ent i re l y out of his own resources. He would not re ly on the external providential scheme of a d i v i n i t y , : or even upon natural law or soc ia l custom. The only given fo r an e x i s t e n t i a l i s t i s that man is not an a r t i f a c t ; he is a being, and in that being, he is f ree . The divine creator could not ex is t fo r an e x i s t e n t i a l i s t . Faith in such a creator would be bad f a i t h , in that i t would allow for the evasion of human r e s p o n s i b i l i t y , and the means to deny working to overcome personal misery, and that of mankind. This ethic of act ion , however, fo r an e x i s t e n t i a l i s t could not be grounded in hope, fo r hope l i k e f a i t h would be considered an i l l u s i o n . An e x i s t e n t i a l i s t , by d e f i n i t i o n , must re ject a l l pretence and i l l u s i o n . An e x i s t e n t i a l i s t is not a r a t i o n a l i s t fo r the brute facts of existence he knows would not be 3 discern ib le through l o g i c . Existence for the e x i s t e n t i a l i s t i s not reasonable; i t i s only a given. Inevitably, the "pure" e x i s t e n t i a l i s t who seeks to j u s t i f y his l i f e by i n t e l l e c t u a l , emotional, or exper ient ia l terms is doomed to f a i l u r e . For the e x i s t e n t i a l i s t , man l i ves simply to d ie . He is f ree , but constrained by h istory . His choices are choices between the lesser of e v i l s . Certainty or perpetual doubt are extremes of existence he must re jec t . For the e x i s t e n t i a l i s t , l i f e simply i s absurd . 4 The e x i s t e n t i a l i s t challenge, neither to withdraw completely in negation nor to soar in the delusion of rat iona l optimist grandeur, i s d i f f i c u l t . It has been met in various ways throughout h istory by various wr i te rs . An e x i s t e n t i a l view of l i f e ca l led for courage and in tegr i ty in the face of the givenness of existence. Strangely out of a reaction to a re l ig ious dogma that was f e l t to be l i t t l e more than a pretext fo r evading the burden of an i l l u s i o n l e s s existence, the e x i s t e n t i a l i s t once again made commitment acceptable. For the e x i s t e n t i a l i s t r e l i g i o n kept man from ultimate decision-making from which true f a i t h could emerge. Such a r e l i g i o n only shielded man from his real se l f and his real f a i t h . Any system of worship that allowed for less was considered hypocrisy. I r on ica l l y , when f a i t h had been dismissed by sophisticated men for centur ies, the secular e x i s t e n t i a l i s t ca l led again fo r commitment. Strangely, the c a l l made by those re l ig ious and l i t e r a r y e x i s t e n t i a l i s t s of today such as Beckett, Ionesco, Albee, and N i c o l , was not unl ike the c a l l made by those writers of the Arthurian Romances during the thirteenth 5 and fourteenth centur ies. " Chretien de Troyes in France and Thomas Malory in B r i t a i n wrote compilations of s tor ies about the knights of the Round Table. Based upon e a r l i e r C e l t i c myths and r i t u a l s , these medieval wr i ters 4 transformed and enriched the "adventures" with the s p i r i t of t h e i r own insp i ra t ion . Chretian and Malory did not consider themselves writers of f i c t i o n . ^ Their task, a cross between wr i t ing an encyclopedia and a novel, explored subt let ies of character and p lo t . Like the structure of the modern novel or play, Le Morte D'Arthur investigated the psychology of heroes who had to act with honour, courage and commitment in a world in which feudal obl igations were being threatened by g e n t i l i t y , comfort, and pretense. Like the l i t e r a r y e x i s t e n t i a l i s t s of the twentieth century, the:'.authors of the Arthurian Romances sought to awaken mankind to an authentic existence.^ The content of that commitment ca l led for a f a i t h in God. The meaningless-ness of a man's l i f e taken so le ly in i t s own terms, i s , too, the basis of much recent e x i s t e n t i a l l i t e r a t u r e . The f i lms of John Boorman are an amalgam of t h i s medieval, yet strangely modern view. King Arthur and the Gra i l The name King Arthur has s t i r r e d the poetic imagination for some f i f t e e n centur ies. Legend placed him in the remote and misty C e l t i c darkness. Myth ideal ized his l i f e as founder of the Round Table where from Camelot he rode with his knights to seek glory and the G r a i l . The ta les of the Round Table gave shape to the great themes of love, and war, and f a i t h , that were Middle Ages. Arthur, Mer l in , Guinevere, Lancelot, Galahad, Tristram and Iseult are characters whose explo i ts s t i l l echo with romance to th i s day. When the ta les burst onto' - the l i t e r a r y scene of Europe in the twelfth century, they soon paled the popular epics of Charlemonge, and the Roman o legends of Troy, Arneas, and Alexander the Great. Based upon real people and real events in h is tory , they were not just adventures; they were 5 i nsp i r i ng . The Tales of the Round Table showed how real men and real 9 women could l i v e better l i ves in a l imited and imperfect world. Like b i b l i c a l parables, they explicated an understanding. Like most romances, the story of King Arthur and the Round Table is a tragedy. Arthur 's l i f e was doomed at the outset. Born under a spe l l cast by Merl in the magician, and raised to kingship by strangers, Arthur 's wife Guinevere and his best f r iend Lancelot f a l l passionately in love. Lancelot and Guinevere ruin Arthur 's l i f e . They plunge his kingdom into c i v i l war and destroy the fel lowship of the Round Table. While t ry ing to salvage his ruined kingdom, he is betrayed by his bastard son Mordred. Fata l ly wounded by him, he is carr ied to Avalon by his h a l f - s i s t e r , the seductive Morgana,, ( le Fay) to return m i r a c l e - l i k e in his country's most desperate hour of need. The s tor ies that Boorman read in T.E. White's The Once and Future King as a c h i l d are v i v i d interpretations of Malory's f i f teenth-century Le Morte  D 1Arthur. White's account of several ta les including "The Boar of Cornwall", "The Sword in the Stone"and "Perceval ," reveal the-miraculous and the iconoclast ic elements that Boorman readi ly transforms in his f i l m s . Before interpret ing the t a l e s , i t would be inst ruct ive to b r i e f l y recount White's rendering of them. The Boar of Cornwall Uther Pendragon succeeds his brother Aurelius as ..king of England by defeating the marauding Saxons. At the feast of celebration in London, Uther i s struck with passionate desire for Igraine, the most beauti ful woman 6 in the realm. Ingraine i s , however, married to Gor lo is , king of Cornwall and loyal subject of Uther. Sensing d isquiet , Gorlois returns to Cornwall with Igraine, and refuses to be summoned. Uther i s furious and invades Cornwall. Tormented by his passion for Igraine, Uther consults with Merl in the magician who gives him a potion to make him look l i k e Gor lo is . In th i s d isguise, Uther enters Tintagel and Igraine's bed and, that night conceives Arthur. That same night, Gor lo is , who has remained with his troops outside Tintagel , i s k i l l e d . Soon a f t e r / U t h e r and Igraine are married. The Sword in the Stone Merl in claims the c h i l d , names him, and has him raised ignorant of his true parents, by a knight ca l led Hector. At F i f teen , some th i r teen years after Uther's death, Merl in summons the n o b i l i t y of the realm,..promising them a change from the uneasy, interregnum with the r i g h t f u l heir who would pu l l the sword he has frozen within the stone. Many knights of the realm t ry in vain to pu l l the sword, Excal ibur, from the stone. The youthful ... Arthur eas i l y pu l l s i t out. Merlin reveals to the astonished knights the secret of Arthur 's b i r t h . The knights d iscla im the bastard boy-king, yet Arthur 's prowess and years of hard f ight ing bring them to heel . Once king and with Mer l in 's advice, Arthur s o l i d i f i e s his kingdom, and gains some infamy in manhood. After one bat t le a g i r l , by.onors, bears him a bastard son. Having met Guinevere whom he promises to marry, he has an a f f a i r with Morgana, wife of his subdued enemy Loth, and Arthur 's unknown own h a l f - s i s t e r . Merl in t e l l s Arthur he w i l l have a son Mdrdred, born on .'.May pay by Morgana, who w i l l destroy the Round Table. Like Herod, Arthur decrees that a l l chi ldren born on th i s day should per ish . Like Moses, Mordred is 7 saved by a storm and is cast upon a distant shore. Meanwhile Lancelot has f a l l e n in love with Arthur 's wife Guinevere. They sleep together the night Arthur betrays Guinevere in the bed of the seductress Camil le. Guinevere rea l i zes that her s in w i l l prevent Lancelot from achieving the G r a i l . Guinevere does not keep Lancelot from act ion. Her love inspires him to heroism. Yet Morgana, h a l f - s i s t e r of Arthur, adds to Lancelot 's c o n f l i c t i n g loya l t ies between Arthur and Guinevere. Hating Arthur, Morgana sends him a r ing Guinevere had given Lancelot as proof of t h e i r a f f a i r . In another instance, Lancelot is t r i cked (as was Uther) by an enchant-ress to sleep with E la ine, v i rg in daughter of Pe l l es . E la ine 's son Galahad grew up to surpass his father in batt le and to win the G r a i l . Perceval, searching fo r the Gra i l through the place of s k u l l s , f inds Lancelot mad with gr ie f and returns him unsuspecting to Camelot. Lancelot f a i l s in the quest of the G r a i l . He i s outstripped by his own son Galahad and humil iated. He does achieve some measure of redemption when returning to Camelot chastened by his f a i l u r e . He i s instrumental in healing the tournament wounds of the knight Urry. A sorceress had put a spe l l on him such that his wounds could only be healed by the best knight of the realm. Lancelot 's remorse and simple f a i t h cures Urry in an instant . Perceval Perceval i s a young knight who demanded to jo in the Round Table. Arthur sends him away to prove himself. Perceval has to learn rest ra in t . Often he says whatever entered his mind. Perceval 's desire to belong to 8 t h e Round T a b l e c u r b s h i s tongue, and makes him assume t h e r o l e o f t h e d i p l o m a t . In one a d v e n t u r e , P e r c e v a l i s g i v e n a w h i t e l a n c e by a l o r d . From i t s head a s i n g l e drop o f b l o o d runs c o n t i n u o u s l y down t o h i s hand. At t h e d i n n e r , P e r c e v a l sees t h e G r a i l "so r a d i a n t , t h e moon l o s t s i t s b r i g h t -n e s s . " Yet he says n o t h i n g . A s k i n g q u e s t i o n s o f t h e b l e e d i n g l a n c e and t h e G r a i l would have h e a l e d t h e s t r i c k e n F i s h e r K i n g . Because he f a i l s t o ask about t h e l a n c e and t h e G r a i l , t h e F i s h e r King would l o s e h i s l a n d , k n i g h t s would d i e , women would be widowed, and c h i l d r e n orphaned. P e r c e v a l ' s s i l e n c e l a y s t h e l a n d s c a p e i n t o r u i n . The h i d e o u s l y u g l y maiden who b e r a t e s P e r c e v a l f o r f a i l i n g t o s e i z e upon h i s o p p o r t u n i t y makes him vow t o wander u n t i l he d i s c o v e r s why t h e l a n c e b l e d and whom t h e G r a i l s e r v e d . P e r c e v a l i s con-v e r t e d t o C h r i s t i a n i t y by a h e r m i t . He f i n d s i n t h e end h i s own path t o God, l i k e t h e h e r m i t , i n s o l i t u d e . When a t t h e end o f t h e l e g e n d , t h e Lady o f t h e Lake r e t u r n s E x c a l i b u r t o A r t h u r , she robs i t o f i t s s u p e r n a t u r a l power, and robs A r t h u r o f h i s w i s e s t c o u n s e l l o r , M e r l i n . The Lady o f t h e Lake f o r c e s A r t h u r t o grow up and f a c e t e m p t i n g f e m a l e s w i t h t h e h i n d s i g h t o f h i s own e x p e r i e n c e . I n t e r p r e t a t i o n The q u e s t f o r t h e G r a i l i s t h e q u i n t e s s e n t i a l example o f a s e a r c h f o r t h e i n n e r i d e a l s e l f . I t i s t h i s s e a r c h t h a t causes a t r i u m p h o v e r s p i r i t u a l d e a t h . Taken o r i g i n a l l y from t h e pagan legends c o n c e r n i n g i m m o r t a l i t y f e r t i l i t y , and k i n s h i p , t h e G r a i l i s t h e magic v e s s e l which i s a t t h e s o u r c e o f e t e r n a l l i f e . The G r a i l i s p r o t e c t e d by a f e r t i l i t y goddess, and i s guarded i n t h e c a s t l e o f a k i n g who i s i l l . H i s l a n d i s d e s o l a t e and i n r u i n s . The h e a l i n g o f t h e k i n g r e s t o r e s l i f e t o t h e l a n d . F a i t h and t h e q u e s t keeps t h e land p r o s p e r o u s . The k n i g h t who s e a r c h e s and 9 h e a l s t h e k i n g i n h e r i t s t h e G r a i l , and w i t h i t i m m o r t a l i t y . The Iconography The u n d e r l y i n g theme o f t h e G r a i l legends i s t h a t t h e p r o t a g o n i s t can r e a c h t h e u l t i m a t e s o u r c e o f s e l f - k n o w l e d g e t h r o u g h h i s own p h y s i c a l and s p i r i t u a l e f f o r t . I t was a view o f man t h a t c l a s h e d w i t h t h e e x i s t i n g b u r e a u c r a c y o f m e d i a t i n g p r i e s t s i n o r g a n i z e d r e l i g i o n . P s y c h o l o g i c a l l y , t h e sword E x c a l i b u r r e p r e s e n t s t h e male p r i n c i p l e . I t i s a m a s c u l i n e symbol, w i t h c o n n o t a t i o n s o f v i r i l i t y , a c t i o n , war, and t h e v i o l e n t d i s c h a r g e o f e nergy. Drawing E x c a l i b u r from t h e s t o n e s i g n i f i e s t h e hero has emerged i n t o manhood. A c t i o n removes him from h i s c h i l d h o o d o b s c u r i t y . I t i s a b i r t h from which A r t h u r b e g i n s t o r e a l l y d i s c o v e r j u s t who he i s . At t h e end o f t h e t a l e s , p h y s i c a l prowess i s s o f t e n e d by t h e f e m a l e p r i n c i p l e . V i o l e n c e i s s o f t e n e d by l o v e . T h e S t o n e , l i k e t h e G r a i l , i s t h e f e m a l e p r i n c i p l e . I t i s f e m i n i n e , p a s s i v e , s h i n i n g . I t i s a r a d i a n t symbol o f l i g h t and e t e r n a l good. Moreover, i t i s . l i n k e d w i t h banquets and good c h e e r . I t i s born o f t h e magic v e s s e l s o f C e l t i c mythology t h a t p r o v i d e d l i m i t l e s s q u a l i t i e s o f d e l e c t a b l e f o o d and d r i n k i n t h e o t h e r w o r l d . The G r a i l and t h e Round T a b l e a r e n o t s i m p l y v e s s e l s , o r b i t s o f f u r n i t u r e . They a r e r e p r e s e n t a t i v e o f t h e h i g h e s t i d e a l s o f f e l l o w s h i p . Pagan i c o n s have been t r a n s f o r m e d by C h r i s t i a n i d e a l s . The Round T a b l e i s , l i k e t h e Order o f Good Cheer, a f e l l o w s h i p o f man imbued w i t h a C h r i s t i a n m i s s i o n . As Montarasso has t r a n s l a t e d M a l o r y , " i t m i r r o r s t h e roundness o f t h e e a r t h , t h e s p h e r e s o f t h e p l a n e t s , and t h e elements o f t h e f i r m a m e n t . I t i s a 10 t r u e epitome o f t h e u n i v e r s e . " The l i g h t o f t h e G r a i l i s t h e r a d i a n c e o f t h e D i v i n e S p i r i t . Whether i t s h i n e s i t s e l f o r from t h e f e m a l e f i g u r e who guards i t , i s u n c l e a r . 10 The knight errant i s the champion of the Round Table. His love of adventure is rooted in the need to f ind courage and be renowned. In winning the acclaim of his peers ( l i ke Perceval) he wins his lady and is raised in stature i n the eyes of the group. In winning he r ights i n j u s t i c e . It i s a quest of enlightenment in which sexual ity i s juxtaposed with a Chr ist ian moral i ty . Yet his search often takes him fa r beyond these immediate aims. The quest of Arthur, Lancelot, Perceval, Gawain,. e t c . , represents a moral stance. The knight errant represents the human impulse to leave the safety of home and hearth. The questor i s a r i sk taker . The object of his quest is to face danger, and to r i sk his l i f e fo r a greater v i s ion of what i t ought to be. The search ult imately i s for i n t e g r i t y . Integr ity fo r the questor is the embodiment of everlast ing l i f e . Morality Outrageous morality is at the root of the Gra i l myth. The Arthurian ta les are about womanizing men, and seductive and threatening women. Yet the ro le of women in the stor ies is complex. Arthur and Mordred are born out of wedlock. Both are reared in obscurity . It i s as i f Mordred were Arthur 's doppelganger, or e v i l double, who one day replaces Arthur by seiz ing his wife and throne, bringing both to ru in . Mordred, the resu l t of a union between Arthur and his h a l f - s i s t e r Morgana, i s imbued with a perverse, s i n i s t e r passion. Lancelot 's encounter with Morgana and the v i rg in Elaine can be i n te r -preted as counterpoints to his involvement with Guinevere. Morgana i s a seductress who t r i e s to keep Lancelot in the otherworld. Elaine i s pure, but comes from the otherworldly cast le where the Gra i l i s kept. 11 Morgana can be interpreted as the feminine counterpart and opposite of Mer l in . Where Merl in brings Arthur into the world, at the beginning of the t a l e , Morgana takes him to Avalon at the end. Merl in loves Arthur; Morgana is f u l l of suspicion and hatred. Like the witch Hecate in Shakespeare's Macbeth, Morgana is a temptress that i l l i c i t s passion, possession, and a machismo t e r r i t o r i a l imperative. Women Yet the ro le of women in the Arthurian Tales i s not so c lear -cut as to reduce femininity to simple brazen aggressors. If promiscuity prevents man from the G r a i l , i t also inspires him to acts of heroism. In marrying Guinevere, Arthur lost Mer l in , the fa ther - f igure who guided his career. Guinevere, brave and beaut i fu l , i s a poor subst itute fo r Mer l in . Her infatuation fo r Lancelot causes Arthur 's downfall . Yet Arthur inspires Lancelot to quest fo r the G r a i l . His devotion to her causes him to be t r icked such that Galahad, a son, i s born to a Guinevere stand- in (E la ine) . It i s Galahad who f inds the G r a i l . In short, women are both possessors and guiding l i gh ts fo r men. They give a l l fo r love, and take a l l fo r love. They are both enchanting and v i r g i n a l , and enchantresses, f u l l of devious magic. Magic Merl in i s the magical fa ther - f igure of the Arthurian Tales who must be displaced by the softer feminine p r inc ip le such that the questing Arthur can act f i n a l l y with autonomy. Merlin is born of the union between a dev i l who became a handsome stranger in order to make love to a k ing 's daughter. 12 M e r l i n ' s magic i s i t s e l f d i s p l a c e d by h i s l o v e o f a woman. M e r l i n i s t h e pr o p h e t , t h e s h a p e - s h i f t e r , A r t h u r ' s mentor, and f a t h e r - c o n f e s s o r . M e r l i n uses h i s magic t o p r o t e c t A r t h u r from danger; he t a k e s him t o t h e l a k e t o o b t a i n E x c a l i b u r ; he asks f o r G u i n e v e r e ' s hand f o r A r t h u r ; he d e c i d e s which k n i g h t s a r e t o be a p p o i n t e d t o t h e Round T a b l e . M e r l i n t r a n s f o r m s Uther i n t o G o r l o i s , as Morgana t r a n s f o r m s E l a i n e i n t o G u i n e v e r e . The one f a i l i n g t h a t M e r l i n has i s t h a t he t o o , i s ' h e l p l e s s i n t h e f a c e o f p a s s i o n a t e l o v e . Because M e r l i n can see t h e f u t u r e , he f o r e s e e s t h e t r a g i c consequences o f A r t h u r ' s i n t e r e s t i n G u i n e v e r e . He .cannot p r e v e n t A r t h u r ' s i n c e s t w i t h h i s h a l f - s i s t e r . M e r l i n l u s t s ' a f t e r Morgana who l e a r n s some o f her b l a c k -magic from him. H i s l u s t f o r V i v i a n causes h i s d o w n f a l l . M e r l i n , i t ;must be remembered, i s o n l y half-human. H i s human h a l f i s f e m a l e ( t h e d a u g h t e r o f a k i n g ) . Because h i s male h a l f - i s demonic, he i s c a p a b l e o f l u s t , but not o f l o v e . Caught i n t h e n e t o f an i r r e s i s t i b l e p a s s i o n f o r V i v i a n , M e r l i n i s l u l l e d i n t o s l e e p by her pr o m i s e t o become h i s m i s t r e s s . Once a s l e e p w i t h h i s head i n h e r l a p ( r e c a l l i n g t h e legend o f t h e u n i c o r n which i s tamed when i t bows i t s head w i t h t h e s i n g l e p h a l l i c horn and r e s t s i t i n t h e l a p o f a maiden), V i v i a n s u b j u g a t e s and depowers him by c i r c l i n g him n i n e t i m e s . Awakened i n t h e morning, M e r l i n i s p r i s o n e r , t r a p p e d as i f t i e d t o a huge s t a l a g m i t e o f m i s t . The g i r d l e t h a t c o n s t r a i n s M e r l i n i s , o f c o u r s e , sex. T h i s s p e c t a c l e o f t h e g r e a t m a g i c i a n h o i s t w i t h h i s own p e t a r d , t r a p p e d a t t h e l a s t by one o f h i s own i l l u s i o n s , i s one o f t h e major images o f l o s s t h a t i s a t t h e h e a r t o f t h i s m e d i e v a l romance. Magic a t t h e l a s t must be e x o r c i z e d f o r t h e r i s k s i n v o l v e d i n t h e a c t s o f a f r e e w i l l . 13 CHAPTER TWO: BOORMAN'S TWENTIETH-CENTURY MYTHIC VISION The Arthurian Tale then is the great moral "soap-opera" of the Middle 'Ages. Its theme is that the hero can f ind f u l f i l l m e n t and in tegr i ty with e f f o r t , and with f a i t h . I l l i c i t and compelling sexual i ty merely deter one from the purity of heart necessary fo r the quest. Basic to the quest i s the notion of s e l f - r e l i a n c e . In the eyes of Malory or White, God may be man's fo r the asking, but man must ask. The Arthurian romances record only toowel l that human nature being what i t i s , that asking w i l l indeed be hard. The Arthurian road from violence and lust to f a i t h and love is l i t t e r e d with the corpses of human f r a i l t y . The elements of the Arthurian ta les go fa r beyond the quest theme that runs through a l l of John Boorman's work. The characters of Arthur and Merlin show up in a l l his works. Women are transformed, morality i s equally outraged, the landscape is l a id waste, and everywhere there is magic and mystery. Arthurian f igures become in Boorman's work transformed into the pr ivate-eye, the s o l d i e r , the defrocked p r i e s t , the displaced a r i s toc ra t , and the wilderness adventurer. The iconography of Excalibur i s transformed into a bow and arrow, a gun, a mind-synchronizing machine, automobiles, and even a telescope. The Gra i l more often than not i s money. The quintessent ia l transformation of the Arthurian Tales in Boorman's feature f i lms l i e s in the degree to which the quest i s c a t h a r t i c . Boorman's hero i s an outside^: ^a con-man, a doubting p r i e s t , - a youthful band leader, an inef fectual a r i s t o c r a t , a so ld ier caught in a time warp, and an ancient warrior who is thrust into the future. A l l these men are loners, who f ind 14 themselves outside of t h e i r known element. They are compelled to violence through an anxious s p i r i t u a l i s o l a t i o n . The quest fo r Boorman, however, is not completely epiphanic. Behind the compulsive search of his protagonists is only the dark horror of emotional i s o l a t i o n , v i c t i m i z a t i o n , and violence. Boorman's heroes emerge from t h e i r quest largely numbed. The camaraderie -of the group has f a i l e d them. The knowledge they gain of man's baser, v io lent nature is unredemptive. Boorman's heroes emerge from a twentieth-century wasteland that has not been restored. They are transcendent, yet they have not been wholly transformed. At best they have fought to see only the given-ness of man's condit ion. Knowledge of l i f e ' s absurdity i s "won". The operative word is won. Like the protagonists of Kurosawa's f i lms that Boorman admires, struggle and growth are i m p l i c i t through act ion . Such a view I w i l l show makes Boorman a par t icu la r kind of re l ig ious e x i s t e n t i a l i s t who is related more to Beckett, Nichols , and Ionesco than ' to the Chr ist ian authors who inspired and shaped his v i s i o n . What fol lows pr io r to a more detai led examination of each of the feature f i lms is a top ica l analysis of Arthurian elements that i s at the root of Boorman's view of man. Violence The Arthurian Tales are f u l l of v io lence. Arthur 's court had a magnetic a t t ract ion for bold, f ight ing men. Lancelot in one t a l e f ights his way into Castle Sorrowful to free prisoners held there by a s p e l l . In another t a l e Merl in himself goes mad with gr ie f over the carnage of a 11 bat t le . Galahad in bat t le was not considered a man but a monster. In one tournament Arthur compared four of his knights "to a mad l i o n , a ravening 15 leopard, and a pai r of eager wolves." The hammer blows of violence that mark the Gra i l Legends weld not only v ic to ry , but honour, i n teg r i t y , and s p i r i t u a l atonement. It i s in v io lent c o n f l i c t that the knight errant feels himself most f u l l y . Through violence, every facet of his being is brought into play. In combat the hero is freed from his lack of confidence. Arthur heroes are not simply bovine men, too stupid to fee l fear . They are emotional, sens i t ive men, who in bat t le steel themselves against t h e i r psychological f a i l i n g s . Violence in the Arthurian Tales is not just purgative, i t i s a means to transcendence. Boorman transforms the meaning of the violence in, his f i l m s . It is not the apotheosis fo r his modern counterparts of Arthur 's knight errant. Boorman's heroes are men of power. They are skept ics , youths, warr iors , workers, and a r i s tocrats who have f e l t the need to seek a more basic l i f e beyond the confines of the c i t y . Like the knight errant, Boorman's hero is the quintessential loner who is driven to violence by cu l tu ra l animosity, revenge, or the cruelty of other ind iv idua ls . The violence of Boorman's questing heroes does not provide the image of Chr is t ; i t provides instead a confrontation with the absurd. Violence in Boorman's f i lms occurs at every level of human in teract ion . It occurs between men and men in "Deliverance" and "Hel l in the Pacif ic ' , ' . It occurs between men and women in "Excalibur" and "Zardoz";'between women and women in "Having a Wild Weekend" and "Leo the L a s t " . For Boorman the brotherhood of man is a l l but an empty notion. While l oya l ty , f r iendship , and courage often motivate' interact ion between his characters, love and commitment insp i re only betrayal . Hence Boorman's heroes are inscrutable men. They are driven by the need to transcend the violence of the world, 16 yet that dr ive is f u l l of violence that does have a strange mystical connection. Take fo r example the violence of Walker in "Point Blank". In that moment between his being shot by a gangster f r iend Mal Reese, and his death moments l a t e r , Walker l i ves an interregnum l i f e in which he resolutely seeks and destroys a l l those syndicate bosses who cheated him out of his share of a heist from the Organization. Walker's violence is a mental re t r i bu t ion , in the moment of his death. It i s a j u s t i f i c a t i o n for a cr iminal l i f e . Yet the mental k i l l i n g of Mal Reese, Brewster, Carter, and the "recovery" of the money, leaves Walker an u n f u l f i l l e d dying sou l . Retribution leaves Walker co ld . The avenging of the betrayal of those he loved and trusted does not give Walker the release in death that his dying moments sought desperately to achieve. The violence of "Point Blank" is the violence of a man who sought transcendence by avenging those who did him wrong. The violence i s not redemptive. Walker dies an unrejuvenated l i f e because the code he l i ved in l i f e was equally negative. Walker's desire fo r meaning in the moment between l i f e and death gave him at the las t only a sense of the absurdity of an existence based upon den ia l . In "Deliverance", Lewis the sadist leader of the four-man canoe t r i p down the soon-to-be-floodedCahulawassee River of Georgia, i s expressive of the violence and the fear that reside- in his three less macho companions. Lewis' i n s e n s i t i v i t y toward the h i l l b i l l i e s who w i l l soon be displaced by the r i s i n g r i v e r sets them along a course of mutual destruct ion. Bobby's adolescent sexual urges are displaced by his being homosexually assaulted by the h i l l b i l l i e s . This act , an ontological schism in the d e f i n i t i o n of the group, forces Ed, the least v io lent , to face the violence of his own 17 heart. Ed must k i l l in order to survive. The lesson he learns is not redemptive. The wilderness the group entered for rejuvenation has become a wasteland through violence. The rapaciousness of the outsiders is re f lected in the construction of a dam by urban planners. The r i v e r w i l l be ra ised , and the h i l l b i l l i e s displaced. Ed does not k i l l and gain stature. He k i l l s and loses a part of himself. Ed's act fo r survival remains in his heart a nightmare. In "Exorcist I I" , Father Lamont, a defrocked pr iest , must cut the heart out of a young g i r l ' s possessed double. In caring for Regan, Father Lamont has given up a Cathol ic orthodoxy 'and set upon a s p i r i t u a l quest fo r reb i r th that takes him into a v io lent mysticism. The violence of "Exorcist II" i s brought about by Boorman's c o l l i s i o n of the world of science and the world of technology. Father Lamont's k i l l i n g of Regan is an act of f a i t h that i s rooted in his knowledge of science. That Lamont dies himself unredeemed in a massive explosion of a l l that is unnatural, allows Boorman to reveal some s t a r t l i n g cinematic pyrotechniques. Lamont's s p i r i t u a l c r i s i s and ensuing v io lent death is a meaningless s a c r i f i c e in that no one learns. . Lamont's knowledge of the violence of any kind of re l ig ious possession dies with him. While the Church, f u l l of.mission in t h e i r Chr ist ian conversion of Afr ican vi l lages^continues to ef fect soc ia l and cu l tu ra l genocide. In "Zardoz", Zed retreats from the twenty-third century violence of computer snooping. Zed remains l i t t l e more than a thug throughout. His violence against the technological investigators is a reactionary retreat into a more personal debasement of indiv idual violence based upon sexual i ty and machismo. 18 The violence of "Having a Wild Weekend" i s , l i k e "Zardoz, a media violence that sets the rock star hero Steve,and h i s model g i r l f r i e n d Dinah, of f on a quest fo r peace and sa lvat ion . The wilderness in the case of "Having a Wild Weekend" is not purgative. As in "Deliverance," Steve and Dinah cannot escape man's v io lent nature. The island to which they both f l ee i s , l i k e the Cahulawassee, merely an extension of the v io lent media-hyped world from which they f l e d . In such a v io lent world, love, Boorman says, i s impossible. The violence in Boorman's f i lms is graphic. "Hel l in the P a c i f i c " ends in a v io lent explosion reminiscent of Antonioni 's "Zabriskie Point" . The American and Japanese sold iers who have survived post-war l i f e together on a deserted p a c i f i c a t o l l where they have been shipwrecked, cannot completely exorcise t h e i r separate c u l t u r a l i z a t i o n that has pronounced them enemies. The v io lent explosion of the deserted radar stat ion they tumble across on t h e i r quest fo r rescue is symbolic. It has blown "up any chance for a sustained mutual co-operation. "Leo the Last" ends too with a v io lent explosion of the mansion from which Leo the a r i s toc ra t has been kept away from the real world of suffer ing humanity. Violence and Women Much of the violence of the Arthurian Tales occurs fo r the sake of a lady. Lancelot fought better when he was in love with Guinevere. Uther stormed Tintagel in order to win Igraine. The code of ch iva l ry that was basic to the romances saw knightly att i tudes toward women that were essent ia l l y s e r v i l e . In Boorman's "Having a Wild Weekend", Steve rescues Dinah from the "Meat For Go" campaign, only to be caught up in the greater 19 violence of media exp lo i ta t ion . Dinah does not, l i k e Guinevere, se t t l e for a monastery; she embraces the media and what i t can give her, wholeheartedly. At the end of "Hel l in the P a c i f i c , " the two American and Japanese sold iers are driven to a f i n a l separation by photographs of American and Japanese g i r l s who are the sweethearts of warriors k i l l e d in war. In Boorman's f i lms the ro le of women goes hand in hand with the theme of the outraged morality that i s at the heart of the Arthurian Legend. In Boorman's f i l m s , women do not always i n i t i a t e the quest; when they do, no gentle lady awaits the return of the hero. The knight er rant 's humil ity gives way to sad is t ic crue l ty . Love and women is a complex issue in Boorman f i l m s . The romantic 13 notion of the woman as the insp i rer of act ion , Boorman turns upon i t s head. The violence of Boorman's f i lms then is a violence that is based upon the action inherent in the quest, rather than that bound up in character. Boorman's f i lms are f u l l of v io lent act ion , so much so that he has been " c r i t i c i z e d " fo r creating characters that are one-dimensional representations necessary to embark upon the adventurous quest. C r i t i c s have argued that the quest motif does not provide enough of a context fo r the violence in 14 his f i l m s . Incontrast to , say, a d i rector l i k e Arthur Penn, the violence in Boorman's f i lms seems s u p e r f i c i a l . Penn, for example", sees the knowledge 15 of man's v io lent nature bound wholly up in his character 's phys ica l i t y . The twitching death agony of Buck Barrow in "Bonnie and C lyde" is so bound up in the nervous way he l ived his l i f e that the v io lent death he suffers i s understandable and acceptable. Helen K e l l e r ' s violence in "The Miracle Worker" i s a rage born of bl indness. Clyde's death in "Bonnie and Clyde" comes shockingly, i r o n i c a l l y , moments a f ter he has overcome a sexual and personal impotence. 20 Violence As A Means To The Absurd The violence of Boorman's f i lms is not as numbing as that of Arthur Penn or Sam Peckinpah. Boorman transforms the purgative violence of the Grai l quest, and makes i t largely an inconsequential act . Though his characters search re len t less l y fo r some sort of transcendence, the mi l ieu in which they operate is often not commensurate with the force of t h e i r des i re . The violence in Boorman's f i lms becomes s u r r e a l i s t i c by v i r tue of i t s juxtaposit ion with elements of the everyday that are s i n i s t e r , yet comic. Boorman's violence is the other half of a world that i s burlesque. The irony generated through such a juxtaposit ion depowers the compulsiveness of the v iolence, and moves i t to a level beyond r e a l i t y . The uniquely psychological landscape that Boorman creates by bringing elements of violence and comedy together i s such that the resu l t of the quest i s found to be not t rans -cendence, but a sense of the absurd. In "Having a Wild Weekend," there is one episode in which a small army of tanks and infantrymen swoop down upon Steve and Dinah and a group of harmless dishevel led hippies who have taken refuge in an abandoned, de re l i c t old house on a disused World War II a i r base. The tanks and troops enc i rc le the confused, motley group with a l l the exuberance of a war game. The irony of m i l i t a r y might, set in earnest combat with a few early flower chi ldren who are more hungry than aggressive, creates a scene that i s g lee fu l l y absurd. The violence inherent in Walker's compulsive pursuit of the syndicate in "Point Blank" is juxtaposed by a car-smashing sequence beneath a freeway overpass. The car i s demolished b i t by b i t u n t i l John Stegman, syndicate member and owner of Big John's auto dealership, reveals the whereabouts of 21 the syndicate boss, Reese. The scene, though revealing of urban a l ienat ion , i s also a s lapst ick celebration of the destruction of urban commercialism. The dialogue between Walker and Brewster i s , as the interchange between Mifune and Marvin in "Hel l in the P a c i f i c , " f u l l of comic tes t iness . Bobby's decidedly sexual monologue during the f i r s t n ight 's camp on the Cahulawassee River in "Deliverance," i s a prelude to the sexual savagery that is to come. Yet i t is of i t s e l f , a curious, genuinely funny re-enactment of the sexual f rust rat ions of adolescence. The carnival dance sequence among the Eternals in "Zardoz" in which g e r i a t r i c couples become sexually aroused is a comic put-down of the f r i g i d female programmers who control l i f e in the Vortex. In "Leo the Last , " the impoverished blacks of the London slum that surround Leo's mansion are used and denied status. Such r a c i a l violence and bigotry i s tempered however, with such wonderfully comic episodes as, an a r i s t o c r a t i c group therapy session, a meeting of paranoid revolut ionar ies , and a ravenous banquet sequence, that reveal these patr ic ians to be more eccentr ic than v ic ious , and more vulnerable than a l ienated. "Exorcist II", i s f u l l of comic irreverence. There is an Elmer Gantry f i gu re , Ecumenical Edwards,'who hustles re l ig ious f igur ines to the Catholic missions of Ethiopia from the back of his small plane. He i s a transplanted mid-west b ib le salesman, with a disarming honesty and a sense of humour. Even more ent ic ing is the doomed comic f l i r t a t i o u s n e s s between Father Lamont and the sexually repressed psych ia t r i s t Dr. Jean Tuskin. Boorman's world i s black, yet i t i s revealed as being v io len t l y absurd. His use of black comedy makes the violence an extension of men who are more out of harmony with t h e i r world, rather than simply w i l l f u l l y destruct ive . The violence of Boorman's world meets only the ordinariness of the everyday. The resu l t i s the l imited cathars is in the knowledge of the absurd. 22 Outraged Moral ity Though the Boorman protagonist i s a loner, his i s not a misogynist. His aloneness is often bound up in a strange blend of sexual i ty and r e l i g i o n . If the Hawksion hero i s a macho f igure who becomes t imid and p l i ab le in the face of women who domineer, Boorman's romantic loner does not simply coerce female s e n s i b i l i t y . Boorman's depiction of women i s much more complex than the simple "preying" of male machismo. The quest gives Boorman a chance to explore sexual waywardness with an almost re l ig ious sanction. Homosexuality, female f r i g i d i t y , and carnal knowledge f igure as metaphorical ingredients to the very nature of the male quest. At one l e v e l , man is so i led by women, and so must redeem himself by r idding himself of them, before the quest can be renewed. At another l e v e l , male and female characters undergo role inversions such that homosexuality becomes part of the knowledgeof man's e v i l that i s gleaned from the quest. Like the Arthurian Tales, at every l e v e l , sexual i ty and transcendence are merged. Take fo r example the undercurrent of homosexuality that f igures in Boorman's f i l m s . In "Point Blank," Walker's venge - f i l l ed quest i s spurred by the memory and the betrayal of his wi fe , Lynn. So dominant i s Walker's re lat ionship to Lynn, that other male characters in the f i l m come to echo female q u a l i t i e s . Brewster, l i k e Norman Bates in "Psycho," i s an eas i ly f lustered per fect ion is t whose home is f i l l e d with a r t i f a c t s of baroque erot ic ism. Walker's f r iendship with Reese (a syndicate boss) i s , too, c lea r l y revealed as having a homosexual att ract iveness. Mifune and Marvin in "Hel l in the P a c i f i c " cont inual ly exchange "housekeeping" roles within t h e i r beach she l ter . Domestic petulance reveals an undercurrent of mutual a t t ract ion that i s held in check by the s t r i c t demands of the code of 23 so ld ie r ing , and by the tattered photographs of the women "back home." In "Deliverance" Bobby's continual verbal sexual innuendoes and display, mark him early as the appropriate v ict im of a homosexual rape. C lear ly , the issue of .a sexual i ty that has l iberat ing and humanizing inf luence, becomes in Boorman's v i s i o n , a threatening presence that i s c r u c i a l to the knowledge gained from the quest. In "Exorcist I I , " "Zardoz," "Excal ibur , " and "Leo the Last , " Boorman's depiction of sexual i ty takes on a more t r a d i t i o n a l , more s e x i s t , and more s i n i s t e r r o l e . In these f i l m s , sexual i ty i s c lea r l y l inked with the r a t i o n a l i t y that i s buried within the meaning of Gra i l legend. It seems that , women with in te l l i gence embody the same power as the G r a i l . They, l i k e Elaine in the Arthurian Tale, must remain pure. Father Lamont in the "Exorcist II" i s sexually aroused by the cool phlegmatic psych ia t r i s t Jean Tuskin. This arousal is given f u l l play at the end of the f i l m when the Ev i l One, Bazoozoo, becomes l i t e r a l l y the seductive subst i tute fo r the possessed Regan. That Lamont neither arouses Tuskin, who remains pure, nor succumbs to Bazoozoo1s seduction, i s testament to sexual anxiety that i s at the root of his odyssey. Jean Tuskin in "Exorcist II" is in many ways an extension of May (the genet ic is t ) and Avalow, the Vortex cont ro l le rs in "Zardoz." These women possess very special i n t e l l e c t u a l q u a l i t i e s . As d i rec to rs , as i n t e l l e c t u a l s , they become quite representative of the potency of the G r a i l . As such, they must forever be v i r g i n a l . To seduce them would be to s o i l the image of the G r a i l , and to undercut the romantic nature of the quest. Only Consuella in "Zardoz" i s capable of bearing Zed's chi ldren because she essent ia l l y i s a "domestic," with no pretension of knowledge or power. Ingraine, too, in 24 "Excalibur" i s as much a part of Uther's temptation as his own l us t . Morgana, her daughter, in perceiving her mother's seduction by another, becomes l i k e Avalow and May, a f igure of authority and dominance. Morgana, l i k e May, i s k i l l e d therefore by v i r tue of her manipulative hold upon the male. Even in "Having a Wild Weekend," Dinah's commercial potent ial as a model, as a temptress, threatens her bond with her stuntmen f r iends . Their odyssey from swinging London is r e a l l y an odyssey that reveals her to be an enchantress who, V i v i a n - l i k e , w i l l lure Steve to a psychological waste-land that i s expressive of his betrayal and aloneness. The women of the Arthurian Tales--Morgana, the Lady of the Lake, Ingraine, V i v i a n - - e t c . , possess an a l te r ing but s i n i s t e r magic. They are . both ent ic ing and dangerous. As the Lady of the Lake uses her magic arts to protect Arthur and Lancelot, Morgana uses her magic against them. Like Merlin himself, Boorman transforms his women into both f e r t i l e and murderous forces. They surface in male and female "skins" throughout his narrat ives. Their loving and cruel magic represents the forces of i r r a t i o n a l and passionate des i re . In the Arthurian Tales, such forces are converted into beings that are'." supernatural. Boorman transforms the women of the Gra i l legends into f igures that are manipulators to be used, or barren enough to be destroyed. The creative potent ial inherent in genuine sexual equal ity i s converted in Boorman's f i lms into a l ib id inous repression that y ie lds only sexual aberrat ion. The enchanted palaces, gardens, cas t l es , and secluded val leys of the fays in the o r ig ina l Gra i l myth are enclosed places. The Freudian interpretat ion of these places being analogous to female gen i ta l ia is c lea r , though ent i re l y underdeveloped in the Arthurian myths. Boorman allows for such a Freudian view in his rendering of the more contemporary women f igures in his f i lms by allowing passion to be replaced by crue l ty . 25 Mystery: The Wasteland The old C e l t i c be l ie f that the f e r t i l i t y of the land was dependent upon the wel l -being of the king was incorporated and developed more c lear l y in the Arthurian romances. In Morte D 1Arthur, the king is seen to be an expression of the state of the land. With the Fisher King cr ippled by a lance, his land is barren. Ultimately the hero heals the king and f e r t i l i t y 1 i s restored to the land. Though the wasteland i s the nexus of the Gra i l quest, i t i s important in that i t marks the passage from impasse to the place of renewal. The place of mystery and renewal Northrop Frye c a l l s the "green world". This green world i s c ruc ia l to the Arthurian legend in that i t equates a reaff i rmation to serve mankind. Connected with the images of death and human depravation that in the wasteland is the fo res t . The forest of the Gra i l myth is another world. It is green and beauti ful and ent ic ing . It is too the place of whispers and footsteps, where people observe from the corner of the underbrush. The forest provides both the sett ing for the hunt, and a glade for the dreamy to make love. In Morte D'Arthur, Perceval and Lancelot leave the wasteland with the Gra i l and suffer verbal abuse from downtrodden peasants. In the forest are witches, enchanted cas t l es , monsters, and f a i r i e s . Lancelot makes love to Guinevere in a fo res t . For the knight errant the green world of the forest holds great a t t rac t ion . For the knight errant, the forest i s a network of p o s s i b i l i t i e s . In short, i t i s a place of mystery. Boorman transforms the landscape of the wasteland and the green world in his f i l m s , and makes i t a surreal expression of a state of mind. The wasteland in Boorman's f i lms is at once a prison c e l l - b l o c k , a modern American c i t y , :a t r i b a l c l i f f - d w e l l i n g in A f r i c a , a London slum. The forest 26 i s transformed into an Appalachian r i v e r gorge, a run-down mansion in a cul de sac, a p a c i f i c a t o l l , a suburban bungalow, and the English Downland. Unlike the movement toward l i f e by the barren soul of the wasteland in the Gra i l legend, Boorman's passage offers no such c lear promise of renewal. In "Having a Wild Weekend," and "Point Blank," the wasteland is c lear ly the barren a l ienat ing confines of the modern c i t y . In "Having a Wild Week-end," neon signs- and road d i rect ions point people to the empty pleasures of the hedonistic l i f e . Steve and Dinah t ry to f l e e London but f ind them-selves t r a v e l l i n g in c i r c l e s forever spied upon by a huge "Meat For Go" advert is ing campaign. In "Point Blank," Boorman extends the road metaphor to express the epitome of the barrenness of the urban American way of l i f e by having much of Walker's re lent less search for vengeance occur under overpasses, above crowded c i t y s t reets , and in storm sewers that , l i k e high-ways, g l i s ten with the empty, co ld , concrete of a l i enat ion . The chase from London to Bath provides the context fo r the "green world" in "Having a Wild Weekend." Boorman's telephoto camera seems to make Nan and Guy's Bentley f l o a t through the Downland toward t h e i r mansion outside of Bath. Yet i t i s a l l an i l l u s i o n . The mansion is shot as yet another series of closed environments. It is a medieval " fo res t , " at once ent ic ing (a f i r e -place) , yet foreboding in i t s hidden passages that allow Nan and Guy to spy. They are poor models of the future for the hopeful, f lee ing young couple. Bremster's suburban home in "Point Blank" ostensibly represents the promise of renewal in his new re lat ionship with Chr is . Yet at the house, Chris discovers that Walker is not interested in her. The appliances, symbolic of marital s t a b i l i t y , taunt the very sexual root of t h e i r new 27 re la t ionsh ip . In reaction Chris turns on every e l e c t r i c a l appliance in the home. The noise is a wi ld cacophony of utens i ls that mocks the s t a b i l i t y the home stands fo r . The "green world" of Brewster's suburban home resul ts only in increased a l ienat ion . In "Hel l in the P a c i f i c " the jungle, l i k e the forest of the Cahulawassee in "Deliverance," provides safety in that i t provides cover fo r the stranded American and Japanese so ld ie rs . Yet i t also separates them, fo r l i k e the secret passageways and corr idors of Nan's mansion in "Having a Wild Weekend," i t provides myriads of ways in which the World War II enemies can continue to wage war with each other. The wasteland, the bombed desolate radar out-post on a nearby is land , reveals only the ruined a r t i f a c t s of American and Japanese cu l tu re . For the American so ld ie r , and the Japanese Captain, the South P a c i f i c of fers only reminders of destruct ion, and images that continue to foster antipathy. The r i v e r gorge of the Cahulawassee is both a wasteland, and a "green world" in Boorman's "Deliverance." The soon-to-be-flooded Cahulawassee and i t s surrounding forest offers the promise of renewal fo r Ed, Bobby, Drew, and Lewis. Instead, t h e i r canoe t r i p through t h i s vanishing piece of wilderness become the place where buggery and murder becomes the expression of common humanity. The forest that draws the inef fectual a r i s tocra t out from his wasteland in "Leo the Last" i s an East-end London cul de sac. Leo's mansion is a moral wasteland. Bourgeois indifference and corrupt capita l ism make the members of Leo's household wholly insens i t ive to the p l ight of the poor who l i v e in the surrounding slum. The dark street outside Leo's mansion and the windows 28 of the tenement f l a t s f a c i n g him are f i l l e d with a kind of s o c i a l i n t e r -a c t i o n Leo has never known. In the c u l de sac Leo sees poverty, c r u e l t y , rape, and brotherhood. He i s drawn back i n t o l i f e by the adventure t h a t beckons him from h i s i s o l a t i o n . In order t o be r e - i n t e g r a t e d as a human being, however, Boorman has Leo descend i n t o a v i o l e n c e t h a t o u t s t r i p s those of h i s household and those of the s t r e e t . For Boorman, c o r r u p t i o n means redemption. In "Zardoz," the wasteland i s both l i t e r a l and s u r r e a l . A f u t u r e holocaust has l a i d the landscape bare, save f o r a small community of female computer t e c h n o c r a t s . These women c o n t r o l l e r s have formed an Amazon-like f u t u r e community in which t h e i r computer prowess has given them the a b i l i t y to c o n t r o l men. Zed, the outsider, i s drawn i n t o the green and glowing world of the computer screens c a l l e d the Vortex. He i s able t o break the c o n t r o l l i n g power of the dominating women, but in so doing scours the land-scape with h i s v i o l e n t deeds. Zed repl a c e s t e c h n o l o g i c a l domination with only Neanderthal domination. The promise of i n t e l l i g e n c e i s the l e a s t important human a t t r i b u t e t o be rewarded through Zed's quest. The landscape of the Vortex i s s u r r e a l . T e lescreens r e v e a l t o the women c o n t r o l l e r s the memory and the f u t u r e of a l l those who i n h a b i t t h e i r community. The Tabernacle room (heart of the G r a i l ) i s ablaze with f l a s h i n g l i g h t s , and w h i r r i n g computers. Boorman's d e p i c t i o n of human memory d i s p l a y e d on the t e l e s c r e e n s i s a b i z a r r e j u x t a p o s i t i o n . o f human needs and f e a r s . The Tabernacle room i s Boorman's simultaneous treatment of an inner and an outer r e a l i t y . U n l i ke the A r t h u r i a n t a l e s , the r e l e n t l e s s urgings of the quest i n 29 Boorman's f i lms is motivated not by hope, but by fear . The journey through the wasteland and the forest does not dispel apprehensiveness. Acts of bravery are not rewarded with a s p i r i t u a l ins ight . Instead the violence of rescue drives Boorman's heroes toward madness. The forest for Boorman i s a place l i k e the wasteland, of essent ia l l y negative impulses. From Boorman's contemporary renderings of the Gra i l "green world," characters peer from t h e i r cover with a nervousness that i s not assuaged. Boorman's f i lms are f u l l of images of people watching each other. Nan and Guy in "Having a Wild Weekend" watch the two runaways Steve and Dinah from secret passages and holes in the walls of t h e i r upper class household. Establishment spies fol low them, and the media watches everybody. In "Point Blank," Walker resolutely spies on Mai Reese, a syndicate member who shadowed, and cornered, and k i l l e d for his act of doublecross. Leo the a r is tocrat in "Leo the Last" watches the l i ves and events of the slum ghetto with growing in te rest . His spying, i n i t i a l l y an extension of his ornithology, becomes f i n a l l y a means f o r , h i s redemption from upper c lass i so la t ion and indi f ference. "Deliverance" resounds with apprehension. Retarded chi ldren watch bleakly from a l imited consciousness, a world that has intruded upon Appalachia, and created in essence, t h e i r condit ion. The mountain men spy on the four canoe-tr ipping intruders, Ed, Lewis, Drew, and Bobby, as they themselves watch Bobby's sexually adolescent campfire d isp lay , spe l l out the real nature of t h e i r disquiet . . . and t h e i r doom. Ed must become a g u e r i l l a , and seek and destroy the Cahulawassie h i l l b i l l i e s that makes him, at the end, l i t t l e more than one of them. "Hel l in the P a c i f i c " i s about two sold iers who adopt g u e r i l l a t a c t i c s on a peaceful p a c i f i c a t o l l . Preying and paranoia are learned defenses, Boorman t e l l s us, that f i n a l l y over 30 rules any personal common humanity. In "Zardoz," the women cont ro l le rs of the Vortex computer spy by way of telescreens into the wired on the past, present, and future, of Zed, the v i r i l e , not-so-noble savage who has entered t h e i r ce l ibate world. In "Exorcist I I , " Jean Tuskin's mind synchronizer allows Father Lamont to see and to enter the l i f e of one possessed by demons other than re l ig ious dogma. In "Exorcist I I , " Lamont's preoccupation is the looking of a man who has lost his f a i t h . In "Excal ibur , " Merl in the wizard spies on Igraine, with growing interest in the e v i l nature of Morgona. Arthur spies on Galahad who has stolen his wife and Galahad on Percival who f inds the G r a i l . Characters emerge from Boorman's forest str iken with paranoia. They have not reaffirmed a f a i t h to save man. At best they have gained a l imited knowledge that the darkness of t h e i r own hearts i s mankind's wasteland. In consequence, a l l watch each other in fear and in fury. There is no deliverance to an Eden glade. Iconography The Lance, the Sword, and the Gra i l are the operative icons of the Arthurian legend. These a r t i f a c t s give s ign i f icance to feasts , tournaments, ba t t les , and thrones. The G r a i l , the ho l ies t r e l i c in Christendom, and i t s attendant sword Excal ibur , s ign i fy the struggle to wrest a meaningful l i f e from adventure, g lory, sexua l i ty , and ar istocracy . These icons Boorman transforms to match the needs of his modern warr iors . The p h a l l i c sword has become the gun in "Point Blank," "Hell in the P a c i f i c , " and "Zardoz." In "Having a Wild Weekend" i t is the probing te lev i s ion camera. In "Deliverance" i t i s a murderous cross-bow and an old r i f l e . In "Leo the Last , " Leo does his jousting with a telescope. In "Exorcist I I , " the means to a knowledge 31 of man's l imited condition is a mind-synchronizer machine that allows Lamont to search 1and destroy Regan's d e b i l i t a t i n g possession. The G r a i l , promise of restorat ion in the Arthurian ta les undergoes a more complex transformation in Boorman's f i l m s . In the Gra i l myth i t represents the female p r i n c i p l e , the restorat ive , rejuvenative, passive element that quel ls the savage warrior beast in man. Boorman's questing heroes seek the G r a i l , but i t does not shine with the promise of eternal goodness. The Gra i l i s freedom in "Having a Wild Weekend." Steve and Dinah seek i t , yet i t eludes t h e i r quest. Dinah capitu lates in the end for fame and money. Steve wiser in the knowledge that freedom i s impossible, grows up in sadness. In "Point Blank," the Gra i l ostensibly i s money. Walker's l i f e - i n -death dream to avenge those who doublecrossed him of his share of a syndicate he is t , sets him resolute ly on a quest not fo r t ruth but revenge. In the end, Walker gets his money, but gives i t up. His Gra i l has been an icon that has betrayed him. The aloneness that Walker f e l t at the beginning i s f e l t at the end. The knowledge of a greater doublecross that he played upon himself dies with him. In "Leo the Last , " Boorman's most surreal comedy, the Gra i l is a frozen turkey. Rosco the vigorous defender of the subjugated blacks of the street where Leo l i ves iso lated in his mansion, defends the stolen bird as the v i rg in defends the G r a i l . Shining with hope, the frozen turkey beckons to Leo who w i l l seek the fel lowship and commitment i t represents. In the process he w i l l discover the violence inherent in that commitment. In "Hel l in the P a c i f i c , " the Gra i l i s the promise of love that is manifest in the photographs of girls-back-home that the two Japanese and American so ld iers f ind amidst a ruined radar i n s t a l l a t i o n on an isolated 32 p a c i f i c a t o l l . The pictures promising love and respite from war are however, juxtaposed with images of death (a tattered wa l le t , a name tag , e tc . ) In consequence the promise of f u l f i l l m e n t surfaces the r e a l i t y of cu l tu ra l antagonisms that resu l t in the death of love. In "Deliverance" the Gra i l might be considered to be in the musical instruments Drew and the Albino retarded h i l l b i l l y youth play at the outset of the canoe- t r ip . The promise of joy from the give and take of "Dueling Banjos" becomes a resolute l i f e and death duel between h i l l b i l l y , a n d outsider . The Gra i l fo r Lamont in the "Exorcist II" i s the promise for s p i r i t u a l renewal through his act to exorcize Regan's possession. Manifest in Regan herself (she awakens sexual yearnings in Lamont) the Gra i l causes the eventual s a c r i f i c e of Lamont's l i f e . These transformations of the pr inc ipa l iconography of the Gra i l legend within Boorman's f i lms render' a s ign i f i can t change of focus to the themes of struggle and catharsis that i s at the root of the medieval t a l e s . For Boorman, the struggle is important.. The quest, and i t s attendant deviations ( feast ing, sexual encounters, tournaments) bring only a part ia l . . • revelat ion of man's po tent ia l . The knowledge of man's v io lent nature, given only to some of his characters make the Gra i l transformations in Boorman's f i l m a l i m i t i n g a r t i f a c t . If Boorman's heroes set out with hope ("Deliverance") f a i t h ("Having a Wild Weekend,") courage (Hel l . in . the P a c i f i c , " ) and s incer i ty ("Having a Wild Weekend," and "Exorcist II") they soon lose these q u a l i t i e s and retreat from love, or else go forward with the l im i t ing knowledge that love is bound up with compromise and c rue l ty . Heroic Transformations 33 r Arthur, Mer l in , Guinevere, the Fisher King and other Gra i l protagonists are to be found in one guise or another in most of Boorman's feature f i l m s -Arthur himself i s an archtypal f i gu re . He is the quintessent ia l questor. In his search for a personal authenticity he created a Round Table of knights errant who sought j u s t i c e through bravery and ch iva l ry . Always the goal of the questor was self-knowledge. Arthur and his k i n , Lancelot, Perceval, and Gawain, represent men with a mission. As such Arthur i s as universal a f igure as Ulysses. He shows up in various forms in l i t e r a t u r e and f i l m where a s p i r i t u a l c r i s i s motivates the drive fo r renewal. Other Gra i l characters are not however s t r i c t l y archetypal f igures . Merlin the magician, the Fisher King, Morgana, Arthur 's seductive ha l f -s i s t e r and Mordred a bastard son, are spec i f i c to Arthurian legend. Yet these characters show up in various transformations in Boorman's work, and reveal in the process his repeated influence of elements spec i f i c to the Gra i l legend. Boorman's transformation of Arthurian characters represents a transplant of character types to su i t a modern context. Often his Gra i l f igures do not achieve what they did in the medieval t a l e s . Driven by s imi la r impulses, Boorman's heroic transformations seek and do not f i n d . They s t r i v e only to k i l l or be k i l l e d . They y i e l d to cu l tu ra l and psycho-log ica l influences that make them more three-dimensional than the moral blindness of some knights errant. In u t i l i z i n g the heroic f igures of the Gra i l myth in a modern context where even the reason for the quest is skewed by a l i ena t ion , Boorman's heroes are t rag ic f igures in an ant i -hero ic age. Often t h e i r struggle is fo r nought. The wisdom they gain i f at a l l i s of l i f e ' s absurdity and violence. Boorman's twentieth-century Gra i l character i s not s t r i c t l y a hero or a survivor. He i s e i ther a red-neck 34 throw-back that i s out of place in the twentieth-century, or someone whose inner s p i r i t u a l i t y forces him to seek beyond the given absurdity of modern l i f e . Arthur King (King Arthur) i s the protagonist of an early (1964) B.B.C. t e lev i s ion production ca l led "The Quarry." It i s a narrat ive about a sculptor who facing f i n a l l y a slab of marble is unable to make that f i r s t mark. The quarry represents not only the source from which the marble is hewn; i t also represents the meaning that l i e s at the end of a search. Having found his quarry, Arthur King is numbed in the face of i t . In "Point Blank," King Arthur i s Walker an al ienated vengeance-f i l led modern-day urban gangster. Walker i s shot twice at point-blank range by his w i fe 's lover. Between the shots we see in Walker's dying conscious-ness a resolute quest fo r re t r i bu t ion . Walker avenges those who cheated him, but his v ictory i s hollow. His l i f e ( in his dying reconstruction of i t ) i s without emotion. He has been a dead questor, long before his quest fo r meaning began. Walker sees the hollowness of his determination only seconds before he d ies . Walker has misperceived the G r a i l , and as such " los t " his l i f e . The Arthurian knights errant in "Hel l in the P a c i f i c " are two wartime enemies (an American airman, and a Japanese naval o f f i c e r ) who are stranded together on a P a c i f i c a t o l l . Cultural animosity clouds t h e i r chances to do much more than survive together. In "Deliverance" the questors are four. Drew an emotive musician, who cannot handle the violence of the human waste-land he is thrust in to . Bobby an adolescent whose preoccupation with sexual i ty makes him (Arthur - l ike) a prisoner of i t . Lewis (Perceval - l ike) 35 i s k i l l e d by h i s l a c k o f r e s t r a i n t . Ed somewhat l i k e L a n c e l o t , almost goes mad w i t h t h e g r i e f o f t h e murder o f Bobby. L i k e L a n c e l o t , Ed i s c h a s t e n e d by t h e v i o l e n c e he r e l e a s e d i n h i s o r d e a l on t h e Cahulawassee. U n l i k e L a n c e l o t , h i s remorse g i v e s him n o t h i n g save t h e knowledge o f t h e v i o l e n c e he b u r i e s w i t h i n h i s own n a t u r e . A r t h u r i n "Zar d o z " i s Zed, a t w e n t y - t h i r d c e n t u r y tough who r e j e c t s e q u a l i t y w i t h women (and t h e G r a i l ) i n f a v o u r o f a m a s t e r - s l a v e r e l a t i o n -s h i p w i t h an a n t i - i n t e l l e c t u a l g i r l c a l l e d C o n s u e l l a . T h e r e i s no v i s i o n o f a p o s s i b i l i t y o f more i n Zed. He i s a rough-hewn, v i o l e n t " k n i g h t " whose v i o l e n c e i s not o n l y unredemptive, i t i s a l s o c r u e l . Zed i s A r t h u r as t h u g . F a t h e r Lamont's s p i r i t u a l a r i s e s i n " E x o r c i s t I I " makes him an A r t h u r i a n a n a l o g u e . With t h e p u r e s t o f i n t e n t i o n s , Lamont seeks a renewed f a i t h i n t h e c o n s e r v a t i s m o f t h e C a t h o l i c c h u r c h . Lamont, l i k e A r t h u r i s s i d e -t r a c k e d ( p s y c h o l o g i c a l l y ) by a l l u r i n g but e s s e n t i a l l y c o l d women. L i k e A r t h u r , F a t h e r Lamont c o n f u s e s s e r v i c e and c h i v a l r y w i t h more base f e e l i n g s . H i s q u e s t t o save Regan from h e r pagan p o s s e s s i o n r e s u l t s not i n a new i n t e g r i t y . I t r e s u l t s i n h i s d e a t h . Boorman's modern-day q u e s t o r s t h e n e i t h e r f a i l o u t r i g h t , o r g a i n a p y r r h i c v i c t o r y . The g r e a t e r knowledge o f man's own e v i l t a i n t s t h e s t r u g g l e and f i l l s i t w i t h a c t i o n t h a t has no r e a l consequence. In s h o r t , Boorman's A r t h u r i a n t r a n s f o r m a t i o n s a r e m o t i v a t e d men who must c o n f r o n t m e a n i n g l e s s c i r c u m s t a n c e . The t r a n s f o r m a t i o n s o f t h e l e s s e r c h a r a c t e r s as M e r l i n i n Boorman's f i l m s a r e even more i n t e r e s t i n g . M e r l i n f i g u r e s as A r t h u r Frayn ( F r a y n 36 equals Friend; Merlin i s f r i e n d of Arthur in the G r a i l legend) in "Zardoz" l i k e M erlin, Frayn i n s t r u c t s Zed in the ways of the Vortex. It i s Frayn who sets Zed upon d i s c o v e r i n g the t r u t h of the women c o n t r o l l e r s of the Vortex. For his d i s c l o s u r e the women of the Vortex, l i k e V i v i a n of the G r a i l legend, imprison Frayn into the body of an innocuous e f f e t e o l d man. Merlin i s Rosco i n "Leo the Last" who i n s p i r e s Leo to f i g h t f o r the black ghetto of his s t r e e t , as Me r l i n i n s p i r e s Arthur to f i g h t f o r his throne. In "Point Blank" M e r l i n i s Yost the man who we perceive as the policeman at the beginning of the f i l m . Yost M e r l i n - l i k e i s als o transformed into F a i r f a x , "godfather" of the syndicate which Walker i s t r y i n g to crack. Me r l i n of the G r a i l myth i s Arthur's mentor. In " E x o r c i s t I I , " Father Lamont's mentor i s Dr. Jean Tuskin. It i s she who acts as Lamont's guide in h i s s p i r i t u a l quest t o r i d Regan of her possession and in the process r e d i s c o v e r h i s f a i t h . Tuskin's magic i s a mind-synchronizing machine t h a t allows Lamont to t r a v e l i maginatively with Regan during one of her s e i z u r e s . As M e r l i n of the G r a i l myth was capable of s h a p e - s h i f t i n g , he often appeared in many d i f f e r e n t g u ises. Merlin was at d i f f e r e n t times, a young boy, a 17 c r i p p l e , a beggar, a hermit, a woodcutter, an old man, and even a shadow. Jean Tuskin, the p s y c h i a t r i s t - i n v e n t o r in E x o r c i s t II can M e r l i n - l i k e share the experience and understand the nature of Regan, and of Lamont, the man who seeks t o f r e e her. Merlin in the G r a i l legend,for a l l h i s sagaciousness, was a v i c t i m of hi s own passionate d e s i r e s . Vivian's charms subjugated Merlin and in the process took away hi s powers. Bobby i n "Deliverance" i s a M e r l i n - f i g u r e in t h a t h i s .preoccupation with h i s own s e x u a l i t y becomes the means through which Ed and Drew and Bobby must eve n t u a l l y face t h e i r l i m i t e d s t a t u r e . 37 In p l a y i n g t o t h e l a t e n t . b u r i e d s e x u a l i t y o f t h e a l l - m a l e macho group, Bobby awakens t h e p r e s e n c e o f h o m o s e x u a l i t y . When Bobby i s raped by one o f t h e Cahulawassee h i l l b i l l i e s , t h e s e x u a l n a t u r e o f t h e v i o l e n c e n e c e s s a r y t o bury t h i s f a c t e s s e n t i a l l y d e s t r o y s . Bobby,. Drew, and L e w i s . In t h e A r t h u r i a n legend M e r l i n c o u l d not o n l y t r a n s f o r m h i m s e l f , he c o u l d a l s o t r a n s f o r m t h e appearance o f o t h e r p e o p l e . M e r l i n t r a n s f o r m e d U t h e r i n t o G o r l o i s i n o r d e r t o beget A r t h u r from I g r a i n e . In " P o i n t B l a n k " Lynn, Walker's w i f e who has run o f f w i t h Mai Reese i s a s s i m i l a t e d i n t o C h r i s (Lynn's s i s t e r , w i t h whom Walker has an a f f a i r ) . L i k e Morgana o f t h e G r a i l myth who i s t h e f e m a l e e v i l c o u n t e r p a r t o f M e r l i n , Lynn both h a t e s and harms Walker. I t i s t h e memory o f h i s m a r r i a g e w i t h Lynn t h a t s e t s Walker upon h i s doomed q u e s t . Without l o v e Walker c o n f u s e s C h r i s and Lynn. H i s love-making t o them both ( i n memory) i s as a l i e n and as p o i s o n o u s as t h e empty money he s e e k s . Echoes o f Myth In d i s c u s s i n g h i s s e m i n a l t r e a t m e n t o f t h e A r t h u r i a n romance " E x c a l i b u r , " 18 Boorman h i m s e l f a d m i t t e d t o h i s l o n g - t i m e f a s c i n a t i o n w i t h t h e G r a i l l e g e n d . In t h o s e f i l m s i n which A r t h u r i a n themes and c h a r a c t e r s a r e e v i d e n t , Boorman had e i t h e r c o l l a b o r a t e d on t h e s c r i p t , worked c l o s e l y w i t h t h e w r i t e r , o r 19 had major p r o d u c t i o n c o n t r o l . Those r e c o n d i t e m o t i f s t h a t s u r f a c e i n h i s f i l m s a r e echoes o f themes and f o r c e s he f o u n d f i r s t i n t h e G r a i l l e g e n d . A p a r t from t h e h i g h - a d v e n t u r e o f t h e A r t h u r i a n romances, Boorman's i n t e r e s t i n t h e G r a i l myth made him l i k e Jung i n t e r e s t e d i n t h e n a t u r e o f our environment, inasmuch as t h a t environment p r o v i d e s a c o n t e x t t o examine man a t a p a r t i c u l a r moment o f h i s s o c i a l l i f e . The G r a i l myth p r o v i d e d f o r 38 Boorman a v i s i o n of a perceptual world t h a t was d i f f e r e n t t o h i s environment. T h i s "umwelt" t h i s perceptual i d e a l , i s the d r i v i n g f o r c e behind the quest. The G r a i l quest gave to Boorman a J u n g i a n - l i k e base to c o n s i d e r man's sexual i n t e r a c t i o n s t h a t run counter t o the mores of any given s o c i a l s t r u c t u r e in which we l i v e . More, the A r t h u r i a n romances a l l o w ' him to explore f u l l y the s p i r i t of man as t h a t s p i r i t i s d e r i v e d from a misty though s t i l l powerful mythological past. The echoes of the G r a i l myths t h a t are present in Boor-man's f e a t u r e f i l m s r e v e a l t h a t the quest i s one of the s e l e c t i v e f o r c e s t h a t shapes our s e x u a l i t y . That quest Boorman shows us i s fr a u g h t with sexual a n x i e t y . Boorman's f e a t u r e shows us again those areas of sexual contact t h a t has j e l l e d i n t o a standard by which we have co n s t r u c t e d our s o c i e t y . The message of the G r a i l legend i s t h a t apart from i t s r e p r e s s i o n of human s e x u a l i t y , man with f a i t h c o n t i n u a l l y s t r i v e s t o transcend i t s l i m i t a t i o n s . Boorman's f i l m s though r e v e a l i n g the r e s t r i c t i o n s and v i o l e n c e of a worn-out e t h i c show us those areas of human freedom not s o l e l y d e t e r -mined by the sexual i n s t i n c t , nor shaped by a simple C h r i s t i a n f a i t h . In the f a c e of the absurd, Boorman's questors have no guiding d i v i n i t y . Yet h i s heroes are not reduced t o Comus' Sisyphus f u n c t i o n a r y . Boorman's f i l m s r e v e a l t h a t t h e r e i s something transcending man. Unlike the r e l i g i o u s element i n the G r a i l myth, t h i s power i s not present ^n h i s t o r y as say the m a n i f e s t a t i o n of a God-figure. It i s instead merged w i t h i n man's d r i v e t o r i g h t what he pe r c e i v e s i s wrong, or t o seek an u l t i m a t e meaning. The echoes of myth in Boorman's f i l m s make h i s c h a r a c t e r s r e s t l e s s , d r i v e n s o u l s , who in the f a c e of l i f e ' s a b s u r d i t y o f t e n s t r i v e headlong i n t o o b l i v i o n . That s t r i v i n g however, i s not a S i s y p h u s - l i k e bovine i n s t i n c t i v e urge to b l i n d l y endure, i t i s a d r i v e i n which knowledge of human chaos i s learned. Hope f o r man in Boorman's f i l m s i s l i m i t e d , but hope i s immanent. 39 CHAPTER THREE: AESTHETICS - AN OVERVIEW Boorman's t e c h n i c a l u n i q u e n e s s b e g i n s w i t h t h e way he uses h i s camera. The p a r t i c u l a r c l i m a t e o r t o n e t h a t Boorman i n j e c t s i n t o t h e camera's f i e l d o f v i s i o n l i e s i n h i s use o f a b s t r a c t f r a m i n g , s u b j e c t i v e camera, and c a r e -f u l l y c o n t r o l l e d use o f c o l o u r . Boorman i s not i n t e r e s t e d p a r t i c u l a r l y i n p r e s e n t i n g s l i c e s o f r e a l l i f e . F o r Boorman, cinema was i n v e n t e d t o e x p r e s s t h e s u b c o n s c i o u s , t h e m y s t e r i o u s , t h e f a n t a s t i c . H i s images u n l i k e t h e neo-r e a l i s t s , p e n e t r a t e us d e e p l y i n t o p o e t r y . H i s use o f e l l i p t i c a l e d i t i n g , and montage, r e a d i l y s u b v e r t s t h e t r a d i t i o n a l l i n e a r n a r r a t i v e p r o c e s s . O f t e n t h e v i s u a l s a r e accompanied by t h e use o f an u n e a r t h l y , e l e c t r i f i e d , s y n t h e s i z e d sound such t h a t h i s f i l m s l e a p o u t beyond n a t u r a l i s m . The s p i r i t o f Boorman's work i s c l e a r l y a n i m i s t i c . A b s t r a c t Framing Take f o r example, h i s use o f a b s t r a c t f r a m i n g . In " D e l i v e r a n c e " as Bobby, Drew, Ed, and Lewis, speed toward t h e Cahulawassee R i v e r deep i n t h e h i l l s o f G e o r g i a we a r e p r e s e n t e d w i t h a f o r e - t a s t e o f t h o s e h i l l b i l l i e s whose l i f e has been broken by an urban t e c h n o l o g y t h a t has f a i l e d t o tame t h i s w i l d e r n e s s . Boorman frames t h e r u i n e d and r u s t i n g h u l k s o f o l d t r u c k s and r o t t i n g b u i l d i n g such t h a t t h e y merge w i t h t h e f o r e s t . He p r e s e n t s us w i t h r e p e a t e d images o f e f f o r t and d e s o l a t i o n a t t h e same t i m e . Moreover, as Lewis' j e e p r a c e s toward t h e r i v e r t o b e g i n t h e i r j o u r n e y , Boorman frames Ed.and Lewis b e h i n d t h e wheel o f t h e i r v e h i c l e . What i s r e f l e c t e d o f f t h e w i n d s h i e l d i s t h e t h r e a t e n i n g overhand o f t h e w i l d e r n e s s i t s e l f . A b s t r a c t l y , 4 0 Boorman blends two images --- of men and wilderness - - that he w i l l repeat over and over throughout the f i l m . In "Point Blank" (1967), t h i s same wind-shield shot i s used to present Walker, Lynn, and Mal Reese, subsumed by the c i t y . In "Leo the Last" ra in against a car windshield d i s to r ts the slum r e a l i t y that i s east-end London. Leo is prevented from seeing the stark r e a l i t y of hunger, of violence and of death, by a camera that r e f l ec ts only surreal patterns of l i gh t and darkness. Subjective Camera In "Exorcist II" (1977) Father Lamont's journey to A f r i ca to seek Kikumo i s photographed subject ive ly , such that we fee l the power of his mission. Boorman's zooming subjective camera, charges us with the power of that mission. In "Having a Wild Weekend" (1965), again in a mirror sequence, i t i s we, the audience who overcome the middle-aged a r i s tocra ts Nan and Guy . . . who for a short time rescue Steve and Dinah the runaway young stars of the f i l m . However, Boorman's subjective camera makes us_ fee l the desolation of aging and powerlessness as a culture turns i t s gaze only upon the young. In "Hel l in the P a c i f i c " (1968), there is a sequence in which Lee Marvin, the downed American f l y e r creeps up upon the camp of a Japanese so ld ier (Toshiro Mifune) with whom he shares the same p a c i f i c a t o l l . Boorman's camera moves through the jungle undergrowth. We as Marvin, are forced to crawl through swamps, and s l i t h e r through rain forests with the trepidat ion and excitement of a g u e r i l l a warr ior . In "Zardoz" (1973) Zed the warrior has f i n a l l y reached the heart of the Vortex and has become involved with a struggle between t h i s super computer (the Tabernacle C rys ta l ) . We as Zed are subject to a l ight-show epiphany not unl ike the surreal ins ide-outside 41 p r inc ip le depicted by Max Ernst. We par t ic ipate in a revelat ion because as Zed, the camera reveals to us past, present, and future g l i t t e r i n g , and distorted and swaying about us. Colour It i s "Leo the Last" (1969) that best reveals Boorman's control led use of colour. Simply, a comic ta le of r a c i a l i n j u s t i c e , becomes a bizarre fantasy of moral indignation through the care fu l l y repeated patterns of black and white that are everywhere in the f i l m . The i n t e r i o r of Leo's mansion is a geometric design in black and white. T i led f l oo rs alternate in black and white. Furniture and curtains in shiny opposites of these two colours, lend an elegance to the violence that is Leo's world. House guests l i k e Margaret (Leo 's ; f iancee) , are bedecked in white, the servants are in black. Everywhere the pattern i s extended and repeated. The slum grocery shop is a surreal col lage of blacks and white that mocks the r a c i a l tension that i s at the root of the f i l m . White cans are placed beside black boxes. Everywhere the basic dichotomy of race is juxtaposed by every black and white object and a r t i f a c t in the f i l m . The resu l t i s the creation of a "black" comedy more in the s p i r i t of Bunuel's "That Obscure , Object of Desire" than a less powerful narrat ive of a m i l l i o n a i r e with misplaced values. "Deliverance" (1972) works because of i t s desaturated colour. The Cahulawassee gorge and surrounding countryside are purposefully leached of colour by a developing process that removes any essence of the r ich greenness of a lush and i n v i t i n g natural world. Instead, Boorman "cools" the greens 42 such that the Cahulawassee is paled into a somber, threatening presence that i s the thematic core of the f i l m . In "Point Blank" (1967), we move from an opening of cold tones of gray and white (Alcatraz) through sequences increasingly r i ch in colour. From blues to greens we are moved to the lush reds of Brewster's Los Angeles home. Boorman is so intent on cont ro l l ing colour in "Point Blank" that even the hair colour and c loth ing of Chris (Angie Dickenson) i s dyed to duplicate each deepening colour of each successive scene. The resu l t i s a care fu l l y added dimension of distance that we perceive in Walker as he resolutely separates himself, in his last imagined vengeance-f i l led act of murder, from any contact with the real world. "Excalibur" (1981) is a l i gh t show of colour. It explodes in the v i v id shimmering colours of t e l e v i s i o n . Arthur 's c a s t l e , the forest in which Excalibur is released from the stone, Mer l in 's chambers, the Cornwall coast, Igraine's bed chamber, are excessively b r i l l i a n t . They are simply over-saturated with colour such that the magic, and the weight of the o r ig ina l myth is given the look of an exuberant te lev i s ion commercial. Edit ing Montage moves "Having a Wild Weekend" away from documentary and toward the sur rea l . The opening sequence in which Steve and Dinah escape London is presented as a col lage of d i rect ions , arrows, r e s t r i c t i o n s and rules that the ordinary London consumer/motorist i s faced with every day. Boorman's montage of pedestrian s igns, highway d i rect ions , and commercial b i l lboards , depowers these r e s t r i c t i o n s . They are seen to be flaunted by the youthful exuberance of the young couple as t h e i r f l i g h t from the c i t y i s musically 43 i n t e r a c t e d with short barrages of signs s i g n i f y i n g places not to go. Montage has become here the p e r f e c t v i s u a l analogue of ef f e r v e s c e n c e . The ending of the " E x o r c i s t I I " (1977), i s a slower montage of a l l the previous C h r i s t i a n and pagan elements of the e a r l i e r f i l m . Locusts, Bazoozoo, Regan, her double, the Georgetown house, and a raging f i r e , are a l l brought together in a sequence t h a t attempts to t i e those elements of s c i e n t i f i c humanism and mysticism together. The w i l d e s t cacophony of images of course, occurs when Boorman sets out to d i s t o r t time from any c h r o n o l o g i c a l r e a l - t i m e understanding com-p l e t e l y . The e l l i p t i c a l e d i t i n g of "Point Blank makes i t Boorman's most accomplished work. "Point Blank" i s more than a d a z z l i n g gangster f i l m t h a t moves both ahead or backward in time in r e v e a l i n g i t s own n a r r a t i v e . It i s a r i c h a l l e g o r y t h a t expresses the l a s t vengeful mindscape of a dying urban imagination. Walker's imagination, revealed in t h a t s p l i t second between one -gunshot and the second at point blank range, i s the subject of the f i l m . Boorman s t r u c t u r e s the f i l m l i k e the human imagin-a t i o n , consequences often being revealed before events t h a t caused them. "Point Blank" i s Boorman at his e x p r e s s i o n i s t i c best. One such episode t h a t i s a show-piece of e l l i p t i c a l e d i t i n g occurs when Walker and C h r i s , an o l d flame, are searching in Brewster's home f o r clues to the whereabouts of the money that has been cheated outoof .him by the syndicate. Walker, f a i t h f u l only to h i s quest f o r money angers Chris who attacks him. The f i g h t ends in a sexual encounter that Boorman uses to i n s e r t Walker's former a s s o c i a t i o n with Lynn, with Reese (a syndicate boss), and with Chris h e r s e l f . As Chris and Walker r o l l over on the f l o o r , C h r i s 44 becomes, Reese, Lynn, and h e r s e l f in an everchanging s e r i e s of r a p i d d i s s o l v e s t h a t r e c a l l not only the power of women i n the f i l m , but a l s o the s l i g h t l y skewed manner in which past, present, and f u t u r e are merged. Even in h i s documentary "The Great D i r e c t o r , " Boorman cuts a r c h i v a l footage of G r i f f i t h ' s f i l m s t o r e v e a l the p e r s o n a l , romantic, s t r u g g l e t h a t was G r i f f i t h ' s own l i f e . The r e s u l t i s a study of G r i f f i t h t h a t reduces him to a c a r i c a t u r e ; he becomes through a purposeful e d i t i n g s t y l e a c h a r a c t e r c o n s t r u c t e d out of h i s own product. Boorman's t r u t h about G r i f f i t h makes him a Southern romantic hero whose genteel southern values were spurned by an unconcerned urban America. Other l e s s i n s p i r e d biographers avoid Boor-man's r e d u c t i v e e d i t i n g ; they p e r c e i v e the g r e a t e s t American d i r e c t o r as single-minded t o a f a u l t . Sound-Track L i k e Altman and F e l l i n i , Boorman f i l l s h i s frames with j o s t l i n g humanity. For Boorman, the universe i s expansive, f u l l of p o t e n t i a l , yet skewed i n t o v i o l e n c e and a b s u r d i t y through one's d i s t o r t e d p e r c e p t i o n s and l i m i t e d understanding. D i s t o r t i o n becomes the motivator at every l e v e l f o r h i s cinematic o r i g i n a l i t y . Like Altman, and F e l l i n i , Boorman does not n e g l e c t t h a t h i s f i l m s have a sound-track. If b e l l s , s i r e n s , and gong's gi v e a dynamism to F e l l i n i ' s b i z a r r e dream world, and b i t s of c o n v e r s a t i o n , r a d i o broadcasts, and music, become l i t e r a l l y c h a r a c t e r s in Altman's universe ... Boorman's use of sound i s no l e s s o r i g i n a l or s i g n i f i c a n t in the r e a l i z a t i o n of h i s themes. Repeatedly, Boorman uses a m u l t i - l a y e r e d , d i s t o r t e d , o f t e n s y n t h e s i z e d sound t r a c k to secure in us the notion of the d i s l o c a t e d , a l i e n world i n t o which, h i s c h a r a c t e r s move. In " E x o r c i s t I I , " 45 fo r example the surreal ominous low humming of Dr. Tusk in ls .e lect ron ic b io -feedback mind-sharing machine, reveals in i t s changing tone, just when Father Lamont has entered the possessed world of Regan. Real ity and n ight -mare are l inked by sound. In "Leo the Last , " the two worlds' of a r i s t o c r a t i c ennui, and the soc ia l i n jus t ice of those of the s t reet , are defined by sound. As Rosco, the black spokesman of the poor of the ghetto is lead away for c i v i l disobedience outside Leo's mansion, the crowd is-songs of protest are suddenly synthesized into an eerie echo that prefigure the slow, mood-generated echo of "Dueling Banjoes" that shapes the nightmare of "Deliverance." "Hel l in the P a c i f i c " i s eerie because Boorman makes a f i l m essent ia l l y without a sound t rack . In utter s i lence we are forced to s t ra in to hear any noise that might mark the presence of two enemy so ld iers of a small p a c i f i c a t o l l . Sound here, i s s i lence , and Boorman uses i t e f f ec t i ve l y to magnify not only our attention span, but to sharpen and extend the cu l tu ra l animosity demanded by war. Technical ly then, Boorman is an innovator who has done much to advance the scope of cinema language. Despite an uneven box-of f ice fo l lowing , he has experimented with sound, colour, and camera, and in so doing reminded us of the stature of film-makers who came before. His narrat ives have more f u l l y rea l i zed the a b i l i t y of the cinema to break free of i t s l i t e r a r y and thea t r i ca l l i n e a r i t y . Boorman has brought the cinema of Bunuel, F e l l i n i , and Godard, to the masses, a lbe i t not always successfu l ly . His psychedelic cinema is often attached to a view of man that i s out of place with the changing mores of the times. Like G r i f f i t h , or Kurosawa fo r that matter, Boorman is a moral ist whoses values of s e l f - r e l i a n c e makes him a loner in the new p l u r a l i s t i c global v i l l a g e . Yet, when his narratives subvert his 46 tendency to be heavy-handed, John Boorman must s t i l l be judged as having made a s i gn i f i can t contr ibution to commercial cinema during one of i t s most exc i t ing times. CHAPTER- FOUR: "HAVING A WILD WEEKEND" (1965) 47 The most important mythic element in "Having a Wild Weekend" is Boorman's contemporary rendering of the questors amidst the wasteland. Beneath the surface optimism of his protagonists, who seek a world free from media exp lo i ta t i on , is a darker, pervasive anxiety. In the s p i r i t of the Gra i l legend, "Having a Wild Weekend" is about i n i t i a t i o n , and the r i t e s of passage. Boorman's depiction of the anxiety of his youthful questors is achieved through his rendering of a countryside that Boorman makes appear ominous and suspended in time. The use of telephoto tracking shots gives the atmosphere of "Having a Wild Weekend" a surreal ambience. More-over; those whom Steve and Dinah meet on t h e i r quest fo r freedom seem normal; yet Boorman places them in a mise-en-scene that i s s l i g h t l y skewed with soft l i g h t , t i gh t corners, and heavy dominating arch i tecture . The ef fect i s to place those whom Steve and Dinah meet as being themselves trapped in middle-age i n e r t i a , freaked-out naivete, or bourgeois hedonism. Like the Eternals in "Zardoz," or the household guests of "Leo the Last , " Boorman's wasteland in "Having a Wild Weekend" is rendered as a place where ordinary people are p i t i a b l y out of harmony with the accepted surface r e a l i t y of t h e i r l i v e s . The ambience Boorman captures in t h i s f i r s t feature f i l m sets the s ty le fo r a continued sur rea l , psychological rendering of the wasteland in f i lms to come. "Having a Wild Weekend," i s a f i l m about a cu l tu ra l anomaly. Its perception of rock stars is not as spoiled n a r c i s s i s t s . Rather they are depicted as s l i g h t l y d i s i l l u s i o n e d , nice young men. The f i l m belongs more 48 to the youthful genre pieces of Hay ley Mil l,s-, "Whistle Down the Wind" (1964) and "The Truth About Spring" (1965), than to the n i h i l i s t encounter of the hippie generation in f i lms l i k e "Easy Rider" (1969), of a few years l a te r . As such, Boorman's f i l m i c perception of "swinging London" of the mid -s ix t ies was so f u l l of tomboy innocence that i t could not last fo r more than a year or so. Yet Boorman's stake in giving shape to the new soc ia l ethic of youth was important, and should b r i e f l y be examined in the l i gh t of what America would la ter do to the subject matter, fo r i t gives us the f i r s t real clue to the s t ructura l motif around which "Having a Wild Weekend," was made. American filmmakers of the mid -s ix t ies were s t i l l r es t r i c ted by a r e s t r i c t i v e production code that severely l imited the treatment of certa in subject matter. For example, "The Long Hot Summer" (1958), wanted to be more, but couldn ' t . Nicholas Ray's success in "Rebel Without a Cause" (1955), owed i t s success, in part , to the depiction of the r i c h , comfortable, middle class home that bore James Dean and his hoodlum buddies, than to Dean's own unsettled ennui. In B r i ta in i t was the youthful permissiveness i t s e l f that so fascinated the media. America was new to t h i s fasc inat ion , and the Hollywood movie-makers came to look, and l i s t e n . In B r i t a i n , the box o f f i c e was t i r i n g of the soc ia l realism of "A Taste of Honey" (1961), "The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner" (1962), and " B i l l y L iar" (1963), and the emergence of a new counter-culture through i t s rock music gave impetus to a new legion of B r i t i s h d i rectors who would use th i s soc ia l phenomenon to t ry to in ject some new l i f e into a dying industry. John Boorman would himself use th i s phenomenon to make a detour out of news and t e l e v i s i o n documentary production. With the B.B.C. he would 49 d i rect a docu-drama series about how the young marrieds of his generation would respond to the change of the s i x t i e s . Such a background lead him to narrat ive , to the B r i t i s h f i l m industry, and to the Americans. Once the Americans however, learned how to t reat sexual and soc ia l mores with a B r i t i s h frankness, they went home to a relaxed production code in Hollywood and made "Bonnie and Clyde" (1976), "Easy Rider" (1969), and "Carnal Knowledge" (1971). In the process they took r i s i n g B r i t i s h writers l i k e Alexander Jacobs, and di rectors l i k e John Boorman back with them. Boorman's s ty le in "Having a Wild Weekend" is both an outgrowth of his documentary experience in B r i t i s h t e l e v i s i o n . It i s too, part ly a resu l t of Peter Nichols ' rather loose screenplay. When the theme, a quest to escape the crass commercialism of t e lev i s ion is a l l i e d to youthful ideal ism, the resu l t i s a s u r r e a l i s t i c , comic-farce that i s surpr is ing in i t s amount of compassion. Boorman's subject matter in "Having a Wild Weekend" i s the Dave Clark Five, a rock group as ent ic ing , though less popular, than The Beatles. Boorman's problem in shaping a f i l m around them is two - fo ld . F i r s t , he must give shape to a narrative structure that allows them to s ing , fo r . . . l i k e The Beatles' in "A Hard Day's Night" (1964) . . . that i s what the publ ic wants. Secondly, he must v i sua l i ze them as characters within a story, whose moral v is ion allows them to become uncertain spokesmen for an emerging new generation. The d i f f i c u l t y of "Having a Wild Weekend" l i e s in the t e r r i t o r y . No one has been there before. Richard Lester 's "A Hard Days' Night" (1964), 50 was r e a l l y l i t t l e more than a madcap musical . The Beatles, harassed by t h e i r manager and Paul McCartney's grandfather, leave Liverpool by t r a i n fo r a te lev i s ion appearance in London. The l ikeable Beatles reveal every s l i g h t l y i r reverent , cinematic gag in the book, and Lester covers no moral ground other than youthful exuberance. "A Hard Day's Night" was r e a l l y a happy sa t i re about the Beatles own phenomenon of success. Lester 's innovative dazzl ing camera caught the ambience of a swinging London, but i t was a London of kaleidoscopic e f f e c t s , not of people. In 1964, we are two years away from the n i h i l i s t i c , freaked-out anger of " A l i c e ' s Restaurant" (1969). Haight-Ashbury, Kent State, and the Columbia University r i o t s , are in 1964, l i t t l e more than tremors of unease. Boorman plants one foot f i rmly in the known exuberance of what he perceives, and the other f a l t e r i n g , hes i ta t ing ly , into the darkness that he senses ahead. His resul t ing v is ion i s , in hindsight two-faced. "Having a Wild Weekend" is a celebration of early pop-culture, yet at the same time i t i s a mild reaction to the optimism that same culture i n i t i a l l y embodied. Being about youth,, i t is a love story . . . e l e c t r i c , winsome, yet portentous of a tragedy i t could not know. Perhaps in 1965, i t was jus t impossible to make a f i l m about the young, fo r t h e i r voice was s t i l l being born. The plot is simple. The hero, Steve (Dave Clark) i s the leader of a pop group of musical stuntmen who are part of a nationwide B r i t i s h te lev i s ion commercial campaign to encourage the consumption of meat. The heroine, Dinah (Barbara Fer r i s ) i s the face that car r ies the campaign and i t s slogan "MEAT FOR GO" to m i l l i o n s . Steve and Dinah f l e e from the advert ising campaign that has begun to dominate the i r l i v e s . Tra i led c lose ly by t h e i r 51 associates, they leave a conglomerate inspired media fantasy-world, in search of a more personal one. In t h e i r f l i g h t from London to the West Country they chance upon various l i f e - s t y l e s that pose as a l ternat ives to the world of media-hype that they have f l e d . Enroute they encounter a group of hippies who are rounded up by the sudden appearance of the Royal Marines. Steve and Dinah evade t h e i r capture by being rescued by middle-aged, af f luent complacency in the form of the ever watchful and w is t fu l couple Nan (Yootha Joyce) and Guy (Robin Ba i ley ) . From beat a l ienat ion to a r i s t o c r a t i c catatonia to rural cap i ta l ism, Steve and Dinah are shaken by what they see. They seek an i d y l l i c is land off the South Coast in order to be saved from c i v i l i z a t i o n . A las , D inah 's , is land is l i t t l e more than another corrupted t o u r i s t mecca. More, the is land harbours the media bosses who have been waiting for them to show up (of course the media people know everything)! Dinah is deluged by the media in what has been a care fu l l y scr ipted ploy of her "abduction" in order to gain even more exposure for the "MEAT FOR GO" campaign. Dinah is nudged back to London and the advert is ing l i f e , and David sensing the f u t i l i t y of i t a l l , i s l e f t behind alone. The episodic nature of "Having a Wild Weekend" brings i t close to melodrama. What saves i t from being l i t t l e more than an upbeat s t y l i zed bittersweet chase f i l m , i s that the melodrama in some of the episodes is very good melodrama. That i s , the madcap chase is slowed in certa in moments during the quest such that Boorman forays into areas of uncertainty such as :. among the hippies of Dartmoor, and with the i d le r i ch in Bath, that the two runaway lovers become less stereotyped and more honest in dealing with real sentiment. We are touched by t h e i r tenuous understanding 52 of who they are because Boorman ventures to say we do not rea l l y know who we are ourselves. Boorman plays care fu l l y with our own youthful nostalgia in such scenes, and one or two of them deserves to be examined c lose ly fo r the aesthetic that brings them of f . The f i r s t real pause Boorman makes with Steve and Dinah a f ter t h e i r irreverent f l i g h t from London and the crass demands of commercialism, i s an uneasy pause among a group of hippies who have taken over some abandoned buildings set deeply in the wastes of Dartmoor. Boorman prepares us fo r t h i s darker episode through two enchanting sequences in which the improbable becomes r e a l . While in London, both swim in an abandoned outdoor swimming pool . . . in midwinter; and Dinah reveals to Steve an orange tree blooming j o y f u l l y in the protected shade of the Crystal Palace. For the moment, dreams win.out. However, with the encounter of the hippies on Dartmoor, a d i f fe rent more sober r e a l i t y i s to intrude. Boorman's depiction of the Dartmoor hippies reveals to us the range of his understanding toward t h i s growing counter -culture. More within the narrat ive structure i t provides a means fo r our very mad, very a f f luent , runaways, to sense t h e i r rootlessness in the extreme. The-encounter i s depicted through a d iscrete camera that keeps us mid-distance from the hippies. They have become squatters in one of the abandoned bui ldings that Boorman is careful to echo the dere l ic t ion of t h e i r own l i v e s . Boorman shows us a regression to pr imit iv ism by s i tuat ing the hippies around a central open-pit f i r e burning within the one-time " l i v i n g room" of one deserted bu i ld ing . Boorman pays careful attention to the: mise-en-scene 53 here by arranging the drop-outs in a curve radiat ing from the f i r e to the doorway through which Steve and Dinah are to enter in a manner that reveals the degree of commitment each have, to t h i s sub-culture. At the doorway, Steve and Dinah are greeted by one of the group who is unsure of her place in e i ther environment. She appears, dressed as Dinah, with the remnants of high fashion, as i f she belongs more eas i l y among Steve's partying cohorts tnan she does among the f i r s t s t i r r i n g s of hippie d isqu iet . Her speech is reveal ing; "You don't look l i k e weekend rovers," she says to Dinah . . . a comment meant to be suggestive of a boundary she has crossed. It is both a temporary disdain fo r those who "rough i t " only part time, as well as a statement of longing fo r the cessation of the ongoing ennui that has enveloped her here. As Boorman takes us c loser to the nexus of t h i s new cu l ture , we move through the r i t u a l s of t r i b a l i s m (pot-smoking a l i enat ion ) , past anger, and denial ("She's that butcher -g i r l . . . "Meat For Go!") , f i n a l l y at the f i r e ' s edge, we meet the hard-core committed mentor of hippie-dom in the character of Yano. Being "on the go" a l l are attracted to Yano's quest, fo r Yano has gone everywhere . . . even to Tibet. Yet he cannot communicate what he has learned by dropping out. Yano is strung-out, burned out, and mixed up. Boorman presents to us in Yano an early Catholic v is ion of the future of the hippie movement. Boorman does not take us any more deeply into the darker side of the spawning hippie movement. Rather, he keeps us with Steve and Dinah, on the s t i l l respectable edge of i t . By not l inger ing for more than a passing encounter with Yano, Boorman brings off two things. F i r s t , he is able to maintain our sympathies towards the protagonists in t h e i r anti-establishment 54 stance. More importantly, he provides us with a greater shock value in our encounter with Yano, and what he represents. In moving away from Yano, as quickly as we were drawn to him, Boorman establishes the power of his documentary technique. Reminiscent of Pina's death in "Rome Open City" (1945), we see in Yano a fact of l i f e ; we see the action from the outside, ob ject ive ly . The camera merely "records" a r e a l i t y that i s dramatic in i t s e l f . Steve and Dinah can do nothing, nor can we. To l inger would be to d i f fuse the r e a l i t y of his condition with pathos. Those about Yano draw from him not meaning but fear , and we are made to fear with them. A l l that is l e f t is fo r Steve and Dinah to go on. Boorman's in te rv iew- l ike s ty le describes a r e a l i t y ; we are l e f t to perceive i t s s ign i f icance ourselves. The a r r i v a l of a squad of Royal Marines that round up the hippies and force Steve and Dinah on, has disquiet ing symbolic overtones. Here instead of documentary tenuousness, Boorman's sty le becomes excessive to the point of comedy. Tanks, guns, grenades descend upon the group of detractors, whom as we have just seen, are more helpless than harmful. The point of the excess i s , however very black. Again Boorman reveals to us a world view that sees society wholly intolerant towards those who would f launt the system. The ef fect of the excess however, masks t h i s b ru ta l i t y in a strange innocence. Its a b i t l i k e the Keystone Cops f i l m s . Cops aren't "p igs" , they are part of the fun. Here, the sold iers are almost dwarfed by the very magnitude of the attack, and Boorman shows us through t h i s d ispar i ty a b ru ta l i t y that i s i l l u s o r y . Here, Boorman's s t y l i s t i c extremes of "hit -and-run" documentary with redundant burlesque are complimentary, in that we go forward with Steve's and Dinah's hesitant anxiety whose locus is unclear. We don't fear Yano, and we can't r ea l l y fear the army. Yet 55 beneath i t a l l is a sense of unease. Boorman uses t h i s surrealism to advantage to create th i s same unease in la ter f i lms such as "Leo the Last ." The next encounter Boorman thrusts Steve and Dinah in to , seems safe. It i s n ' t . Fleeing the war zone that the hippie camp has become, Steve and Dinah are picked up by a spoiled but sympathetic middle-aged couple and taken into l i f e among the le isure c l a s s . Bath and the "Great Homes" of the eighteenth,century, provides a-setting as r i ch as Yano's was sparse. Nan and Guy are e f fe te , decadent and bored. With money to keep t h e i r anxiety presumably at bay, Nan and Guy become c a r i c a t u r e - l i k e funct ionar ies . Their l i ves are reduced to game playing. They play "watch the other," and "coming on with the young." L i f e fo r Nan and Guy i s n ' t based on purpose or b e l i e f . "We heard about your l a rk , " says Guy. Boorman v isua l i zes them in closed environments . . . a den, a kitchen, in the family "Bentley," in front of the f i rep lace . . . a l l sett ings with t i gh t corners such that Nan and Guy are revealed so as to be trapped by t h e i r aff luence. More, Boorman u t i l i z e s close-ups of them . . . an ef fect that creates an intimacy such that they are revealed as being frightened and vulnerable in moments when t h e i r upper class-consciousness is le t down. Like the hippies, Nan and Guy "don't do anything; they are ' c o l l e c t o r s ' . " They l i v e together but as Guy retorts "Nan has her pieces; I have mine." Guy co l l ec ts old photographic apparatus, and Nan, old costumes. Both are a r t i f a c t s wholly in keeping with the theme of the narrat ive. Simply Nan and Guy have become anachronist ic ; they are as threatened by youth as the hippies are by the establishment. The dif ference between Nan and Guy and the hippies, Boorman makes c lear i s that t h e i r ennui i s less threatening 56 to society at large. Nan and Guy can however perceive t h e i r s i tuat ion where the hippies cannot, and hence the encounter between t h i s eccentr ic , sad couple, and Steve and Dinah is touching and reveal ing. Guy, "co l l ec ts the pop art of h is to ry , " he says to Dinah when he has maneuvered her into his den. Images of the past abound daguerrotypes, old projectors, zoe-tropes . . . as do mirrors. His house is wired and f u l l of passages for watching and l i s t e n i n g . Guy's perceived threat i s what Steve and Dinah represent . . . "the cal lous hopefulness of young people." Nan echoes the nature of Guy's d isquiet with Steve, whom she too has maneuvered into her kitchen . . . " i s n ' t i t awful how everyone gets o l d . " Simply, Boorman is showing us that t h i s befriending of Steve and Dinah i s not concerned with lechery, so much as with nosta lg ia . Nan and Guy have lost t h e i r power; Steve and Dinah must f ind t h e i r s . The layers of attractiveness and fear that permeate into Steve's and Dinah's own awareness, i s i t s e l f defused again by a wonderful costume party that i s as effervescent as i t i s symbolic. Within the narrat ive structure, i t allows fo r the rest of the Dave Glark Five and t h e i r youthful entourage to catch up to the runaways; i t allows for music; and i t points symbolical ly to an escape into the past that portends as a v iable a l te rna -t i v e fo r our protagonists who can!t seem to f i t i n . I t ' s f i t t i n g that Boorman should choose a masquerade party u t i l i z i n g characters from the movies as his motif.- At the s u p e r f i c i a l l e v e l , the party goers as Steve and Dinah (in t h e i r commercial enterprise) are media creat ions. More s ign i f i can t perhaps, is that Boorman is c a l l i n g attention to a media that shapes and d is to r ts a r e a l i t y by i t s very presence. It i s quite possible that Boorman's i n a b i l i t y to re f l ec t a changing youth culture 57 with a greater certa inty i s his own private comment upon the l imited scope of his documentary s t y l e . It i s interest ing to note that Boorman would continue to move away from the depiction of a soc ia l r e a l i t y , and . . . with f i lms l i k e "Deliverance," "Zardoz," and "Excal ibur , " move into the realm of nightmare, fantasy, and myth. The costume party bubbles over with a wonderful surrealism that i s reminiscent of the comic interruptions of the Marx Brothers in "Night at the Opera.! 1 :' A l l are there; Nan and Guy and t h e i r "se t , " as well as the Dave Clark F ive, the pol ice and the media people who have been chasing everyone. Keystone Cops, Laurel and Hardy, cowboys, Indians, Sabu (Steve), the Sheik of Araby, Jean Harlow, Chaplin (Nan) . . . a l l become dissolved into each other. Pursuer and pursued, anxious and complacent, are a l l melded into a comic farce of "catch me i f you can" and "hide and seek," that s p i l l s over into the countryside and allows for the quest to begin anew. By now, we sense as do Steve and Dinah, that a solut ion to t h e i r d isquiet is not forthcoming. Boorman again is pushing toward the a l legor -i c a l . This madcap group of nostalgic eccentr ics J_s i t s own meaning. The quest, at whatever level . . . po l ice a f ter the runaways, Nan and Guy a f ter t h e i r lost youth, Steve and Dinah after meaning . . . i t s e l f has paled the bewilderment that Boorman has touched upon momentarily in an episode of sheer joy. Connecting these episodes in which Steve and Dinah begin to sense t h e i r vu lne rab i l i t y are the chase scenes themselves. The st ructura l formula for "Having A Wild Weekend" is largely episodic with the chase sequences themselves into the narrat ive. These connecting sequences are them-selves not merely loose bonds. Each has a d i f ferent cinematic s ty le and 58 hence a d i f fe rent mood that Boorman u t i l i z e s to counterpoint those moments of seriousness in the narrat ive . By u t i l i z i n g such c lear s t y l i s t i c a l l y d i f ferent means in each connecting sequence, Boorman's overal l e f fect i s a somewhat confused f i l m . Yet th i s freshness that pervades the chaos does, surpr is ing ly , breathe the a i r of the new young. The f i r s t chase sequence begins when Steve and Dinah choose to f l e e London and i t s arrant commercialism and to search with boundless optimism for a f reer l i f e in the country. The s ty le of t h i s sequence is pure documentary; the tone i s i r reverent . Boorman chooses to intercut t h e i r opulent f l i g h t with a London that intrudes. Signs are everywhere, t r a f f i c signs, commercial advert ising signs, signs of demolit ion, and signs of d i rect ion present themselves l i t e r a l l y in front of Steve and Dinah's : escape route. Intercut with t h i s , Boorman gives us glimpses of London of the everyday . . . a young woman pushing a cradle , a banker going to work, school chi ldren drawing g r a f f i t i : The ef fect of t h i s documentary montage is two- fo ld . F i r s t l y , we see quite b r i e f l y , but from an objective distance the tedium and weariness of people's l i ves who have chosen to accept and f i t - i n into the required ro le . Men, women, ch i ld ren , a l l notice and are affected by Dinah's presence in the "MEAT FOR GO" campaign that i s part of the montage. Their involvement we note is l imited only to a v icar ious enjoyment of the good l i f e . Boorman early on is very much aware of the power of the media. Boorman has Steve and Dinah f l e e from London in one day and night such that we see a l l the r e s t r i c t i v e messages of the ads and road signs. Through t h i s montage London becomes coercive with signs . . . "Stop," "move l e f t , " "narrow bridge" are juxtaposed with commercial and career messages 59 that repress, bind, crimp, and control those who would stay. The f lash ing neon of "swinging London" by night becomes not a t t rac t i ve but b l ind ing . Boorman has our protagonists dr ive through th i s maze with a speed and a verve that neutral izes a l l the prohibit ions with an irreverence that establishes our sympathy with them for the rest of the f i l m . That Steve and Dinah are in a "Jaguar" and t h e i r producer pursuers fo l low a "mini" makes no d i f ference. If anything, the mini enhances the weaseling presence of creeping commercialism that plays a major ro le in the working out of the narrat ive . The second chase sequence occurs when Steve and Dinah must f l e e the i r encounter with the hippies and the Royal Marines. Boorman's s ty le here is much less f renet ic than the rapid intercutt ing of a documentary r e a l i t y that confined our heroes in the f i r s t sequence. Here, Boorman chooses a slow-moving almost l y r i c camera that i s per fect ly in keeping with the d isbe l ie f and doubt that i s beginning to enfold them. The "Jaguar" has been blown up by the advancing marines, and Steve and Dinah have been picked up by the a r i s tocrats and t h e i r Bentley. The l y r i c s ty le that captures t h e i r second sequence creates a s u r r e a l i s t i c mood that Boorman uses to cast even more strangeness into the p lo t . Telephoto tracking shots make the Bentley f l o a t through the English countryside. Boorman's slow pans of the state ly homes and parks of the West Country creates a sense of movement that is de l iberate ly languid. More, Boorman has introduced into t h i s sequence an agent provocateur, a spy, in the infamous "mini" that has spotted t h e i r f l i g h t to Bath. His telephone presence, and the grandeur of the depiction of the Great C i r c l e in Bath where Nan and Guy w i l l take Steve and Dinah, makes for a surreal 60 cops and robbers encounter that adds subterfuge and v ig i lance to a story of a couple who have done nothing but leave an ostensibly negative s i t u a t i o n . The overa l l e f fect of t h i s second sequence is the creation of a sense of guarded in te rest . As the Bentley f l oa ts towards Bath, we hear in voice over, passing comments of ennui that w i l l become s i g n i f i c a n t when Nan and Guy are more revealing at home. The ef fect of the sweeping pans causes us to take the stance of a sent ine l . We become on the sharp lookout fo r some-thing that seems just about to happen. As we observe the runaways from a great distance speeding towards Bath, we are drawn to t h i s black limousine whose purpose and d i rect ion is unknown. The ever-pursuing Mini-Cooper becomes in place of us, and the r e a l i t y of the action moves beyond i t s e l f to an impending sense of something more. By purposefully slowing down t h i s sequence, more things have become implied. This surrealism achieves an expression of Boorman's theme; that l i f e outside the a r t i f i c i a l fantasy of media commercialism i s , i t s e l f , strange and impenetrable. The t h i r d chase sequence occurs after the costume party when po l i ce , t e l e v i s i o n commercial producers, and the Dave Clark youthful entourage, fo l low Steve and Dinah to t h e i r fabled i s land . This chase i s a s ty l i zed copy of the cops and robbers c l a s s i c chase sequenceia la Mack Sennet. It i s f u l l of h igh - j inx and near misses. Its mood however i s strangely in t rus ive , because as Steve and Dinah experience more of l i f e in t h e i r f l i g h t they have become close - - drawn together in reaction to the increas-ing uncertainty they have witnessed about them. In t h i s sequence, there is tod a s h i f t of attention away from Steve and Dinah to a depiction of the group that pursues them. A l l . . . the 61 bungling commercial producers, the po l ice , and the Dave Clark group-- -are presented as stereotypes in the extreme, that lends yet another a i r of unreal i ty to the narrat ive. The lead car of t h i s pa r t i cu la r chase sequence is a modified go-kart , cum dune-buggy. The Dave Clark entourage hanging from i t , s t i l l in costume from the night previous i s not unl ike the vehicle or the pantomime group that Antonioni u t i l i z e s fo r his s u r r e a l i s t i c exploration of "swinging London" in "Blow-Up" (1966). In t h i s sequence, roads are forsaken for cross-country tracks through val leys and f i e l d s . Cops, robbers, and producers are shot cavorting through the Downland. Winter snow provides the appropriate skids and crashes while in the foreground Steve and Dinah, unmoved by a l l t h i s a c t i v i t y , look beyond to the i s land . The int rus ive ef fect of t h i s las t h igh- j inx chase is achieved through Boorman's p a r a l l e l development of what i s happening to Steve'and Dinah in the narrat ive . Shock, unease and fear has drawn them together, and they have expressed t h i s closeness increasingly throughout. They have walked together on Dartmoor, and have f ro l i cked in the winter snows on the Down-land. Such development is corny and overdone, yet in re la t i on to the desperation, v io lence, and absurdity about them, such closeness is welcome. When at las t t h i s chase sequence catches up to them at Louis' Ranch, Steve and Dinah are no longer caught up by the a c t i v i t y . We get a sense that they are just about to be revealing of t h e i r new emotional attachment to each other when the gang comes j o y f u l l y crashing i n . S t y l i s t i c a l l y , Boorman has come f u l l c i r c l e . The commercialism that distanced Steve and Dinah from themselves and each other at the outset of the f i l m , has now been 62 transferred to the group that ostensibly has come to save them. Steve and Dinah have moved beyond adolescent exuberance; Boorman's h i - j i n x chase sequence breaks into t h i s new awareness and prevents i t from coming to f r u i t i o n . In terms of the narrative structure, i t i s a b r i l l i a n t move that the rescuers are depicted as intruders, in that the island - - the dream source of t h e i r f l i g h t . must ult imately be the source for the f i n a l d i s i l l u s i o n -ment. When at las t Steve and Dinah do part on the causeway from the is land , Boorman brings us sadly back to a recognition that t h e i r wi ld weekend was l i t t l e more than a moment's r e s p i t e , i n a world uncompromising in i t s demand fo r conformity. "Having a Wild Weekend" is then a short term f r o l i c with respectably-alienated youth of the early 60 's . The f i l m is not just a vehicle fo r the pop music of r i s i n g 60's young s tars . The Dave Clark Five don't sing d i r e c t l y in the f i l m ; t h e i r music merely adds a background fo r actions that place them closer to the f i f t i e s than to the seventies that beckons darkly ahead. Boorman's f i l m inevi tably f a i l e d at the box o f f i c e not just because i t was too uneven in tone and character. Boorman t r i e d I think to do too much. In making a moral statement out of essent ia l l y a musical genre offshoot, Boorman found himself in f i l m i c material that is mutually exclus ive . Yet, "Having a Wild Weekend" is a fa r better f i l m than "Help" or "A Hard Day's Night" just because i t introduces us to elements'-of unease within th i s youthful phenomenon. After an hour, rock music alone is boring. "Having a Wild Weekend" never bores. It confuses us with i t s pace, and i t angers, us with i t s tenuousness. It i s a'''film that doesn't know i t s time, perhaps 63 because r e a l l y i t s time never ex isted. We know that nice kids don't r e a l l y play rock music, and when they do they make an a l l y out of commercialism. Protest would quickly become big business. Boorman's f i l m t r i e d to in ject an idealism that i s charming into a mi l ieu that- he secret ly knew was s e l f - d e s t r u c t i v e . "Having a Wild Weekend" reveals that John Boorman's moral v is ion must be considered as ser iously as the docu-mentary aesthetic from whence he came. CHAPTER FIVE: "POINT BLANK" (1967) "Point Blank" was John Boorman's f i r s t feature f i l m made in America. It was largely panned by the c r i t i c s , but had enormous commercial success at the box o f f i c e . It was popular not only because i t was an o r ig ina l and ene rgy - f i l l ed t h r i l l e r that had i t s roots in the popular American gangster f i l m , but also because i t went beyond the confines of the genre to become Boorman's personal assessment of contemporary urban American l i f e . In "Point Blank," Boorman reveals an ease in moving into new subjects and foreign cul tures , while s t i l l retaining the a b i l i t y to enter into a pa r t icu la r project with ideas that were an integral part of his own developing world view. What Boorman does in "Point Blank" is to work through a popular American genre, while at the same time concerning him-se l f with those larger aspects -of l i f e he wishes to communicate. "Point Blank" then, uses the gangster formula, and in using i t , Boorman shapes i t , and modifies the genre with the perspective and aesthetics of a modernist. As such, "Point Blank" moves forwards and backwards in i t s own internal narrat ive (as do so many other Boorman f i lms) towards an a l l e g o r i c a l statement about man's re lat ionship to his urban environment. Moreover-, i t bui lds upon those transformations of character tha-t make sexual i ty so compelling in the Gra i l myth. The narrat ive core of "Point Blank" is in the best t r a d i t i o n of the American crime f i l m . It i s , a story of betrayal , r e t r i b u t i o n , mystery, and a f f a i r s of the heart. Walker (Lee Marvin) along with his wife Lynn (Sharon Acker) i s convinced to help an old-t ime syndicate f r iend Mal 65 Reese (John Vernon) steal 93,000 do l lars from the Organization. The heist takes place during a regular hel icopter pick-up of syndicate money from a pre-arranged drop point within an old c e l l - b l o c k courtyard on deserted Alcatraz Island. Reese plans to give back to the Organization some of i t s own money as a way of s e t t l i n g his debt. However, once he has the money, Reese shoots Walker twice at point-blank-range, and leaves him to die in an Alcatraz c e l l . Reese and Walker's wife Lynn, then run off together. In that moment between Walker's f a t a l shooting, and his death the story r e a l l y begins. Cinematical ly , Boorman brings to l i f e a story to ld in the unravel l ing of consciousness that occurs in the process of dying. We l i v e with Walker in his meta - l i fe as he seeks a mental re t r ibut ion fo r his betrayal . In the larger sense he l i k e Perceval seeks a j u s t i f i c a t i o n fo r his real l i f e and death. In ou t l i ne , the story hardly seems worth a second look. It is reminiscent of the c l a s s i c gangster f i l m p lo t . Walker, perhaps l i k e Rico in " L i t t l e Caesar" (1930), i s i n f l e x i b l e in his assault on the syndicate. We admire Walker's d r ive , his choice to regain the share of what i s r i g h t f u l l y h i s . But Walker, l i k e Rico is a c r im ina l . He is a c o l d -blooded Orpheus of the Underworld who resolutely seeks those inhabitants of the c i t y who have betrayed him. Walker, l i k e Rico f inds his way to the top of the cr iminal element. He does in the end, recover his money i f nothing e l se . Rico 's death on the other hand allows us to stop taking sides with a gangster. Rico 's drive for success has him cross boundaries of soc ia l convention and human dependency that we hold dear. Mervyn LeRoy must have Rico k i l l e d such that our own values of r ight and wrong are reasserted. Walker however doesn't d ie . He i s , i t must be remembered a l l throughout "Point Blank," r e a l l y already dead. His meta - l i f e , that 66 momentary interval between the shooting and his death, however becomes -our nemesis. Walker's meta - l i fe provides no reso lut ion , no c lue , to the s p i r i t u a l element that might give his l i f e a t rag ic cathar is . Walker in "Point Blank" is an anti -hero whose l i f e - i n - d e a t h not only forces a wholesale reshaping of the gangster genre, he i s a questor that reveals the schism between the quest and the goal,of the quest. For Walker, as fo r Steve in "Having a Wild Weekend^" the quest i s u n f u l f i l l i n g because the Gra i l symbol (money) i s only a manifestation of ego. The f i l m is not episodic ; i t doesn't bui ld upon what has gone before. "Point Blank" is constructed in a host of sty les reminiscent of Godard, Renais, and the New Wave. It also pays homage to the s l i c k directness of the James Bond t h r i l l e r . Boorman's task in "Point Blank" is to bring to l i f e the imagined l i f e that ex is ts only in a dying consciousness. Memory, hopes, past experience, and d i s t o r t i o n , are the mechanisms of Walker's interregnum. Hence the mechanisms of memory become the cont ro l -l i ng factors in Boorman's s t y l e . Imagination threatened by impending death, cannot be cont ro l led . In dupl icat ing t h i s inner l i f e Boorman u t i l i z e s f l ash forwards from consequence to causative act ion , repet i t ions in freeze-frame, and slow motion, fever ish jump-cutting, obscure and m u l t i p l i c i t e e lect ron ic sound e f f e c t s , sequences that are extended echoes of ones we have seen before, inversions, and a highly bizarre use of colour. Aes thet ica l l y , i t is Boorman's most ambitious and most successful treatment, and i t c lea r l y reveals a d i rector who i s in complete cont ro l . There is so much confusion in t h i s highly s t y l i zed and express-i o n i s t i c f i l m that i t is d i f f i c u l t at times to fo l low. But i t is a purposeful.and calculated confusion that is in keeping with i t s theme. 67 "Point Blank" marks Boorman's emergence as a d i rector of note because i t s theme is a r i c h statement of the perverseness of the misperceived twent ieth-century quest. The aesthetics of "Point Blank" are' too s i m i l a r l y complex. It duplicates for us, a psychological process. More than that , i t reveals a psychotic r e a l i t y that i s meant to be expressive of urban American l i f e . "Point blank" is the best of Boorman's f i lms in which character and s ty le merge. In Walker's interregnum l i f e , we get a picture of a man who is haunted by a f u l l e r past, and driven by urges pointing only to a desolate future. Action and memory in Walker's interregnum are wholly incompatible. As such, he is a man at odds with himself. Walker fee ls and is vulnerable. Yet he is embarked resolutely on amission that does not allow for f e e l i n g . Walker i s not what he pretends to be . . . a cool ly contro l led man of act ion . He is a man who needs to reveal himself. The tragedy is that Walker ex is ts in a world where such revelat ion is grounds only fo r betrayal . Walker's interregnum l i f e i s not just an imaginative l i f e , i t i s a memory-hope of a l i f e with no centre. The imagined l i f e , the l i f e revealed between the two point-blank shots, is a hollow l i f e . The r e a l i t y of i t , as we perceive the intent of f i l m ' s narrat ive , means nothing. Walker's imagined l i f e becomes a v icar ious experience. Walker's death a sp l i t -second a f ter the second shot means nothing, because the l i f e he sought . . . based on ret r ibut ion is essent ia l l y barren. His death means nothing because his l i f e meant nothing in human terms. He is a questor without the n o b i l i t y of a genuine epiphanic quest. The nasty part of "Point Blank" however, l i e s in the connections Boorman makes within the imagined l i f e he constructs fo r Walker, and the 68 real images of urban America he uses as a backdrop for his interval existence. Los Angeles and San Francisco are portrayed as ind i f fe rent , cold concrete wastelands. They are revealed as extensions of a gangster mentality whose existence is a l l deception. As Walker searches out in his interregnum for Reese, his k i l l e r , he takes us into the body of the American c i t y , and into the heart of the heart of the urban soul . For Boorman, the organization, the syndicate, becomes the perfect metaphor fo r urban America. Walker's l i f e - i n - d e a t h search for Reese takes us through various levels in the hierarchy of the organizat ion. There i s John Stegman (Michael Strong), a syndicate man who t r i e s to evade know-ledge of Reese's whereabouts. He owns "Big John's" car dealership. There is Frederick Carter (Lloyd Bochner), an organization dealer who l i ves a hidden l i f e in a penthouse that overlooks his pa r t icu la r stake of urban t e r r i t o r y . Carter i s the executive whose v is ion of the c i t y is seen only in terms of real estate. His body-guards at his Stewart Apartment bui lding are testament to a public l e g a l i t y in name only. Brewster (Carro l l O'Conner), i s the syndicate boss who l i ves beyond the t e r r i t o r i a l imperative of the i n n e r - c i t y . Brewster l i ves in a suburban dream house with a l l the gadgets of the a f f luent . His l i f e has a l l the trimmings; a gardener, a pool , and a bul let -proof Cadi l lac limousine. Brewster comes and goes for a l l intents and purposes, as would a prominent lawyer, or a d i s t r i c t attorney, or a public o f f i c i a l . Brewster's connections however, lead him back to the very bowels of the c i t y , to the storm drains where those l i k e Walker, and others, who would cross the syndicate, are flushed away by unknown hit-men who lurk in the wings. Yost (Keenan Wynn), whom we suspect as a policeman in the opening of the f i l m i s , in r e a l i t y , Fa i r fax, the "Godfather" of the sprawling urban 69 organizat ion. Yost /Fa i r fax is the Mer l in - f igure in the f i l m . Al l -power-f u l and untouchable, he needs neither a " c a s t l e , " nor protect ion. Yost / Fairfax as godfather, i s Boorman's expression of the deception that i s so pervasive. For Boorman the gaining of rank within a criminal organization, i s the mark of achieving complete freedom of act ion . Yost /Fa i r fax is so above the law, he becomes l i k e P e t r i ' s hero in "Investigation of a C i t i zen Above Suspicion." The c i t y at large, o f f i c e towers, n ight -c lubs , penthouses, i s for Boorman, the element that n u l l i f i e s the p o s s i b i l i t y of a real l i f e fo r any of his characters. Within t h i s wasteland environment, Walker's interregnum search for his own G r a i l , the money, becomes symbolic. A larger synthesis of past and future, of action and dream, is denied to Walker in his "in-between '•' l i f e , by v i r tue of the values inherent in urban America. If Walker's dream l i f e i s a sham, i t is because his dream urban environment needs sham in order to e x i s t . Hence Walker's vapid interregnum^life turns an essent ia l l y gangster story into something e lse . Walker in "Point Blank" becomes an archetype; he comes to express a fragmentation of se l f as a product of American cu l ture . Walker's ontological angst touches us because i t brings the rootlessness of the s i x t i e s away from youth, and places i t squarely within the mi l ieu of the middle-aged establ ished, urban executive. Walker's exter ior cer ta inty , his ceaseless compulsive drive for his money, l i k e the freeways, the towers, and suburbs of contemporary America, i s b u i l t upon a perverse misunderstanding of the American dream. We are made to struggle with Walker in "Point Blank" to an understanding of his own delusion. Beneath the deception, Boorman shows us, there is nothing. Because ego drives 70 the quest, the wasteland cannot be assuaged. The opening sequences serve to i l l u s t r a t e the maelstrom of cont iguity that prevents us from entering Walker's world with l og ic . The f i l m opens with the Alcatraz heist scene in which Walker has been shot twice with a sub-machine gun and l e f t for dead. The cred i ts intercut t h i s r e a l i t y with a ser ies .o f freeze-frame shots that bears the t i t l e and other i n fo r -mation. Here Walker i s revealed as escaping a point, blank annih i lat ion by climbing c a t - l i k e out of his c e l l , along sky-walks, and f i n a l l y into the c h i l l i n g waters of San Francisco Bay. In voice-over we hear the narration of a guide who relates to tou r i s t s aboard a San Francisco Bay tour - vesse l , the history of f u t i l e escape attempts from the fabled f o r t r e s s . As the narration moves through the reca l l i ng of the desperate escape attempts of the 30's ( i t s e l f a mocking retort to the ar t less dr ive of depression gangsters) we suddenly see Walker aboard th i s same very tour -vessel from which the phlegmatic voice-over emanates. Moreover-,'Yost appears beside Walker. They both look out toward "the Rock" that passes in the background. Yost gives Walker, as would an undercover policeman, i n fo r -mation where the double-crossing Reese may be found. This opening establ ishes Walker as ex is t ing in a m e t a - l i f e . The freeze-frame t i t l e sequence must not be taken l i t e r a l l y . It i s a meta-phoric statement of l i f e that ex is ts outside Walker's blasted body. The voice-over narration that counterpoints t h i s act ion , acts as the l ink to the present r e a l i t y of Walker's l i f e - i n - d e a t h dream. The repet i t ions of the shooting incident throughout t h i s sequence serves to prove that the actions that fo l low are manifestations of Walker's own subjective dying consciousness. 71 Boorman goes to great pains to reveal the unfolding narrative as Walker's subjective awareness, throughout the echoing, resolute footsteps of Walker's "march" down the long Los Angeles Airport cor r idor . The sound of footsteps echoes to Lynn's apartment, l ingers . We see him spying upon his former wife as she is made-up (coldly) at the hairdressers. Her face, echoes i t s former attachment to him by i t s repeated dupl icat ion ( l i k e the sound of the footsteps) in a series of vanity mirrors. Lynn's l i f e we see, suffers the same ambiguity as does Walker's. Her a f f a i r with Reese lasted three months af ter the f a t a l Alcatraz shooting. Yet she is del ivered one thousand do l lars every month presumably from the syndicate. Who keeps her? Why? In flashback we note her beginnings with Walker at Fisherman's wharf and la ter her meeting through Walker with Mai at an a l l -male underworld party she is pr iv i leged to attend. As t h i s story unfolds, we are given repeated interruptions of Walker breaking into Lynn's apartment and emptying his gun into an empty-bed. A jump cut back to the' present reveals Lynn f a l l i n g and turning in slow motion upon a bed. This serves only to emulate Walker's own f r e t f u l sleep. This double memory of unease causes him to f a l l off the couch, to awaken and to discover Lynn dead on her bed of an overdose. Apartment window blinds are drawn closed, l i k e the bars of an Alcatraz c e l l , and through them Walker sees the ubiquitous Yost star ing up at him. Walker returns to the bathroom where he f i r s t searched for clues of Reese's presence. He knocks down coloured bott les of Lynn's perfume and make-up. The resu l t ing viscous mix of r ich colours swi r l ing in slow motion together on the bathroom f l oo r stands as a le i tmot i f fo r Lynn's ro le (and the role of women in general) throughout his story. Lynn is a mixture of attractiveness (the perfume) and repulsion (the red make-up base). Walker stands t ransf ixed by the b lood - l ike mix that reminds him of her i n f i d e l i t y with Reese and her own enveloping warmth with himself. He is as Arthur looking at Guinevere who makes love to his best - f r iend Lancelot, except the green-place, the fo res t , i s replaced by the even greater mystery of the American c i t y . Boorman now intercuts Walker in Lynn's apartment in scenes that reveal i t a l ternate ly furnished and bare. It i s bare as Walker leaves the bathroom. We suddenly see him assume a posit ion in a corner that i s s imi la r to his posit ion in death in A lcat raz . Indeed the echoing Alcatraz gunshot that Boorman interpolates here confirms the intensi ty of Walker's inner c o n f l i c t . The shot becomes however the doorbell and, as he goes to i t , the apartment is suddenly f u l l y furnished, in ant ic ipat ion of Lynn's i n i t i a l move into his l i f e . Against these p a i n - f i l l e d contradictions of memory and perception, Boorman continues to lay waste to the t r a d i t i o n a l gangster p lo t , as well as the t r a d i t i o n a l quest motif . Chr is ' ro le as was Lynn's i s central in "Point Blank." Her actions are a repet i t ion in echo of Lynn's actions e a r l i e r in the narrat ive. Walker f inds Chris in bed in the same posture as Lynn in death. She too, we note through an intercut of bedside p i l l s , i s plagued by rest lessness. Chris is more than Lynn's s i s t e r , she becomes l i t e r a l l y an extension of her, in that Walker w i l l use her to get at Reese within the organization. She is an E la ine - f i gu re , who t r i c k s Lancelot, and at the same time is used by him in his own search for the G r a i l . There is a sexual element underlying Walker's re lat ionship with Chris 73 that i s important in Boorman's modif ication of the gangster f i l m conventions within "Point B lank / ' Chris M e r l i n - l i k e is transformed into taking the place of Lynn and Reese himself. She is revealed i n i t i a l l y through the windshield of Walker's car , as were Lynn, Reese, and Walker in happier times. Chris w i l l comply with Walker's use of her as a way into Reese's Huntley House because she cares for him. Walker co ld l y , w i l l interrupt Chris and Reese in a love-making sequence in his Huntley House penthouse only to leave her u n f u l f i l l e d . More, he w i l l l e t her into Brewster's home in the suburbs in a mockery of domestic a l l i a n c e . Her f rus t ra t ion and anger in r e t a l i a t i o n for his d is in te rest begins in her attacking him, and ends in a sexual encounter that Boorman uses to r e c a l l fo r us Walker's re lat ionship with Lynn . . . Lynn's re lat ionship with Reese . . . and Walker's own i n i t i a l f r iendship with Reese that has l inger ing intimations of homo-sexua l i ty . Boorman's cinematography here is marvelous, in that he u t i l i z e s a slow-motion sexual r o l l - o v e r two-shot of Walker and Chris on a bed. At the top of a r o l l - o v e r i t becomes Lynn with Walker, then again Lynn with Reese, and f i n a l l y . . . in a re-echoing of the underworld party sequence in which Reese is sprawled upon a drunken Walker on the f l o o r asking him for help . . . with Walker and Reese, now in t h i s purely sexual context. The point of a l l of t h i s i s simple. In "Point Blank" as in the Grai l myth, women are central to the intr igue of the narrat ive. Indeed men in the f i l m possess many feminine cha rac te r i s t i cs . Carter, l i k e Chr is , takes sleeping p i l l s . Like her, he too parades about in a bath robe. Brewster i s c a s t a s a fussy, per fect ion is t who, l i k e a house-wife is 74 patronizing to his chauffeur with comments about the lack of attention his gardener pays in watering the p lants . Brewster's house, l i k e the Bates home in "Psycho" (1960), i s adorned with baroque e rot ic statues. His kitchen f u l l of appliances i s missing only a wi fe 's de l ight . Indeed, the nature of Walker's and Reese's own re lat ionship is presented with over-tones of sexual attractiveness as in the car sequence in which Walker, Lynn, and Reese beside each other i s suggestive of a menage-a-trois. Walker has broken into the apartment of two homosexuals across from the Huntley House so he can spy on Reese. Reese's own penthouse is guarded everywhere by men in two's . Reese too, has a thing for Chr is , but i t i s she who must make the f i r s t move. Part of the purposeful ambiguity Boorman weaves into the narrat ive of "Point Blank" is due to a sexual presence that i s at once l i k e the Arthurian romance both l iberat ing and threatening. In a more t y p i c a l gangster f i l m such as "The Public Enemy" (1931), male/female re lat ionships are complete f a i l u r e s . Tom (James Cagney) cannot make i t with Gwen (Jean Harlow). She seduces him, forcing him to rush out of t h i s deceit to his fa te . In the c l a s s i c gangster f i l m , the woman's ro le was somewhat l i k e that of a western, f ixed within the stereotypical mother, lover, mistress or whore. Women were treated as background at worst, or inst igators at best, of an ideological t ruth that so le ly rested within the domain of men. Women in the e a r l i e r gangster f i l m s , functioned as obstacles to the male quest. Often the success of the hero "The K i l l e r s " (1946), depended upon the degree to which a man could ext r icate himself from a woman's manipulations. Once in "Film No i r i " such as "Double Indemnity (1944), a man k i l l e d a woman simply because a man could not r e s i s t her enchanting 75 ways. In "Point Blank," the ro le of women is much more complex. What drives Walker i s n ' t jealousy. The promise of wealth is merely part of the larger deception that ensnares male and female a l i k e . Revenge merely gives his angst an outer manifestation. Walker l i k e Lynn, Chr is , or Reese, suffers the angst of aloneness. Lynn just before her suicide says to Walker, "You ought to k i l l me." Her a f f a i r with Reese, and l e f t -over feel ings fo r Walker, causes a su ic ida l fear . Chris seeing Walker's cool manner a f ter Reese's death says to him, "You were r ight when they said you were dead. You are dead." When he takes Chris to Brewster's house, she is deluded into bel ieving he wants her. He does, but only as an enticement to Brewster as he works up through the syndicate. This knowledge of herself as functionary i s representative of the ambiguous role sexual i ty plays in the l i ves of the protagonists. Sexuality in "Point Blank" further muddies an already unspoken i s o l a t i o n . As in the Gra i l myth, women are transformed to deter or to inspi re men in the quest. Nowhere is t h i s more revealed than in the sequence in which Walker and Chr is , enroute to Brewster's home af ter k i l l i n g Reese, pause at a roadside diner. Boorman pans away from Walker and Chris again and again, to a teenage boy and g i r l seated together in a booth. They neither speak nor touch. Both are lost in an iso lated reverie that undercuts' t h e i r togetherness. They are together because that i s the soc ia l con-vention. Boorman i s careful to show us that romance, even among the youth, does not negate the i s o l a t i o n . 76 As the f i l m develops then through Walker's mixed and reart icu lated perceptions, the meaning of his aberrant s ty le becomes c lea r . As we move with Walker to the core of the organization, we are taken into an urban environment that i s c losed. Urban America Boorman shows us, fosters an i so la t ion so profound that act ion , any act ion , does, only for a moment obscure the darkness. In "Point Blank" Boorman reveals a desolation that has become a cu l tu ra l psychosis. As Walker has broken out of Alcatraz in his interregnum l i f e , he must now break into the c i t y . To do so he needs human ba i t , s tea l th , and the courage of a c r im ina l . Boorman's urban mise-en-scene is f u l l of v e r t i c a l s , b l inds , and gleaming steel and concrete structures that become analogues to the bars and grids of the opening Alcatraz sequence. Like the footage of A lcat raz , Boorman captures Los Angeles such that i t too, shimmers in white l i g h t . Its apartment buildings become cold g l is ten ing structures reminiscent of an Alcatraz c e l l - b l o c k . Venetian bl inds in Lynn's, Reese's, and Carter 's apartments, keep the world out, b a r - l i k e . Everywhere there are guards, men with r i f l e s posed on parapets that overlook expansive open ground. Boorman's American c i t y i s c lea r l y a pr ison. The irony is however, that once ins ide , i t i s not the structures themselves that keeps man closed; i t i s the r i t u a l s and a r t i f a c t s of contemporary culture that lays siege to personal autonomy. Like a w e l l -run concentration camp, Boorman reveals to us that the American c i t y i s s e l f - p o l i c i n g . Cultural deception is the key that keeps a population Walker - l ike in motion. Deception is the prerequisite to an estranged and divided psychosis. 77 The most revealing sequence of t h i s c u l t u r a l l y conditioned i so la t ion occurs when Walker goes to a discotheque af ter Lynn's su ic ide , looking for his s i s t e r - i n - l a w , Chr is . L i t in an enveloping sensuous purple glow, the patrons are swept into mimicking the screams of a black singer on stage. Throughout the performance, i t is the black singer who controls the audience. The s inger 's set achieves a Walker - l ike ret r ibut ion for decades of r a c i a l put down. Behind him a screen reveals close-up s l i d e projections of a white woman (white trash?) whose open-mouthed f a c i a l contortions a l ternate ly r e f l e c t fear and sexual ecstasy that are buried in the music. It-is'-here too that Boorman reveals the sado-masochistic dual i ty rooted in sexual i ty that w i l l envelope Walker and Chris in the rest of the f i l m . John Stegman has watched Walker enter the d isco. (As Walker has watched Reese enter Huntley House.) A f ight between Stegman's hitmen and Walker in re t r ibut ion for Walker's own attack on Stegman in his car -l o t , reveals a numbing violence. As the screaming music and projections continue out f ront , Walker v ic ious ly stops an attacker by h i t t i n g him in the gen i ta ls . Above, the face of the g i r l on the translucent screen continues her ravenous contort ions. C lear ly , urban entertainment, from a simple coke in a d i n e r , : t o a sophist icated show at a d isco, i s grounded in deception and violence that i s made inescapable by v i r tue of i t s complicity with sexual i ty . The echoes of Arthurian romance abound. If Boorman only al ludes to Freud in t h i s sequence, he i s more graphic in his depiction of the violence and a l ienat ion brought about by urban commercialism. In seeking Reese, Walker must get information of his whereabouts from John Stegman, a syndicate member and owner of "Big John's 78 Auto Dealership." Stegman at f i r s t , r e s i s t s Walker's enquiries u n t i l he is taken prisoner in one of his slowest convertibles and subject to in jury , humi l iat ion, and contempt, as Walker merci lessly demolishes his car beneath a Los Angeles freeway. A l l the while, Walker's murderous resolut ion to get information from Stegman is counterpointed by a sound track from the car radio that extols the honesty of "Big John's" business. Stegman's innocence of his knowledge of Reese's whereabouts is we see, as big a l i e as the phoney messages of his commercial advertisements. Walker, nor anyone else is safe from the betrayals and facade of big business. -The side of the law that business may be on, i s quite inc identa l . Chris too, misperceives Walker's intent in bringing her to Brewster's suburban home. She is as deluded by the domestic sett ing (as others are by Big John's radio commercials) into bel ieving that f i n a l l y Walker i s interested in her. He is not. Discovering she is again merely bait fo r Brewster, she lashes out at Walker's implacabi l i ty by turning on every appliance and e l e c t r i c a l gadget in the home. Toasters, blenders, oven, j u i c e r s , f r i dge , stereo, suddenly become taunting agents in a bizarre sexual cat-and-mouse game that mocks the very basis of domestic s t a b i l i t y t y p i f i e d by the appliances themselves. Moreover, the te lev is ion i t s e l f becomes part of t h i s game by echoing Walker's unspoken l i b ido in a te lecast of Vincent M i n n e l l i ' s "Tea and Sympathy." Walker hears Jenkins say, "Wasn't Lo la 's idea Wes, yours?" He turns the channel away from the p o s s i b i l i t y only to hear another, "What am I supposed to do, be grateful fo r the rest of my l i f e ? " C lear ly , art has become enmeshed in l i f e . The cacophony of appliances' noises and blar ing stereo, produce the 79 opposite of domestic b l i s s . . . they promote a savagely v io lent encounter. For Boorman then, r i t u a l entertainment and consumer technology fosters only personal d i s l oca t i on . The degree of cu l tu ra l deception i s d i r e c t l y proportional to the quantity of man's indust r ia l and media extensions. These extensions Boorman would admit, are most v i s i b l e in the c i t y . Walker's quest fo r a f i n a l personal wholeness, a marriage of action and memory though l imited by his desire for vengeance, is mitigated further by the wasteland environment in which his quest takes place. Boorman's iconography goes beyond the a r t i f a c t s of the gangster f i l m to include aspects of contemporary urban American l i f e . He has wrecked havoc with the gangster plot by simulating a cinematic s ty le that pa ra l l e l s our subjective awareness of l i f e caught in the momentoof death. Scenes echo one another in act ion , decor, and cinematography, because "deja vu" is as much a part of our perceptual arsenal as are images of wishes f u l -f i l l e d . Emphasis i s affected by repet i t ion and freeze-frame techniques. Yet these are not the only means Boorman u t i l i z e s in moving beyond standard gangster genre-piece. As in "Deliverance" (1972), the use of colour moves well beyond the decorative to become an element i m p l i c i t in the d e f i n i t i o n of the a l l e g o r i c a l . "Point Blank" at one level i s about a criminal who seeks re t r i bu t ion . On another level i t i s about a man who comes back from the dead, warms up to l i f e through his quest, and then d ies . Boorman decided to shoot each sequence in a d i f fe rent colour beginning with cold tones of grey and s i l v e r . As Walker's interregnum l i f e progresses, we move through sequences fi lmed in hues of blue and green, t i l l f i n a l l y at Brewster's 80 suburban home, the screen is r i c h in rus t i c red. The opening and c los ing for example are shot at t w i l i g h t . What l ight there i s , i l luminates the concrete with a ghostly gray. Walker is shot si lhouetted between cat-walk and sky as a dark f igure enhancing his f ug i t i ve status. Walker's early morning search for Reese i s shot in Los Angeles. Cool whites r e f l e c t his estrangement from the apartments and o f f ices of the c i t y that hold his prey. Lynn's apartment is largely white as is the dress she wears. A Guinevere she is not! The discotheque sequence is shot in nightmarish purple. There is one scene in Carter 's o f f i c e that i s shot ent i re ly in green. As Boorman points out . . . the furn i ture i s green, the carpets are green, a l l . . . Carter , his hitmen, Walker, a l l wear green s u i t s , green s h i r t s , and green t i e s . The resul t ing mix of greens interact with the f i lms emulsion. It does not create a bizarre a r t i f i c i a l i t y ; instead the greens "bleed" into hues of pale yel lows, browns, and blues, that ef fect a harmony of cool detachment wholly in keeping with the theme of the developing narrat ive. The green place of Boorman's "Point Blank" is as foreboding as the place of sku l l s in the Gra i l myth. Chris too, undergoes a commensurate change of hai r colour and costume colour as she moves with Walker through the narrat ive. I n i t i a l l y s i l v e r -haired and ou t f i t ted in white (a continuation of Lynn) she moves through blonde and pale yellow o u t f i t s with Reese (in his yellow apartment), to the rust wig and maroon dress as she accompanies Walker to Brewster's suburban home. In a l l of t h i s , Walker has t r i e d to merge memory of a lost re lat ionship with the developing warmth of l i f e he sees in his wish-81 f u l f i l l m e n t moment before death. Of course i t i s a l l to no avai l because Walkereannot warm up; he is already dead. However, the deep red tones that saturate him at the Brewster residence, is testimony to the psycho-log ica l distance his interregnum l i f e has come. It is not the cinematography, iconography, or ed i t i ng , that is at f au l t in "Point Blank." These do in f a c t , create a fast-paced act ion -t h r i l l e r that leases us into an understanding and appreciation of i t s many l eve l s . The major flaw l i e s in the character izat ion of Walker him-s e l f . Walker l i t e r a l l y , and metaphorically comes from the underworld. He is a gangster, and an a l l e g o r i c a l reincarnation of the underworld questor. Being a representation of a special kind of l i f e - i n - d e a t h , Boorman goes too fa r in emphasizing the p i t i l e s s dimension of his quest. Walker's rancorous drive does r e f l e c t a s p i r i t u a l condit ion, but i t blurs the essent ia l human qual i ty that i s necessary in allowing the narrat ive to function on two l eve l s . Those moments in which Walker reveals a t r u l y human v u l n e r a b i l i t y , as in his despairing movement into a corner of Lynn's empty bedroom af ter her su ic ide , or in the pain and memory-filled sexual encounter with Chr is , are too few and fa r between for us to cu l t i va te in Walker a humanity that gains status as his psychotic obsession fo r vengeance progresses. Simply, there is too l i t t l e of Walker as a man. As such, he is too cold a character to breathe much l i f e into essent ia l l y an a l l e g o r i c a l f igure . Boorman succeeds in giving l i f e to Walker, but he doesn't do i t often enough'. The scene in which he at t racts Lynn for the f i r s t time on 82 Fisherman's Wharf, and goes about cementing that re lat ionship with her is by fa r the most touching in the f i l m . But i t i s gone as soon as i t appears, and i t never comes again. Chr is ' cruel but honest admonition of his d e a t h - i n - l i f e stance takes place at Brewster's home over an intercom ("You're' r e a l l y dead," she repeats). Boorman should have shot t h i s encounter not distanced by the e l e c t r i c technology of appliances; but rather in a more human intimate act as screen play wr i ter Alexander i Jacobs suggested. There are other missing moments that Boorman should have added warmth to that are as Jacobs points out, J_n the o r ig ina l s c r i p t . Notably, the f i r s t time Walker meets Chris (Lynn's s i s t e r ) she is in bed in a posi t ion reminiscent of Lynn herself in death. She turns over, hair tousled, and looks at him in a manner that c lea r l y brings sexual i ty into the quest. Not only must Walker deal with Lynn's death, he must deal now with t h i s awfully cutt ing doppelganger of a g i r l who breathes a hint of passion into his deadened soul . Boorman shoots t h i s sequence in a two-shot in which we see only the side or back of Walker's head. By shooting a close-up reaction-shot of Chr is ' early sexual r o l e , we would have seen Walker's human pain extorted in a grimace, half of loss , half of compassion, that would have softened him a l i t t l e in his dr ive ahead. He doesn't , and Walker's f a l l i b i l i t y i s revealed only in Lee Marvin's pale eyes that match the conservatism of his grey business s u i t . Walker i s a man about a business in his interregnum l i f e , that did nothing to embellish or develop the memory of that l i f e . Boorman misses a chance to mix a l i t t l e more humanizing f r a i l t y into t h i s power-f u l a l legory. However at the las t "Point Blank" is a remarkable f i l m . It combines 83 the forcefu l pace of a James Bond t h r i l l e r with Boorman's surreal v is ion of urban America. What star ts out as a c l a s s i c gangster t a l e of ret r ibut ion is soon revealed as a metaphorical tone poem whose dependence upon the i n i t i a l cr iminal elements is only s u p e r f i c i a l . As Jack Shaobian has wr i t ten , "The f i l m confuses us because the world we expect to be present in the f i l m i s n ' t there, [ i t ] is negated by both form and content." What Boorman has done, I submit in "Point Blank" is to bring the genre up to date. His attention to colour, to multi layered sound, and to a non-l inear narrative structure, is wholly in keeping with other developments in music, a r t , and f i l m of the late s i x t i e s . It remains a gangster f i l m , though i t widens the context of c u l p a b i l i t y to include the offenses of one's own soul against i t s e l f . "Point Blank" operates on two leve ls ; i t i s a story of cr iminal revenge, as well as a metaphoric study of man's urban inner c o n f l i c t . I would argue that "Point Blank" derives i t s ;power from the second of these two l eve l s . Boorman is to be credited with giving primacy to the a l l egor ic in that he has pointed his f inger in j es t at the Gra i l myth and at the genre's conventions. He has revealed in structure, in s t y l e , and in theme, wonderful new ways to keep the genre f resh . For Boorman, the gangster in America of the s i x t i e s i s an e x i s t e n t i a l f igure whose empty quest in l i f e , i s merely rep l icated in a meaningless and v io lent death. The quest is not epiphanic; i t i s a sort of cu l tu ra l su ic ide . 84 CHAPTER SIX: "HELL IN THE PACIFIC" (1968) The Arthurian romances are medieval ta les that are rooted in feudalism. The exploits; of. Arthur the feudal king and his knights are based upon a system of government that was dominated by an e l i t e corps of warriors, who followed a s t r i c t code of honour. The knights were medieval cavalrymen or "cheval ier . " Their code of chival ry made them a r i s t o c r a t s . Basic to ch iva l ry , the code of the horsemen, was a strong r e l i g i o u s , moral, and soc ia l imperative. Foremost, because the knight was a so ld ie r , was the need for courage. To be courageous implied being honourable. Honour meant that, Arthur 1 s corps sought and gave respect. Honour meant being f a i t h f u l . The knightly ideal of in tegr i ty through struggle and c o n f l i c t implied a dread of being shamed. To be shamed meant to be separated from the duty and pleasure of his c l a s s ; to be separated from the adventure of combat. The knight errant was, more than anything else a so ld ie r , and proud of i t . In "Hel l in the P a c i f i c , " Boorman takes t h i s soldier ing ideal and reveals i t to be a code that works to demean, rather than to enhance man's humanity toward man. "Hell in the P a c i f i c " was the second of two f i lms Boorman made for Hollywood star r ing Lee Marvin. The f i l m reveals his close working re lat ionship with wr i ters that had become habitual since he and B i l l S t a i r had worked together on "Having a Wild Weekend." From such c o l l a -boration, Boorman would achieve commercial success and a kind of cu l t fo l lowing with "Point Blank" (1967), and "Deliverance" (1972). Without such a team approach, Boorman would produce such vast ly d i f fe rent f i lms 85 as .."Zardoz" (1973) and "Leo the Last" (1969). The task of the narrative of "Hel l in the P a c i f i c " i s a d i f f i c u l t one. Contrary to the credi ts that c i t e s Reuben Bercovitch as the wr i te r , "Hel l in the P a c i f i c " began i n i t i a l l y with l i t t l e more than an idea 1 translated from the Japanese. Screen play writers Alexander Jacobs ("Point Blank") and Shinoka Hashimoto ("Seven Samurai" and "Rashomon") worked c losely with Boorman in developing a t i g h t l y constructed narrat ive that bears a c loser resemblance to the works of Verga or Zola and the l i t e r a r y natu ra l i s ts than to the action-packed adventure f i l m that made money for investors. "Hel l in the P a c i f i c " i s a f i l m about the strength of m i l i t a ry condit ioning. As in medieval times, the backbone of t h i s conditioning is the notion of honour. A Japanese naval o f f i c e r (Toshiro Mifune), and an American bomber-p i l o t , (Lee Marvin), are stranded on a small deserted is land in the South P a c i f i c during the las t months of the Second World War. Neither speaks the other 's language. Due largely to th i s r e s t r i c t i o n in the screen play, Boorman's f i l m becomes a purely descr ipt ive a l l e g o r i c a l t a l e of the stages man must go through in attempting to de-program himself from c u l t u r a l l y induced aggression. With very l i t t l e dialogue, Boorman's t a l e must be to ld through the faces of the two characters. He must maintain the narrat ive pace by recording those incidents that mark the movement from i n i t i a l h o s t i l i t y to mutual acceptance and dependency. In other words, Boorman must d i f fuse h is ' s to ry from the outset. "Hel l in the P a c i f i c " has no climax in the ordinary narrat ive sense because climax implies act ion . It i s a 86 story about warriors who must learn to be inact ive . As an example of i t s genre, "Hel l in the P a c i f i c " does not work. This f a i l i n g i s , a bonus. C l a s s i c a l l y , the War Film may be reduced to a re la t i ve ly simple formula. The War Film in i t s s t r i c t e s t sense, demanded a l l i e d heroics, and Nazi or Japanese "come-uppance." Jack Hawkins, John M i l l s , Kenneth Moore, or John Wayne, always ended up giv ing the Japs h e l l ! "Our guys" were always cast as chivalrous knights of the a i r , defending t h e i r women, and t h e i r personal honour, as in such f i lms as "We Drive at Dawn" (1943), or "Objective Burma" (1943). Gregory Peck was always being pinned down on "Pork Chop H i l l " (1959). Burt Lancaster, and Clark Gable always dove t h e i r subs to "Run S i lent and Run Deep." (1958). A l l were o f f i c e r s and gentlemen. They were l im i ted , and blunt men l i k e Patton as in "Patton" (1975). The war i t seemed, never changed, nor ever ended. Such f i lms were simple smug, uniform, t r ibutes to B r i t i s h and American heroism. "Hel l in the P a c i f i c " decidedly doesn't f i t e i ther into the more atypical War Film that went against t h i s s i m p l i s t i c trend. There is no winning camaraderie as in "Bridge on the River Kwai" (1.957) or "The Wooden Horse" (1950). Nor, i s there the catharsis of the absurd, as in the black gory humour of "M.A.S.H." (1970). War in "Hel l in the P a c i f i c " i s a res idua l , a l e f t over from a cu l tu ra l t r a d i t i o n , that forces enmity between two who must co-operate in order to survive. The way into Boorman's f i l m is not so much through a strong narrat ive, as through the holding power of i t s s t y l e . The t e r r i t o r y at stake in "Hel l in the P a c i f i c , " i s not Iwo Jima, or the Islands of Japan; i t i s 87 the more personal psychological wasteland of fear , jealousy, spite and sullenness, born of two d i f ferent sets of perceptions that make murder easy in group warfare, but nonsensical in i s o l a t i o n . The te r ra in in "Hel l in the P a c i f i c " i s psychological . The geographic te r ra in of the is land must mirror those incidents in which minds must deal with older , reinforced responsesof aggression, and strange new ins t inc ts of su rv i va l . The land-scape in "Hel l in the P a c i f i c " becomes mindscape. Boorman's f i r s t task in t h i s psychological drama is to capture the metaphor in the t e r r a i n . There are f ive: major incidents in Boorman's narrat ive that give c lear evidence of his control over his technique. In terms of the psycho-l o g i c a l , each episode becomes expressive of a par t icu la r emotional posit ion that each warrior fee ls in his encounter with the other. These "emotional episodes" might be described in the fol lowing manner: open h o s t i l i t y , t e r r i t o r i a l i t y , a war of nerves, the f rus t ra t ion of communi- . cation and guarded acquiescence. Each deserves to be examined in terms of just how the s t y l e , advances the p lo t . The opening sequence with the cred i ts establishes what we w i l l see expressed in Mifune, the f i r s t stranded warr ior , moments l a t e r . The f i l m begins with sunrise over an implacable ocean. The beauty i s drained by the i so la t ion and the complete absence of sound. Boorman wishes us to fee l that t h i s place a sort of "green world" has been l i k e t h i s forever. He shows us an is land dwarfed by the ocean, i t is subject to the chaos of nature as opposed to the violence of war. Suddenly we see Mifune s i t t i n g cross-legged in a yoga pos i t ion . We note he s i t s facing the sea; he is at tent ive . He is half^-in and hal f -out of a cave - l ike indentation at the 88 base of a small sandstone c l i f f from which the jungle intrudes upon the beach in overhanging menace. In close-up Boorman shows us Mifune's strained face and careful breathing. His v ig i lance and attentiveness seem disproportionate to the i so la t ion of the set t ing . Beside him, l i k e the knight 's horse, are his binoculars hanging on a v ine. They are a symbol of his status as a naval o f f i c e r . Mifune walks to the shore, and scans the horizon as he might do from the bridge of the bat t le - sh ip he once must have commanded. At the shore's edge he notices something, y e l l s and looks off into the dark and impenetrable jungle. Boorman now moves down from that look, and allows us to perceive what the Japanese o f f i c e r cannot. An American (Lee Marvin) i s s i t t i n g on the jungle f l o o r . A close-up reveals Marvin watching, i n tent l y , as was Mifune moments before. Through a series of close-ups, Boorman t e l l s us that each has sensed the other. In close-up camera subject ive, we now see what Mifune sees . . . Marvin's leather f l y i n g helmet among the contents of the r a f t . It s ignals the presence of an adversary. In a rapid succession of close-ups we part ic ipate in the dawning of that presence, each has f e l t of the other. The power of t h i s emotion pushes them both into the c lear ing and open confrontation. Like the medieval tournament, discovery has shamed them into combat. Boorman establ ishes both men as warr iors. More, l i k e knights, they are o f f i ce rs of some rank. What is at stake here jLs t h i s condition of rank. At the outset of the f i l m sovereignty and status become personalized. Boorman c ra f ts fo r us images of the outcome of t h i s inevitable m i l i t a r y encounter, long before i t actual ly occurs. The master-shot i s 89 wide, and because each has been drawn together in a long shot along a narrow s t r i p of beach and frozen at a respectable distance from each other, Boorman takes us eas i l y into the mind-s eye of each. Suddenly Mifune attacks and cuts down Marvin, who f a l l s , eyes pained and defeated. Just as suddenly Marvin attacks and k i l l s Mifune, and he too i s cut down, eyes pained in defeat. By placing each at the c r i t i c a l edge of the frame, Boorman ef fects a preview of the pernicious devastation one so ld ier imagines doing to the other. Ann ih i la t ion , Boorman shows us ear ly , i s set f i r s t in the mind. This mental rehearsal as in "Point Blank" prepares us fo r more violence to come. It doesn't. What comes instead, is a s h i f t of attention to a water container Marvin has spotted near Mifune's "she l te r . " A close-up of i t reinforces i t s s ign i f i cance . Fresh water means su rv i va l , and in the instant of that s h i f t of at tent ion , everything changes. The confrontation and aggression of two warriors made enemies through h istory , becomes now personalized in su rv i va l . Water means su rv i va l . In the, knowledge of that instant , both turn away from t h e i r conditioned aggression and begin to respond to the ca l l i ngs of a more personal sovereignty. At that moment too, the strange piercing dissonant sound track whose synthesized intimations of or ienta l music s h i f t s to a more n a t u r a l i s t i c and melodious plopping of water into that a l l important container. This s h i f t i s s i gn i f i can t in that i t pushes the movement of the narrat ive toward a more natural kind of determinism. What Boorman establ ishes in the opening of the f i l m is a context fo r the way violence i s depowered throughout. Boorman shows us how stealth becomes r i t u a l . A r t i f a c t s , such as binoculars, helmets, and a 90 r a f t , become expressions of the depth of the r i t u a l of so ld ie r ing . More, they bespeak of the means of su rv iva l :ava i lab le to both. U t i l i z i n g close-ups, Boorman brings the jungle r ight up against his two protagonists. For Mifune, who won't leave the beach, the jungle becomes l i k e the sea, an expression of impenetrable i so la t ion and h o s t i l i t y . For Lee Marvin, the jungle s i g n i f i e s cover and safety'. Its darkened (over-exposed) green element, l i k e the sky he once flew i n , gives him room in which to maneuver. Without dialogue Boorman creates a ba l le t of emotion in a host of sett ings . He is careful to express the power of t h i s strange environment by photographing even long shots with a telephoto lens. In consequence, both characters are forced to face the presence of the jungle. Mifune won't leave the beach, the jungle has become for him, an extension of the sea. For Marvin, the jungle becomes as the clouds that he can emerge from to do b a t t l e , then disappear into again. What is d i f fe rent about these two environments is that unl ike sea or sky, jungle and beach are f i n i t e . Room to maneuver in t h i s warrior wasteland i s , very l im i ted . Without dialogue Boorman presents fo r us a strange r i t u a l i s t i c dance, r ich in the attachments of m i l i t a ry nationalism. Lack of dialogue forces us to perceive his subjects as documents. We see them as h i s t o r i c a l e n t i t i e s , warriors f i r s t , not ind iv idua ls . More, Boorman's attentiveness: to the jungle i s such that we are rapidly taken beyond the surface, to a dimension of fear , of psychological ugliness that i t s e l f becomes an aesthetic en t i t y . The jungle is at once, a b a t t l e f i e l d and a place of mystery. It i s l i k e the forest of the Gra i l myth, an otherworld 91 l i f e - g i v i n g and destruct ive , ent ic ing and unexplored. "Wood" in Malory's Morte D 1Arthur means mad. The jungle in "Hel l in the P a c i f i c " i s the place where the conditioned might of mi l i ta r i sm snaps. However, Boorman goes well beyond the aesthetic of neo-realism through the means he uses to move us from the close-up encounter of one warrior , to the close-up encounter of the other in the jungle. Boorman uses a s t y l i s t i c device that i s l i t t l e more than a s h i f t , up or down, in his p r ivate , probing camera eye. What Boorman does, i s to extend past a camera subjective shot of what one very wary warrior sees, and, through a s l i gh t t i l t up or down, rest upon the face of the other. In a continuous movement, we see what the or ig inator of the i n i t i a l p iercing gaze could not. Such an aesthetic creates a v isual dramatic irony. We know more than e i ther , and we know i t through a languid (almost c i r c u l a r ) moving camera that draws us into the steal th as surely as suspense draws us into a more action-packed narrat ive . Here Boorman has I th ink , achieved the perfect s e l e c t i v i t y of the camera eye. He has involved, yet control led our perceptions, so his v is ion of man can dominate the created world he has drawn. It is akin to Welles' use of deep focus. In Boorman's case, i t i s deep focus with a mirror. This camera s ty le i s e f fect ive and s i g n i f i c a n t , but i t i s not d i s t r a c t i n g . We are drawn into a psychological narrat ive because we are given only a l i t t l e extra knowledge. That knowledge, the presence of the other so ld ier in the jungle is revealed in a languid, slow-moving, almost hypnotic camera that is en t i re l y in keeping with the environment' the protagonists f i nd themselves i n . With economy, and c l a r i t y , Boorman moves us eas i l y past the necessity fo r act ion . 92 The success of t h i s i n i t i a l v isual intensity remains in how i t i s varied in the episodes that fo l low. If nothing much is going to happen phys ica l l y , Boorman must show us psychological movement with s p i r i t and ingenuity. "Hel l in the P a c i f i c " i s f u l l of such inventiveness. Though the jungle provides cover fo r Marvin, i t provides l i t t l e e lse . Mifune 1s shelter contains water and Marvin must have i t . Mifune is only too aware of t h i s f a c t . This next episode takes us beyond the conditioned aggression of race, to a dominance based upon t e r r i t o r y . The s ign i f i can t factor here is that the violence bred into both is moving away from, actual ized physical v iolence, to a violence based upon i t s surface presentation. Like the display of accoutrements before the knight 's tournament, the violence of t e r r i t o r i a l i t y i s one of might. Before a General, or a lady "show" is better than "blow." A depersonalization that occurs normally, in actions gives way in "Hell in the P a c i f i c " to a much more threatening psychological r e a l i t y . Such a move allows Boorman to transpose the spying, and the intr igue of conditioned so ld iers to the more creat ive ingenuity of ind iv idua ls . Cold war in Boorman's "Hel l in the P a c i f i c , " rapid ly becomes very "hot" cinema. Mifune, in response to Marvin's s h i f t of attention toward the water, responds defensively. He builds four f i r e s around the f ront of his shelter that e f f e c t i v e l y walls himself and the water off from the intruder. Pleased with t h i s defense, Mifune takes the offense, and begins to hurt le f i r e bombs into the jungle. Not only does the smoke give Marvin i n i t i a l l y more cover, i t also makes i t hard for him to breathe. The i n i t i a l rage that Boorman reveals in Mifune's defensive act , becomes the spark fo r an 93 idea of even more threatening dominance. Mifune w i l l smoke out the enemy. Yet, as Marvin is fo r the instant sealed out, Mifune is sealed i n . He needs his food from his f i s h traps just as Marvin'"heeds water. The t e r r i t o r i a l imperative becomes too big for the t e r r i t o r y . It impinges upon soldiering-courage. Boorman reveals to us the r idiculousness of t h i s contradict ion . Mifune in the foreground, has edged from his shelter and is revealed waist-deep in the lagoon heading for the f i s h t rap. Marvin in the background, has edged from the smoke-f i l led jungle and is c los ing in on the shelter and the water. Of course, as each spies the other, each retreats to t h e i r respective t e r r i t o r y to i n f l i c t even more honourable harangue. Now i t i s Marvin's turn . He w i l l bang his water-jug (an i ron ic inversion of the Chinese water torture?) incessantly from various . posit ions within the jungle-cover in order to prevent his Asian enemy from sleep. Mifune in response w i l l walk off his shelter not w l t h . f i r e that can be breached, but with a r ing of sharpened bamboo-poles. He builds an early warning system of s h e l l s , bamboo s t i c k s , and s t r i n g . This taunting explodes in nerve-racking suddenness, to the f i n a l humil iation of Marvin ur inating upon his enemy from the top of a sandstone c l i f f . What is interest ing in a l l of t h i s is two- fo ld . In terms of the narrat ive , we see a regression in character that r i g h t l y reduces war to l i t t l e more than ch i ld ishness . Marvin and Mifune have become, in the f ight over t e r r i t o r y , as two brats smashing each other's toys. More, t h i s action is pleasurable fo r each. We see a smile on Marvin's face as he urinates on Mifune. Mifune smiles as he places the water-jug c lea r l y out of Marvin's reach. Besides th i s mutual regression that each enjoy, we enjoy. The t e r r i t o r i a l imperative is funny; i t provides, fo r us a comic r e l i e f from the real intent of t h e i r act ion . Humour and an int rus ive camera sty le provides "a distance" from the tension that underlies t h i s encounter. Thematically, Boorman has moved us from aggression, to an acknowledged del ight in the threat of aggression. Boorman is careful however not to let t h i s comic r e l i e f turn his story into blackly humorous al legory such as "M.A.S.H." Rain, torrents of i t , w i l l , quite l i t e r a l l y , dampen the i r mutual s p i r i t s . It reminds them both that they are sold iers who must survive with honour! The rain a "deus-ex-machina" device that weakens the narrat ive, does however move Boorman to the next episode. Here: he w i l l move his protagonists from a personal disarming brought about in pr ivate glee, to a mutual unmasking that i s revealed in the humil iat ion and respons ib i l i t y of being, and keeping, a pr isoner. The war of nerves that began in t e r r i t o r i a l i t y now comes home to each when the threat of aggression i s , i t s e l f , di f fused into the keeping rather than the k i l l i n g , of an enemy. Lack of sleep, lack of food, mutual humi l iat ion, smoke, and just p la in over-extended attention have brought Marvin and Mifune face to face once again. A chase through the jungle evaporates when Mifune f inds Marvin unconscious and face down in a jungle bog. He goes to k i l l him and cannot. He cannot of course because Boorman has shown us that he has been challenged, awakened, and even found a pleasure in the gamesmanship his foe has revealed. This guardedness, t h i s awareness that is not allowed in real c o n f l i c t becomes 95 now the l i t e r a l extension of, and substitution for, violence. Marvin is blindfold, and forced to carry ayoke. He moves about the beach pulling a tree-stump "chained" to his ankles. He seeks blindfolded those same noises that so threatened Mifune that he heard from the jungle. Boorman is careful to show us the cost of this guardedness. The island, like the mythic forest remains indifferent. It is implacable. Mifune stands watching the sea. He cannot give up his prisoner, nor can he release him. Feeding him is a labour and a duty he cannot endure for long. The yoke is removed for meals, though the contradictions implicit in this act of saving and hating, of feeding and k i l l i n g , of m i l i t a r i s t i c respect, and human sympathy, are too much. Mifune chains Marvin and beats him. Of course Marvin too must feel the weight of these contradictions. Boorman has him escape, and in turn, attack and imprison Mifune in the same yoke. With the positions reversed, Marvin looks for means of absolving the contradictions he too, now feels. Boorman gives Marvin the same frustration. He thumbs through the "survival book" for some sort of guidance. He reads from the manual as Mifune walks the beach Christ-like in his chains and yoke: "in the jungle one is in no position to maintain a prisoner of war. If captured, destroy them immediately." 3 Boorman is being symbolic. Both have been yoked by conscience born in the same s p i r i t of survival. Playing "by the book" means immediate annihilation of the other. They cannot. Each is burdened by the contra-dictions that have arisen from the revelation that each is human. This fact is too much for Marvin who must repress this strange new awareness. 96 He t reats Mifune l i t e r a l l y as a dog, and has him fetch s t i c k s . Mifune glares in anger. Boorman repeats his reductive motif with Marvin l a t e r . Freed from his yoke so he might cook, Mifune has in a moment of "freedom" fashioned a re l ig ious rock garden on the beach. Marvin, sensing t h i s as yet another r i t u a l act of a human s p i r i t t r i e s to destroy i t ; he cannot. For he too senses the bond between them has i t s roots buried deep in ontology. The so ld ie r ethic i s challenged by deeper s t i r r i n g s of the human heart. Threat then, becomes threat in name. Violent confrontation has moved through r i t u a l i z e d violence to name-call ing. Boorman continues to move his characters away from violence. Mifune now uses a log that Marvin has la in against on the beach to bui ld a r a f t . Marvin retorts with c h i l d i s h petulance, " I t ' s my log, i f I've to ld you once, I've to ld you a hundred times. You want my log? You can have i t , don't be sneaky. I can' t stand a t h i e f . " Name c a l l i n g becomes the last vestige of aggression. It w i l l , i t s e l f , be dif fused into a misunderstood argument over the design fo r a proper ra f t that promises them both real freedom. What Boorman is t e l l i n g us, i s that something has happened to them both that goes fa r beyond the differences brought about by t h e i r duty as so ld ie rs . From the known acts of sold ier ing must now come stranger acts of love. The sequence on the ra f t as they attempt to s a i l through the a t o l l reef to other, hopefully inhabited is lands, is shot fo r the most part , in sepia tones. What Boorman does here, in paling the deepened colours of the island to an almost monotone black and white is preparing us for the 97 i s l a n d and c i v i l i z a t i o n they w i l l both soon encounter. They d r i f t t o an • i s l a n d t hat was, l i k e the a t o l l they have j u s t l e f t , once inhabited by both Japanese and American f o r c e s . Having survived a common foe ( t h e i r own m i l i t a r y aggression and an i n d i f f e r e n t nature ... in two murderous typhoons at sea) they smile, though not at each other, or even together in t h e i r mutual success. Such v u l n e r a b i l i t y must s t i l l be admitted alone. They explore t h e i r new surroundings and f i n d a r t i f a c t s of the c i v i l i z e d world: malted milk t a b l e t s , pots, a lamp, c i g a r e t t e s , a b o t t l e of S aki, c l o t h i n g , and L i f e magazines. Boorman shows us o l d c o n d i t i o n i n g s are not given up e a s i l y . Rummaging through the abandoned communications s t a t i o n ( i r o n i c ) Marvin i s again taut f o r noises. His comment upon Mifune's s i l e n t return "Whew, I thought you were a Jap" reveals the degree to which the s o l d i e r e t h i c s t i l l d i v i d e s them. I r o n i c a l l y , the c l o s e r to c i v i l i z a t i o n they get the more d i s t a n t the two protagonists become. Marvin has discovered photographs of the bodies of slaughtered Japanese in American L i f e magazines. Mifune sees them too, in the s t a r t l i n g black and white t h r u s t of the r e c o g n i t i o n of o l d hatreds t h a t they portend. Boorman's sepia-toned voyage to freedom i s revealed f o r us in the same shocking manner. We see t h e i r togetherness as they see t h e i r separateness. Both co-operation and v i o l e n c e are seen to be strange, unworldly, a c t s . The s u r r e a l mise-en-scene makes t h e i r mutual e f f o r t unable to be perceived f o r what i t r e a l l y i s . Through his use of s t y l i z e d c o lour, Boorman t h r u s t s us, as the two protagonists i n t o a world t h a t i s strange with c o n t r a d i c t i o n s . Hence, h i s s t y l e e f f e c t s a p a r t i c i p a t o r y mental tension that propels us as surely as a c t i o n does within the adventure n a r r a t i v e . t 98 The f i n a l sequence of the f i l m i s a c l a s s i c i n v e r s i o n of the f i r s t . Just as r i t u a l s of v i o l e n c e begat peace, Boorman uses r i t u a l s of peace to move us again to h i s f i n a l dehumanized statement about man. Boorman uses the p e r f e c t a r t i f a c t in the b o t t l e of Saki to bring home his message with the power of irony. The b o t t l e of Saki, one has discovered amidst the r u i n s , v e i l s o l d a n i m o s i t i e s . It allows f i n a l l y f o r a s u r f a c i n g of mutual v u l n e r a b i l i t y . At the same time, i t promotes the r i s e again of even older more p r i m i t i v e aggressions. As both s i t now clean shaven among the r u i n s of both t h e i r c i v i l i z a t i o n s , o l d s t i m u l i begin to impinge upon the co-operative human e t h i c t h a t has allowed them to s u r v i v e . Boorman reveals moments of loss and n o s t a l g i a that brings them f i n a l l y face to f a c e . Both have been moved by the p i c t u r e of a g i r l (Marvin in a L i f e magazine and Mifune's sudden discovery of a Japanese g i r l ' s p i c t u r e that belonged once in a countryman's w a l l e t ) . The p u l s a t i n g b r i l l i a n t colours of w i l d flowers and the s t r i k i n g brightness of t h i s h i l l - t o p environment., i s i n t e r c u t . In unspoken, half-acknowledged admiration they turn and r a i s e t h e i r g l a s s e s , the t o a s t w i l l go beyond a s i g n a l l i n g of f r i e n d s h i p , t o a r e c a l l i n g of honour, not of s o l d i e r s , but of men. The end has become again the hope f o r a new beginning. The r i t u a l t o a s t sequence, however, becomes f u l l of s i m i l a r i t i e s t h a t harken to the aggression that opened the f i l m . In the opening both wore the. remnants of m i l i t a r y uniforms. Now both wear b i t s of pieces of c i v i l i a n c l o t h i n g each have found. In the opening sequences, d i r t y faces revealed a warlike stance t h a t hid f e a r . Now an undercurrent of i l l -d efined f e e l i n g runs through the f o r m a l i t y . At the outset music was denied. A mood sy n t h e s i z e r r e p l i c a t e d o r i e n t a l ceremony with inharmonious, 9 9 grating tones of unease. Now Mifune sings a ceremonious Japanese melody as uncertainly as he played a home-made f l u t e in constructing the r a f t . Now Marvin t e l l s the story of the loss of his buddies in the crash-landing. At the outset, r e l i g i o n was l i t t l e more than a s i t t i n g pos i t ion , or a garden on the beach, without reference. Now Marvin w i l l ra ise the issue of Chr ist ian supremacy . . . "I was gonna ask you . . . how come you don't believe in God?" At the outset, Mifune and Marvin were alone in t h e i r warrior e t h i c . Being alone, doubt could penetrate t h e i r conditioned f a i t h in ann ih i l a t ion . Now, Mifune and Marvin both see in magazines, and in the ruins about them, the c o l l e c t i v e a t r o c i t i e s of war. What Boorman t e l l s us, i s that c i v i l i z a t i o n is just too strong to allow fo r indiv idual d i f ferences. As man c i v i l i z e s himself, in music, in memory, and in r i t u a l , the commonality df vu lnerab i l i t y and fear i s l o s t . The last episode of the f i l m represents the evolution of cu l tu ra l conscious-ness in fast motion. Once again Marvin and Mifune become re-programmed*:* to differences rather than to common bonds. Fear in the differences becomes anger (they begin to shout and swear at each other) , and t h i s anger w i l l once again become war. In Boorman's o r ig ina l ending.of the f i l m , he has Mifune and Marvin pause in t h e i r new-found aggression to rea l i ze that the c u l t u r a l l y shaped differences are i r reconc i l ab le . There is nothing to do but turn , and walk away from each other, forever. Action-minded producers at "20th Century," misperceived the a l l e g o r i c a l s ign i f icance of Boorman's psycho-drama and imposed an ending not unlike "Zabriski Po int . " In the heat of argument, suddenly the whole stat ion about'them, is blown to smithereens. This ending destroys two important elements c r u c i a l to Boorman's theme. F i r s t , i t disavows the power of 100 t h e l i n g e r i n g a m b i g u t i e s w i t h i n M a r v i n and Mifune t h a t have s u s t a i n e d t h e m s e l v e s t h r o u g h o u t . T h i s sudden d e v a s t a t i o n n u l l i f i e s t h e s i g n i f i c a n c e o f t h e i r i n t e r a c t i o n . We a r e tempted t o reduce Boorman's theme w i t h an "Oh w e l l , c ' e s t l a v i e ! " r e a c t i o n . S e c o n d l y , t h e e x p l o s i o n r e t u r n s us a g a i n t o a w o r l d view o f a c t i o n . V i o l e n c e o c c u r s above and beyond human consequence. Boorman would argue t h a t v i o l e n c e and a g g r e s s i o n does o c c u r , and _is_ i n e v i t a b l e i n man's f e a r o f man. He would however, q u a l i f y t h a t view, as he t r i e d i n " H e l l i n t h e P a c i f i c , " w i t h a b e l i e f t h a t man a l o n e does s u f f e r t h e consequences o f a g g r e s s i o n , and t h a t s u f f e r i n g f o r c e s him t o c o n f r o n t i n naked u n c e r t a i n t y , t h e f o u n d a t i o n s o f h i s s o c i a l and r e l i g i o u s r i t u a l s . The knowledge o f t h a t nakedness i s s h o r t -l i v e d . With h i s guard down, Boorman's k n i g h t - e r r a n t has a s m a l l chance t o be a man. " H e l l i n t h e P a c i f i c " i s a r i c h a l l e g o r i c a l drama i n which man's c u l t u r a l l y shaped f e a r s a r e e x o r c i z e d i n v i o l e n c e . For Boorman, c i v i l i z a t i o n n e g a t i v e l y r e i n f o r c e s b e h a v i o u r t h a t p r e v e n t s man from e x h i b i t i n g animal a l t r u i s m . H i s s t o r y i s a p a r a b l e o f two mental s t a t e s who q u e s t u n s u c c e s s f u l l y f o r an e x p r e s s i o n o f p u b l i c p h i l a n t h r o p y . Man a l o n e has t h e c a p a c i t y f o r t r a n s c e n d e n c e . Mankind Boorman would argue, does n o t . The c r i t i c s l a r g e l y r e j e c t e d " H e l l i n t h e P a c i f i c " as b e i n g an " i n t e l l e c t u a l e x e r c i s e r a t h e r t h a n a s i n c e r e p l e a f o r u n d e r s t a n d i n g . " ^ D a v i d W i l s o n .announced "the symbolism i s a t once t o o vague and t o o f a c i l e t o p r o v i d e any i n d i c a t i o n o f j u s t what t h e message i s supposed t o b e . " 5 i would d i s a g r e e . Boorman has shaped i n " H e l l i n t h e P a c i f i c " a s t y l i s t i c a l l y engrossing l i t t l e f i l m that posits vagueness as the beginning of a very human qua l i ty . The protagonists peer, and pause, and plead, fo r a world beyond violence. That the world i s destroyed at the end i s not a good enough reason for us to fee l uncomfortable in a f i l m about the cessation of h o s t i l i t i e s . 102 CHAPTER SEVEN: "LEO THE LAST" (1970) "Leo the Last" i s a f i l m that celebrates the magic of an epiphany. It i s Boorman's most surreal work as well as his most opt imist ic statement of the genuine catharsis resul t ing from a quest. The violence in "Leo the Last" i s a jub l iant v io lence; i t prods Leo into action and enhances the celebration of his new-found awareness. Although a r i s t o c r a t i c decadence, and underprivileged cruelty are destroyed, by and large, people are not. Leo is the last of a l ine of European a r i s t o c r a t s , who l i k e the von-Richtoffens impede man's equal ity for equal i ty . His pr iv i leged household is peopled largely by misguided innocents more to be p i t i e d than conquered. "Leo the Last" i s a sparkl ing black comedy about the struggle between soc ia l c l a s s . The bizarre extremes to which Boorman goes makes the violence in "Leo the Last" j o l l y good fun. It i s a f i l m f u l l of magic, and f u l l of heart. It i s Boorman's most warm-hearted plea for universal tolerance. "Leo the Last" i s without the n ih i l i sm of "Point Blank" (1967), or "Hel l in the P a c i f i c " (1968), and without the violence of "Deliverance" (1972), or "Excalibur" (1981). Its message i s about magnaminity, not revolut ion; excess not e f f i cacy . It i s advanced by indulgence. "Leo the Last" i s a f i l m f u l l of grand gestures. Flamboyant in s ty le and content, Boorman takes us to the very edge of d i s b e l i e f . C r i t i c s have argued that t h i s movement,, so fa r toward hyperbole, d i f fuses the statement the f i l m t r i e s to make. I would argue instead that the whimsical and outlandish 103 exaggerations, though always poised for t o ta l f a i l u r e , instead create a f i l m with the qual i ty of a bad dream. Hence, the Notting H i l l slum that Leo looks into through his telescope from his mansion becomes as a projected fantasy.. It projects him into acts of w i l l that counterpoints the bizarre emptiness of the upper-class elements about him. Hyperbole in "Leo the Last , " operates not as an element that l i m i t s , but as an agent that f rees . Boorman's sur rea l , comic fantasy allows for the creation of car icatures of v i l l a n y . The genius in "Leo the Last" is a comic genius in that characters are given a qual i ty of i r reduc ib le fool ishness. This foolishness established through the b i zar re , becomes by the end of the story the emblem of the i r humanity. Fantasy is for Boorman in "Leo the Last ; " a way of l ink ing the world of the dream with a c t u a l i t y . Hyperbole doesn't bury the message, i t sustains and magnifies the e v i l in man, and in so doing i t magnifies the good. The story of "Leo the Last" i s simple. Leo, son'of a dead archduke (Marcello Mastroianni) i s a displaced European count who has been l i v i n g the a r i s t o c r a t i c drop-out l i f e in the Galapagos, nurturing an interest in ornithology. The disappearance of his kingdom, and the depletion of his family fortunes, forces him in sickness to return to his fa ther ' s e x i l e -house . . . a mansion set amidst an East-End London s1um ii Once there, Leo's enormous naivete f a i l s to a le r t him to a household that i s f u l l of opportunists and hangers-on who have turned the surrounding neighborhood into a ghetto. Those of Leo's household keep the neighborhood in economic subjection. I l l at ease with the decadence he sees within his house, and restrained by the bourgeois, demanding attention of his f iancee ( B i l l i e Whitelaw), Leo withdraws to a window, where in the process 104 of observing the pigeons of the neighborhood, he is drawn into the human drama of the neighborhood. Leo's Excalibur i s his telescope; his G r a i l , the soc ia l activism of the dispossessed. Leo is a voyeur whose moving telescope reveals a world of i n j u s t i c e , v io lence, energy, and noise, that captures his imagination. He is induced from his naivete and soc ia l catatonia by an increasing fascinat ion toward the Madi fami ly , whose tenement l i e s opposite his mansion window-perch. The Madi family l i k e Leo, are neither B r i t i s h nor secure. They are Jamaican immigrants who struggle against r a c i a l aggression and f i n a n c i a l usury. The di f ference between t h i s family and the bourgeois "family" that Leo has inher i ted , l i e s in t h e i r f i e r c e c o l l e c t i v e e f fo r t to survive. In spying upon t h e i r pr imi t ive ,st ruggle against hunger, rape, imprison-ment and p r o s t i t u t i o n , Leo learns about the s p i r i t of community that i s so missing from the l i f e of his own c l a s s . Leo watches with increasing horror the chaos of l i f e in the s t reet . Through such observations, he is forced into act ion . Having discovered that , as head of a s tate ly mansion-house he is the neighborhood slum landlord, Leo leads a min i -revolut ion. The resplendent onslaught against his own class leaves his own state ly mansion in the end in flames. At i t s surface, Boorman's parable seems an innocuous l i t t l e fantasy about the p o l i t i c s of commitment. This ind i f ferent l i t t l e a r i s tocrat who becomes advocate fo r the indigent i s more in keeping with a Keaton-esque melodrama. It i s t h i s l ink with melodrama that gives Boorman a chance to create a wonderfully expressive wasteland. Yet, in choosing burlesque, Boorman c a l l s upon elements of theatre that give his farce an 105 edge. The cul de sac is l i t t l e more than a thea t r i ca l set done in clashing tones of blue, black, and green. These high-contrast v isua ls are wedded to an overlapping sound track that resu l ts in a mi l ieu that i s as much psychological as unreal . Boorman creats a world that i s a manifestation of Leo's sensory overload. His quest, his r e t r i e v a l , and his future necessitate a set that mirrors regression, schizophrenia, and mania at every level of soc ia l in teract ion . The magic Boorman conjures up is the magic of melodrama that goes b izarre . "Leo the Last" i s an insanely happy quest. The opening sequence serves to reveal the iconography and to lay bare the antinomies of Leo's world. Mir rors , r e f l e c t i o n s , cut g lass , and baroque ornamentation reveal the closed, s e l f - r e f l e x i v e world of Leo's a r i s t o c r a t i c household. The world of the street in contrast hardly perceivable, in blues and black. As the f i l m opens, ra in spots the wind-sh ie ld of a moving car . From the outside, we see the r e f l e c t i o n of slum houses. A beggar woman with an umbrella f lashes past. Lightning casts an eerie blue f lash upon a tenement s t reet . In contrast , Leo's mansion at the end of a cul de sac presents a s t a r t l i n g state ly black and white facade of bourgeois indi f ference. Inside mirrors and glass become an index of a r i s t o c r a t i c embellishment, and a sign of the in - turn ing s e l f -r e f l e c t i v e narcissism and separation of those who dwell here. Chandeliers, and inverted glass stem-ware set on a glass d in ing- table re f ract the glar ing l i gh t of the mansion's i n t e r i o r . The house decorated in glar ing black and whites, i s a sort of baroque chessboard. This outlandish decor re f l ec ts the reserved, s t a t i c , coldness that causes Leo to withdraw to his window perch. It stands too in mockery of the rape of black by 106 w h i t e t h a t Leo i s soon t o o b s e r v e . Leo's movement from n a i v e t e t o knowledge; from c a t a l e p s y t o i n v o l v e -ment, i s a c c o m p l i s h e d by Boorman u t i l i z i n g what i s common t o Leo's ' f r a c t u r e d e x i s t e n c e . The b i r d s he watches become a b r i d g e t o t h e w o r l d he must soon e n t e r . E n t r e n c h e d on h i s window-perch, Leo t a k e s r e f u g e from h i s c u l t u r e - s h o c k t o watch (as an o r n i t h o l o g i s t ) t h e f l o c k i n g p i g e o n s o f t h e n e i g h b o r h o o d . Boorman i n t e r c u t s t h e o n e - d i m e n s i o n a l c h a r a c t e r s o f Leo's h o u s e h o l d w i t h t h e e x p l o i t e d humanity o f t h e s u r r o u n d -i n g tenement slums t h a t a r e e v e r - p r e s e n t backdrops t o t h e b l i g h t o f t h e b i r d s he o b s e r v e s . L a z l o ( V l a d e k S h e y b a l ) , i s t h e M e r l i n - f i g u r e . He i s a s e l f - a p p o i n t e d l e a d e r o f t h e gang o f r e v o l u t i o n a r i e s t h a t l i v e s i n t h e basement o f t h e mansion. He uses t h e house as a base t o e x p l o i t t h e s u r r o u n d i n g n e i g h b o r h o o d i n o r d e r t o r a i s e money f o r a c o n s e r v a t i v e t a k e o v e r o f Leo's f o r m e r European dukedom. L a z l o ' s basement magic i s t h e magic o f a M e r l i n gone wrong. L a z l o ' s alchemy i s not t h e alchemy o f c u r s e s , o r t r a n s f o r m a t i o n s , as i n t h e G r a i l myth, i t i s t h e alchemy o f modern gunpowder. The basement o f Leo's mansion i s n o t h i n g l e s s t h a n an armory from which L a z l o can wage war. L a z l o ' s b l a c k magic " b l e e d s " t h e s u r r o u n d i n g n e i g h b o r h o o d t o d e a t h . The s i g h t o f t h i s l i v i n g death d r i v e s Leo t o a c t i o n . With h i s b i n o c u l a r s and t e l e s c o p e , Leo h i m s e l f becomes a b i r d o f passage, m i g r a t i n g f o r t h e f i r s t t i m e i n t o unknown human t e r r i t o r y . S t r u c t u r a l l y , t h i s o p e n i n g sequence r e v e a l s Boorman's u n d e r s t a n d i n g o f pace. He c o n s t r u c t s Leo's v o y e r i s t i c p r e d a t o r y i n c u r s i o n i n t o t h e p a s s i o n - f i l l e d l i v e s o f t h e tenement d w e l l e r s b e f o r e him w i t h a c a r e f u l l y 107 choreographed commotion. Throughout, the unvarying rhythm of banjoes emphasizes the p r im i t i ve , the world of the taboo, the world of passion and violence, of real emotion, that contrasts fractured snippets of T.S. E l l i o t ' s "The Love Song of 0. Al f red Prufrock" and remnants of conversation that emanate from the mansion behind Leo's peering. This discordant sound track a la Altman not only mirrors Leo's wrenched psyche, i t magnifies the c r ies of rage thatemanates from the s t reet . Lazlo the magician has created a fractured world within and without, into which Leo must soon emerge. In c l a s s i c melodramatic s ty le Leo f i r s t ventures v icar ious ly away from the reactionary and s t u l t i f y i n g conservatism of his c l a s s . One day while at his window-perch, his telescope locks upon a crowd of street women who sing a cockney song that reverberates throughout Leo's t e r r i t o r y . The exuberance of the song ("Goodbye Dolly Grey") provides for Leo's f i r s t genuine smile. He is breaking away from the dry l i f e about him. Stately house and apartment ghettos act as extensions of Leo's schizoid personal i ty . Boorman's s ty le is decidely t h e a t r i c a l . What he does i s to re- invent two-opposing mult i - layered stage " f l a t s " for the cinema. Hence, in a surreal " c e l l block" fashion, Leo's peering reveals the f u l l sweep of human a c t i v i t y . As Leo's te lescopic eye ranges up and down the f l a t opposite his perch, he perceives with horror the humanity that i s his own making. At ground l e v e l , Leo looks down into human degradation as i t s : most repuls ive. A pimp takes money from a lady of the s t reet . A body in a corner shop i s being beaten up by a v icious 108 shopkeeper. The pimp d e l i v e r s t h e money t o L a z l o o f Leo's h o u s e h o l d , who f o r c e s t e n a n t s i n t o p r o s t i t u t i o n i n o r d e r t o pay r e n t s . L e o , ; a t f i r s t i s i n n o c e n t o f h i s i n v o l v e m e n t . In one window a b l a c k drummer p l a y s ' d o l e f u l l y . In a n o t h e r , a w h i t e g i r l i s raped by a b l a c k man. In y e t a n o t h e r , a b l a c k f a m i l y and an animated young g i r l , Salambo (Glenna F o s t e r J o n e s ) argue o v e r f o o d . A l l o f t h i s i n i t i a l v o y e u r i s m i s i n t e r c u t w i t h t h e immediate p r e v i o u s a c t i v i t y w i t h i n Leo's own h o u s e h o l d . As v i o l e n c e between sexes and between r a c e s i s r e v e a l e d t o Leo i n t h e s t r e e t , t h o s e w i t h i n h i s mansion e x h i b i t b e h a v i o u r t h a t i s a l l s u r f a c e manners and b r e e d i n g . S i l v e r s e r v i c e , c u t - g l a s s c r y s t a l , and r e s e r v e d d i n i n g - r o o m e t i q u e t t e , a r e j u x t a p o s e d w i t h images o f t h e i m p o v e r i s h e d Madi f a m i l y w i t h o u t f o o d . The rough p u r e l y s e x u a l g r a t i f i c a t i o n between b l a c k man and w h i t e g i r l t h a t Leo watches, i s c o u n t e r e d by Leo's and M a r g a r e t ' s own p h y s i c a l impotence i n t h e w h i t e , m i r r o r e d , p r i s t i n e , and d i s p a s s i o n a t e bedroom. Through h i s t e l e s c o p e , Leo i s f a c e d w i t h l i f e ' s p r e s s i n g e l e m e n t a l i s s u e s . The sound t r a c k , fragments; ;of Y e a t ' s poem "The Second Coming," d u p l i c a t e s t h e i n t e n s i t y and t h e emptiness o f h i s own l i f e . I f a l l o f t h e i r o n y pushes t h e melodrama deeper and deeper toward t h e b i z a r r e , i t f u n c t i o n s t o o i n p u s h i n g Leo f u r t h e r and f u r t h e r i n t o p s y c h o s i s . The c o n t r a d i c t i o n s Leo w i t n e s s e s d r i v e him made. What saves Leo from c e r t a i n c a t a t o n i a i s t h e appearance o f Rosco ( C a l v i n L o c k h a r t ) , s e l f - p r o c l a i m e d champion o f t h e b l a c k community o f t h e s t r e e t , and f i a n c e e o f Salambo Madi. Rosco saves Leo by becoming h i s a l t e r - e g o . He a l s o saves us from an o u t r i g h t r e j e c t i o n o f both t h e e x t r a v a g a n t and 109 v i o l e n t worlds, by a c t i n g as a moral f o r c e between the two. This l i n k between Rosco and Leo i s forged by the iconography of b i r d s throughout. Boorman n e a t l y plays one world a g a i n s t the other through h i s motif of b i r d s ; they are both index and symbol. The pigeons t h a t Leo as ornithographer observes, are genuine f o r a g i n g r e s i d e n t s of the slum neighborhood. Yet, they are too, much more. I n i t i a l l y , the pigeons s i g n i f y Leo's detachment from h i s own world. Yet in f o l l o w i n g them t o the r o o f t o p s of the tenements they lead him f i r s t t o Rosco, and f i n a l l y t o h i s own redemption. Through Rosco, the b i r d s become agents of freedom, m a n i f e s t a t i o n of the G r a i l . We see Rosco f i r s t through the i r i s eye of Leo's t e l e s c o p e . He i s f u l l of v i g o r , f o r c e , and d e c i s i v e n e s s , as Leo i s not. As Leo watches with i n c r e a s i n g i n t e n s i t y , the l i v e s of the people of the s t r e e t , he i s drawn f i r s t t o the h o r r o r . He witnessed the f a t h e r of the Madi f a m i l y di e of a heart a t t a c k in the s t r e e t , and could only grimace f o r help from behind the b a r r i e r of g l a s s t h a t i s h i s bedroom window-perch. F i n a l l y i f he i s t o understand the n e c e s s i t y of involvement, Rosco must provide the way. With i n c e s s a n t care f o r h i s own people in the neighborhood, Rosco perches c a r e l e s s l y on a roof edge and captures a l a r g e pigeon with a net. Leo i s i n t r i g u e d . He spys upon Rosco with i n c r e a s i n g admiration. The b i r d of course i s a rouse, a decoy, t h a t Rosco w i l l r e l e a s e in the l o c a l green grocers such t h a t amidst the commotion, he can s t e a l food f o r the Madi f a m i l y . Rosco s t e a l s a f r o z e n turkey, then rushes to a tene-ment r o o f t o p waving i t overhead, emblematic of a short term r e s p i t e from d e s t i t u t i o n . 110 Rosco1s vivaciousness Boorman contrasts with the i ns ip id f latness of those of Leo's s tate ly house. Rosco, as a l ter -ego , must summon up Leo's own moral magic. Rosco as talisman is removed from the narrative to provide a way for Leo's own engagement. Rosco's p ro le ta r ia t v ictory gives way suddenly to a more alarming r e a l i t y . As Leo's wandering eye moves randomly from the r i c h l y passionate (and sometimes v io lent) ethic of the tenement, he witnesses an action that prec ip i tates a psychological c r i s i s . Salambo (Glenna Foster Jones), Rosco 1s f iancee is being raped by Kowalski (Kenneth Warren), a Pol ish junk shop merchant. Leo i s struck momentarily dumb. He recovers to c a l l out, but the barr ier of window-glass serves only to magnify his angst. He is driven from his bedroom perch to the s t reet , as a man possessed. If t h i s c r i s i s precip i tates movement, Boorman is careful not to release i t s power too soon. For Leo to be redeemed he must not only turn emotionally toward the p r o l e t a r i a t , he must i n t e l l e c t u a l l y repudiate his own a r i s t o c r a t i c malaise. Boorman achieves t h i s through the manipulation of his sound t rack . Summoned from the roof by the commotion outside Kowalski's shop, Rosco draws Kowalski from his shop by sounding the horn of a t ruck. Once outside, amidst the r i s i n g din of horn, enraged street people and Doris C la rk ' s square physiognomy r inging out soc ia l protest in song, Rosco is lead away by the po l ice . The scene is a cacophony of noise, an ominous reminder of the power of the people. It i s at t h i s point in the f i l m that Margaret, Leo's a r i s t o c r a t i c f iancee throws a party fo r her bourgeois f r iends . Margaret's party turns Leo from c r i s i s to utter desolat ion. I l l Margaret's party sequence is a b izarre , c h i l l i n g , and h i la r ious statement of upper-class ennui. Reminiscent of the party sequenceUn F e l l i n i ' s "8 1/2", Boorman creates a sequence of s u r r e a l i s t fantasy within a fantasy that stands as a pa ra l l e l in-embryo to a l l that i s decadent and incommunicative in Leo's a r i s t o c r a t i c world. Set largely in Fell inesque whites (white gowns, white drapes, white wa l l s , white t i l e d - f l o o r s ) , Margaret's party becomes an orgy of excess. Leo's icons, the birds become the main course. Chicken, turkey-breasts, and legs are gorged away in complete indif ference to the s ign i f icance Leo has made of them. Boorman gives us close-ups of chomping jaws, and greasy f ingers to reveal an egocentric gluttony that is enhanced by the fragmented sound track of e x i s t e n t i a l rage and personal chatter . Amidst the din of gluttony Leo desperately t r i e s to use the house phone to save Salambo. The operator's reply only magnifies the n a r c i s s i s t i c and impersonal. She repeats, "I am t ry ing to connect you." It i s a scene as Gordon Gow observed, "one of the cinema1 s most forcefu l impressions of the 2 communications block." The imposs ib i l i ty of people touching one another is given a f i n a l sumptuous gesture at the end when Margaret crushes out her c igarette against/one of the room's many mirrors. In misjudging Leo's embrace, she lunges into yet another mirror , and kisses herself instead. Boorman's surreal wasteland grows and grows. Leo f lees to the base-ment as a means of avoiding the upstairs bizarre hedonism. Leo stumbles into a basement, Laz lo 's the secret arsenal fo r his own revolut ion. The world of Leo's mansion moves from the bizarre to the f a c i s t , while the world of the street moves more and more to utter depr ivat ion. As Rosco is lead away by the po l i ce , the way is c lear fo r Leo's ascent from 112 catatonia . Leo's l i be ra t ion from his c u l t u r a l l y induced schizophrenia is accomplished through one of the most extraordinary sequences in the f i l m . In a mocking, black, put-down of the fashionable group-therapy sessions of the late s i x t i e s , as in the opening sequence of "Bob, Caro l , Ted and A l i c e , " Boorman puts Leo and his household in a nude swimming-pool therapy session. Exposed in t h e i r nakedness as simply aging mounds of sagging f l e s h , Boorman reveals the a r is tocrats bouncing in the pool to the incantations of a "guru." Boorman's cont inual ly t racking camera reveals the groups' undulating, sagging breasts, and hollow thighs as they anxiously bob up and down searching desperately fo r the commitment that i s outside the nature of t h e i r c l a s s . What Boorman does here is to reveal a defenselessness that softens the edge of the a r i s t o c r a t i c presence. Suddenly they have become merely re f lect ions ' of the people of the s t reet . They too are victims of a soc ia l s t r a t i f i c a t i o n that prevents them from crossing bar r ie rs . The fear of the ar is tocrats that manifests i t s e l f in decadence and red-neck conservatism, i s l i t t l e d i f ferent from the i n s t i n c t i v e violence of the street revealed by those who must f i g h t to survive. As a resu l t of the group therapy session, Leo decides to send food to the dest i tute Madi family . Boorman maintains the su r rea l , and extends the a l l e g o r i c a l . The corner store in which Leo buys food fo r Rosco's family i s yet another surreal environment. The corner shop is set in unearthly black and white as is the foyer of Leo's mansion. Boorman makes the corner shop a l i b e r a l ' s misperception of the needs of the poor. 113 Store goods are arranged in a c l a s s i c a l black and white mix of cans, and dry goods. Nothing is r e a l , becaue food for the bourgeoisie is just not an issue. Watching from the safety of his window-perch, Leo sees the ef fect of his anonymous g i f t . Gorging themselves, not from hedonist excess, but from real hunger, Leo watches the gluttony resu l t in Rosco's f a the r - i n gasping, choking, and dying of s u r f e i t . Staggering before the window of the Madi apartment, he dies r ight before Leo's ho r r i f i ed eyes. Leo snaps in both agony and in defeat, and howls as a mad dog from the pu lp i t of the church in which the funeral takes place. The madness continues. Before Leo's te lescopic eye, Kowalski continues his rapacious behaviour. Salambo in response to Rosco's imprisonment i s forced into p ros t i tu t i on . Jasper, Laz lo 's stand-in and Merl in incarnation is seen as the pimp co l l ec t i ng the monies raised through such depraved a c t i v i t y . Leo's sudden awareness of his being ult imately responsible as landlord fo r the waste he sees about him, forces him f i n a l l y , into the s t reet . Boorman places Leo shrewdly among chi ldren who are preparing for a Guy Fawkes. Day parade. With the chi ldren Leo witnesses f i r s t -hand the dest i tute l i ves of the slum-dwelling women in a street -corner laundry. This is : to >be moved to an eloquent outcry against his own household. The women champion him, and Leo is regenerated by a r t i c u l a t i n g the j u s t i c e of those he w i l l now serve. The women e lect Leo as Rosco's heir and a l l together they lead a mini - revolut ion against the mansion that has caused them to suffer for so long. As the cockney songs of Doris Clark create the f i rs t -wave of 114 Leo's new act ive s e l f , the mansion is blown up with the same fireworks the chi ldren have gathered to commemorate a more h i s t o r i c a l act of revolut ion. If the f i l m ends with an enflamed wind forcing new resolve into Leo's character, i t points too, to a phoenix v is ion of a brave new world r i s i n g from the ashes of destruct ion. Boorman stops short of an apocal-ypse. Margaret is drawn to the new p a s s i o n - f i l l e d Leo. She jo ins him on the bat t le l i n e , where love and commitment haveflowered over den ia l . Boorman's "Leo the Last" then is a comic al legory whose complexity is hidden behind a dazzl ing v isual s t y l e , and an excess of the burlesque. C r i t i c s have argued that t h i s very excess depowers Boorman's theme, by preventing i t from i t s being taken more ser ious ly , "Leo the Last" is a comic farce that echoes with the b izar re , the grotesque, the melodramatic grand gesture. Yet I would argue that the very triumphal destruction of Leo's own mansion is the one gesture that di f fuses the exaggerations that t y p i f i e d Leo's decadent l i f e s t y l e throughout the narrat ive . By destroying the symbolic source of the b izar re , Leo's bourgeois idealism is able to be replaced by a simpler, more d i rect sense of lov ing. The hyperbole allows for Boorman's d i r e c t o r i a l boldness, while at the same time i t avoids the heavy-handedness that comes with t reat ing a subject too ser ious ly . In "Leo the Last ," Boorman creates a series of encapsulated wasteland environments. These environments c o l l i d e by v i r tue of t he i r comic excess. That excess expresses the chaotic desires of Leo's own emotional l i f e . The humour, accentuates the humanity in Leo's detachment from experience, and the separation of his inner and outer r e a l i t y . 115 Boorman's surreal v is ion reduces man's inc ip ient violence to a madness--of-the-moment that i s both endearing in i t s emotional force , and pos i t ive in i t s ultimate ro le in man's sa lvat ion . Boorman's barr iers are g lass , not p o l i t i c s ; perception, not race. In choosing fa rce , Boorman chooses a form that allows for the absurd to provide the means of integrating one's inner and outer l i f e . With a mult i - layered sound track more akin to Altman, and a st ructura l b r i l l i a n c e that reveals a narrat ive in a series of opposing tableaux, "Leo the Last" i s a pos i t ive T i t t l e f i l m that shows Boorman to be a d i rector with a sense of the subterranean that i s basic to the Gra i l myth. 116 CHAPTER EIGHT: "DELIVERANCE" (1972) The eerie landscapes of the Gra i l legend, the Enchanted Cast le , Castle Per i lous , the garden, and the ominous forest , are places where the Gra i l hero must run a gauntlet of challenges. In these places, he must prove and discover himself by gaining control over natural and supernatural forces . Here, the Gra i l questor meets beasts, dragons, monsters, and enchanting women, a l l of whom represent forces of e v i l . It was in the forest that King Arthur was t r icked into making love with his h a l f - s i s t e r Morgana, only to conceive Mordred who rose against him. Like the Gra i l i t s e l f , the forest in the Arthurian romances is the home of the female p r i n c i p l e . Typ ica l l y , in the forest a knight such as Lancelot or Arthur, meets a beauti ful enchantress. The knight is soon bewitched by her beauty. For her love, he agrees to do anything she wishes. This b r i e f , happy encounter soon makes the knight drowsy and he f a l l s asleep in a meadow. Upon awakening he f inds himself in a cast le from which he cannot escape. Simply, by subordinating his w i l l t o t a l l y to another, the knight-errant has become l i t t l e more than a functionary. He has in short, become vict im to something inside himself that resulted in his forest refuge from real l i f e . John Boorman's "Deliverance" (1972) weds these Arthurian notions of the forest with the expression of American character as influenced by the wilderness. The American wilderness as seen by Mark Twain, Cooper, Hawthorne, and even Hemingway, was treated with a kind of Arthurian 117 rever ie . The forest was a place where a personal code of honour was learned. Terror awaited those who penetrated into i t s i n t e r i o r . It was the landscape that provided the i n i t i a t i o n ground the American boy-man; i t loomed metaphorical with new hope, and lost idea ls . In "Deliverance" Boorman reveals his most f a i t h f u l understanding of the Arthurian f o r e s t , , while at the same time, bruta l ly challenging the American notion of the forest as the place of redolent renewal. Boorman's treatment of James Dickey's f i r s t novel i s a b i t ing unmelodious counter to the myth of gained manhood that i s achieved through an interact ion with nature. For Boorman, there is no deliverance; and the Garden of Eden is stained with blood. "Deliverance" is a harsher treatment of Dickey's romantic v i s i o n . As such, Boorman undercuts an ethic that i s such a part of American l i f e , while at the same time, remaining true to the more complex sense of the forest inherent in the Gra i l myth. The opening episode establishes two motifs that become joined in the f i l m ' s narrat ive . In "Deliverance," Boorman reveals that contemporary urban man is merely an extension of a technological society that denies completely any p o s s i b i l i t y of an inner l i f e . Such denial forces his characters, away from t h i s stark r e a l i t y into an even starker world of nightmare. This modern destructive eth ic is revealed in the opening t i t l e s montage. A long shot of a newly constructed rura l water reservoir is replaced by two four-wheel drive vehicles moving, almost imperceptibly through the misty blue h i l l s of Appalachia. Earth-moving vehicles supersede the h i l l s and reveal the completed reservoir we have just seen 118 previously under construction. The two vans intrude into th i s i n t e r i o r speeding along a winding country road. A crane shot moves us down to the vehicles and we t rave l with them noting gear and guns. A voice from one of the vehicles imparts that t h e i r t r i p i s on the " l a s t , w i l d , unpolluted, unfucked r i v e r in the south." Suddenly the opening majestic view of Appalachia is gone, and the t i t l e "Deliverance" is cut into the previous shot -of the reservoi r . Lewis comments undermine the beauty and the awe the landscape ought to generate in those who enter i t . Lewis' continues ta lk ing in voice-over as the warning s i ren of an impending explosion halts the bulldozers certa in destruction of the fo res t . This s i l e n t immutable forest is revealed to be t o t a l l y incongruous to Lewis l imited s e n s i t i v i t y and the rapaciousness of a technical society . This opening creates a t e r r i b l e portent, a paral le l - in -embryo, of the subsequent action of the f i l m . Technological man, and a l l his works, is out of place in these Appalachian h i l l s . More, he is out of place with himself. Lewis opening d ia t r ibe to his companions about ecology as they race toward the Cahulawassee River i s not revealing of an ecology of mind. His sermonizing to the others about the rape of the landscape is merely verbal bombast. What we hear juxtaposed against the cold but ent ic ing scenery of the Great Smokey Mountains are comments of a supposedly c i v i l i z e d , yet s t i l l i n s t i n c t i v e mankind. That the four weekend canoe-t r ippers could be lost in any greater sense of having taken a wrong road in t h e i r dr ive for the r i v e r , i s wholly a l i e n . They are men of cont ro l , ostensibly in complete cont ro l . What they t a l k about makes them neither i n t e l l e c t u a l s , or poets. They are just four ordinary American "guys" who have f l e d the wicked c i t y fo r a weekend of some freedom and a l i t t l e 119 canoeing adventure. The red-neck commentary and sexual innuendos heard in voice-over, as we watch t h e i r vehicle move through backwards roads is as acceptable to us as is t h e i r boyish, i f loud, camaraderie. It i s only f i n a l l y when we meet them against the arrest ing depiction of the back-country shacks of the mountain-men of the Cahulawassee, do we gain any real measure of t h e i r l imited character. They are not so much stereotypes, as archetypes in: what w i l l become an unforgiving challenge against the mystique of the American sportsman. Boorman's t a l e i s a furious moral fab le . Lewis (Burt Reynolds) i s not unl ike the dialogue that has^preceded him. The readily-acknowledged leader of the t r i p i s i r o n i c a l l y , the one most i l l - s u i t e d to convey any meaning. He is an abusive, co ld , warrior who substitutes bravado for fee l ings . Lewis sets the terms for entering th i s soon to be destroyed wilderness. Those terms remove him completely from any emotional response except fear . Boorman undercuts Lewis' opening commentary about man's destructiveness toward nature by bedecking him in a technological armor that i t s e l f c a l l s attention to his deep-rooted uncertainty. With wet-suit top, steel bow and arrow, d iver ' s watch, "he-man" t a l k and physique, Lewis is l i t t l e more than a boy-scout with a dose of sadism. Lewis has a l l the c l iches of an outdoorsman, "you've got to lose yourself before you can f ind yoursel f , " yet his language reveals him to be one who sees the forest only as an adversary. Playing the "game of surv iva l " fo r Lewis is a deadly serious business. Bobby (Ned Beatty) i s ever w is t fu l of his lost adolescence. He remains throughout incapable of moving beyond adolescent sexual fantasy. 120 He is f a t , slow, whining and immature, and is cast to r e f l e c t the very opposite of Lewis' physical dynamism. The rusted out wreck that greets them at the h i l l b i l l y settlement from where they are to enter the r i v e r , makes no sympathetic bond with Bobby- He misses the s ign i f icance of the poverty and soon-to-be displaced people. The wreck becomes instead an i ron ic disclaimer of his lost adolescent sexual prowess. A l l he can mutter about the car wreck is an egocentric, " A l l my youth and passion was spent on that back seat ." Drew (Ronny Cox) is the most emotional. He is the most vulnerable of the four. He has the engaging innocence of a c h i l d in that he communicates through his music. Yet Drew is trapped in his very musical and l y r i c sense, in that i t takes him no farther than an i n i t i a l musical interlude with an albino h i l l b i l l y boy. He does not understand the nature of the duel between the "Dueling Banjos*" and can sense only d is tant l y the f u t i l i t y of l i f e that turns the h i l l b i l l i e s of the Cahulawassee River into morons, or savages. When he must argue for reason af ter the f i r s t murder is committed, Drew is so emotionally involved, his attempt at an objective r a t i o n a l i t y i s lost in emotional hyper-v e n t i l a t i o n . Ed (John Voight) at the outset i s an Atlanta businessman who " l i k e s his l i f e . " Yet,, he is uncertain as to why he accompanies Lewis on these weekend t r i p s . Ed, i n i t i a l l y i s c lea r l y a f ra id of the wilderness ("Why do you go so f a s t , Lewis?"). He is too, a f ra id of the mountain-men who perceive the four as agents of a " c i t i f i e d " technology that would cut t h e i r power- l ines, remove them from t h e i r homes, and f lood t h e i r t e r r i t o r y 121 in the name of progress. Yet Ed is the one most captivated by the forest wilderness, about him. In Dickey 1s: novel, Ed perceives the r i ve r in terms of fantasy. For him, i t embodies a magic that can only be assuaged by one other. His opening f a i t h in Lewis is made very e x p l i c i t in Dickey's novel. For Ed, the r i v e r ; unrolled slowly, forced to show i t s co lo rs , cur l ing and snapping back whenever one of us turned loose. The whole land was very tense u n t i l we put our four [beer] steins on i t s corners and l a i d the r i v e r out to run for us through the mountains 150 miles north. Lewis! hand took a penci l and marked out a small strong ' x ' in a place where some of the green bled away and the paper changed with high ground, and began to work downstream, north-east to south-west through the printed woods. I watched the hand rather than the locat ion , fo r i t seemed to have power over the t e r r a i n , and when i t stopped for Lewis' voice to explain something, i t was though a l l streams everywhere quit running, hanging s i l e n t l y where they were to le t the point be made. 1 Ed is closed to a f u l l communion with the meaning of the wilderness u n t i l he has overcome his own simple f a i t h in Lewis and becomes aware of the violence of his own nature. Only then is he awakened to a new : s p i r i t u a l maturity through the range of emotions demanded of him by the environment of the r i v e r . In the novel, at the end, Ed achieves a pantheist ic bond with the Cahulawassee River, i t becomes his own "private 2 possession." In the movie he learns about his own v io lent heart, but t h e i r is no bond with the r i v e r . Boorman's f i l m reveals the tension being the two opposing forces of 122 personal t e r ro r , and c o l l e c t i v e technology, by the careful juxtaposit ion of a r t i f a c t s in the opening. Boorman's images of the mountain-men and t h e i r homestead af fects the early narrat ive structure in two ways. F i r s t , i t continues the t e r r i b l e portent of what happens to mechanization in the face of an immutable nature. Secondly, i t lays bare the more fearsome aspects of human nature that w i l l be rea l i zed l a te r , on the r i ve r i t s e l f . Wrecked and rusting cares are everywhere. Barns, houses, hubcaps, t o rn -out automobile seats, and tool-sheds s p i l l over, into the fo res t . They become at i t s entry, indist inguishable from i t . We are uncertain just what buildings are inhabited by people. Broken-down machines are l e f t abandoned. Delapidated dwellings seem to merge with the very landscape. People have never quite moved i n , or out. Boorman's opening achieves more than just a sense of desolat ion; he achieves a sense of a t e r r i b l e f u t i l i t y that i s tinged with an awful innocence. He achieves th i s by in tercut t ing images of worldl iness - - the two vehicles carrying the new canoes, and gear, the adventurers, t h e i r new c lo th ing , c igars , hats and guitars - - with shots of mountain-men in i l l - f i t t i n g ove ra l l s , and i n t e r i o r views of laconic chi ldren lost in the catatonia of retardat ion, who are presided over by grandmothers, powerless in s e n i l i t y . Ed peers into t h i s darkness and t r i e s to fathom the nature of t h i s discrepancy. He cannot. Boorman keeps us away from anything more than an i n i t i a l stunned vagueness by middle distance shots and a closed cinematic s t y l e . In documentary fashion, Boorman does not l inger . Immediately a f ter Ed's encounter with the retarded chi ldren we are given Drew's meeting with the 123 albino c h i l d . Through t h i s meeting, we are given the al l -powerful musical le i tmot i f that dominates the rest of the f i l m . The strange thing in the duel between Drew and the albino-boy with the banjo, i s not the comic respite i t gives to what i s an essent ia l l y bleak world. Though indeed Boorman builds in r e l i e f to restore our feel ings in what has been a h o r r i f i c s i t u a t i o n . The dueling musical encounter becomes an ominous touchpoint. Drew and the mute Albino boy are l i t t l e more than dueling musical technic ians. The joy is momentary, and not returned. The albino-boy turns away from Drew's thankful hand-shake because in some deep h a l f - f e l t way, he knows these strangers are s t i l l outs iders , and they have threatened his homestead. The opening sequences then establ ishes that the Cahulawassee is a closed environment, peopled by incommunicative h i l l b i l l i e s who, by v i r tue of t h e i r threatened s i tuat ion with the dam, are closed and suspicious of a l l outs iders. Their fear i s confirmed as Lewis "pays off" one h i l l b i l l y to dr ive t h e i r vehicles to a pre-arranged, decided-upon location down-stream. What Boorman has done is move these two opening themes of te r ro r and technology c loser to the immediate realm of the r i v e r journey i t s e l f . Boorman's camera s ty le reveals the most fear fu l aspects of the wilderness. The forest i s f i r s t presented in a cold greenness. It i s revealed to Ed and Lewis in the: mirror of one of the veh ic les , as they speed towards the r i v e r . They are almost obscured by the wilderness that races by in the r e f l e c t i o n . Such a shot i s a v isual portent of the 124 sparkl ing water of the rapids that w i l l , l a t e r , obscure them too. The wilderness obtrudes everywhere. Roads become dead-ends. The four adventurers are photographed tunneling t h e i r way to the r i v e r whose immanent presence is a source of increasing, nervous tension. Once at the r i v e r , a rusted-out abandoned car causes us to l ink again the r i v e r with i t s desperate, ret icent people. Boorman's haunting image of the mute albino boy looking down at the canoeists from a pr imi t ive bridge spanning the r i v e r , ra ises further questions of unease. How did he get there? The canoeists driven to the r i v e r , ostensibly some distance away. If the boy is here, who else is here? What is he doing here? Is i t a face of a boy who wishes to impart knowledge of danger? Or, i s i t a face that s i l e n t l y mocks t h e i r presence?; The face w i l l remain with us to the end of the f i l m . The r i v e r and i t s surrounding forest i s photographed in such a way that reveals the adventurers w i l l not eas i l y leave. Boorman's cinemato-grapher Vilmos Zsigmond "Sugarland Express" (1964), "McCabe and Mrs. M i l l e r " (1969), "Obsession" (1973), "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" (1977), achieved the r i v e r ' s somber and threatening presence through a physical prowess that enabled him to get into corners closed to other cameramen. More, Zsigmond used a color desaturation process that removed the picturesqueness that usually accompanies color photography. Zsigmond's high angled shots of t h e i r beginning r i v e r journey, lends a qual i ty of awesomeness to t h i s wilderness experience. The two canoes are diminished in s i ze by a wilderness that engulfs them. Zsigmond's high angled shots makes i t c lea r , that once they have entered the fo res t , a l l other entry and e x i t points are, in e f fect , c losed. Zsigmond creates fo r Boorman a 125 gorge- l ike i n i t i a l view of the r i v e r that aids the narrat ive by emphasizing the motif of ter ror that i s to soon emerge. Once, Ed, Lewis, Bobby and Drew, are under the pr imit ive bridge, the v isual world that Boorman creates reveals a sense that t h e i r journey is one with profound, yet inaccessible dimensions. The forest is revealed in a myriad of ways; creepers, deadfa l l , dead t rees , water snakes, overhanging branches, sphagnum moss, and vines, surround the characters who are kept a middle distance. Depth of f i e l d is short, so background and foreground are quickly blurred. Hence, movement is exaggerated. A l l t h i s emphasizes the paranoia that is to take charge of the characters af ter the f i r s t h i l l b i l l y murder. The movement toward that murder we r e a l i z e , i s inev i tab le . Having "survived" some early rapids that renews t h e i r mutual confidence in each other ("you did good Chubby" Lewis says to Bobby), they camp for the night. The camp episode reveals the l im i t s of experience that mark these four. Lewis reveals immediately the k i l l e r - i n s t i n c t by spearing a f i s h with his bow and arrow. Bobby creates an "instant brothel" for himself with his bott le and a i r mattress, and Drew's melanc-holy song ends with the opening obligatory chords of "Dueling Banjo." He sings: red meat when I'm hungry, moonshine when I'm dry greenbacks when I'm hard up, r e l i g ion when I d ie . [The] world's just a ba t t le , and l i f e just a dram,:, and when the bott le i s empty, i t a i n ' t worth a damn.2 Clear ly Drew's l y r i c a l ennui suggests the passive mode of the emoter. Boorman reveals to us that he is not capable of being much more than a 126 scr ibe . Drew responds to experience by emoting upon things past. The continual two-chord repet i t ion of the haunting "Dueling Banjos" theme s i g n i f i e s Drew1 s essent ia l pass iv i ty . The foreboding that the "duel" in fact presented, is as closed to him, as are the s t i r r i n g s of mutual a f f i n i t y that possibly urged the albino mountain boy to the bridge. In Drew, ambiguity reigns. He responds, yet that is as. fa r as he w i l l come. He l i k e Bobby, s t i l l l ingers in fantasy. The f i r s t real change, from a tolerated apprehension of the forest wilderness to a sense of numbing te r ro r , takes place on the second day of the journey, when Bobby and Ed are confronted by two mountain-men who are bent on sexually assault ing them. As transformations of the enchanting beauties of the fo res t , t h i s episode is p ivota l not so much for i t s own vio lence, but fo r the violence i t c a l l s up in others. Bobby's sexual l inger ing adolescence is abruptly wiped away with his homosexual rape by one of the mountain-men. The h i l l b i l l y , l i k e the boy on the bridge, has l i t e r a l l y appeared from the forest as i f from nowhere. Ed, just about to be v io lated in the same way by his toothless companion, r is spared by the appearance of Lewis who suddenly appears from the barr ier of the fo rest . Lewis k i l l s Bobby's attacker as calmly as he k i l l e d a rest ing f i s h . The t h i r d remaining h i l l b i l l y disappears into the forest cover. Suddenly, a l l i s changed. Lewis has found f i n a l l y a combative s i tuat ion that i s worthy of his warrior e th ic . He is bound to bury the body and "win" his way back to c i v i l i z a t i o n with cunning and more violence i f necessary. The boy-soldier has found his M a i - l a i . Bobby, in shock, wants only to avenge his v io la t ion with v iolence, and Drew in his f i nes t hour, f a i l s to convince Ed to bring the dead h i l l y b i l l y "out" for the 127 appraisal by the laws of society . Suddenly the camaraderie of bravado is over. The motivations of each except fo r Drew, no longer represent team in te rest . Each acts in accordance with the v io lent knowledge the sexual assault has released upon them. Bobby, v io la ted , in shock, confronts the dead mountain-man, whose stance-in-death (head wedged between a t ree -branch), Boorman uses to prefigure the disoriented stance of Drew's corpse la ter on. "Did he bleed?" Bobby asks seeking some l i k e - s i g n of his own humi l iat ion. Bobby wishes to bury the murdered h i l l b i l l y along with Lewis fo r s i m i l a r , though d i f ferent reasons. An invest igat ion into the death would inev i tably bring to l i gh t Bobby's homosexual rape. As such, the sexual overtones of these men alone would s h i f t from the boasting of male chums, to intimations of a more sordid nature that would jeop-ardize t h i s wholly male r i t u a l outing forever. More, Bobby's own sexua l i ty , he being the rec ip ient of the assault , would be examined f i r s t . Hence Bobby, l i k e Lewis, wishes to close ranks on the a f f a i r , for the horror that r ipp les beyond th i s act i s too horr ib le to imagine. Lewis too, rea l i zes he has, in k i l l i n g the assa i lant , stepped beyond a c lea r l y marked boundary. A t r i a l we are to ld w i l l bring Lewis re t r i bu t i on , and that becomes for him the ultimate game he must now t ry to avoid. Ed, despite Drews' emotional protestat ions, says " i t ' s not one of your fucking games . . . i t ' s a matter fo r the law," He chooses also to bury the body. The reasons fo r his actions are c lear . Ed has f a i l e d to under-stand just what i t i s inside of him that draws him to suffer Lewis' patronage on these t r i p s . He has too, f a i l e d as a hunter to k i l l anything. In that he was incapable of k i l l i n g a deer he encountered with bow and arrow that morning. Lewis for Ed, represents a manhood: he fee ls incapable 128 of achieving. Fu l l of ambiguity he cannot accept the respons ib i l i t y that he must. Ed i s "with Lewis" because for the moment Lewis presents the strongest way out of a personal dilemma. As in the Gra i l myth,the sexuali that surfaced in the forest has l a i d them bare. For "Deliverance" to maintain i t s narrat ive c r e d i b i l i t y , the actions of i t s character must be consistent throughout. Why should the two mountain-men commit the assault in the f i r s t place? Boorman has been careful to bu i ld a background fo r them that makes t h e i r actions acceptable From the outset, Boorman creates for us four urban adventurers who are in e f fec t , wholly unprepared to accept the forest wilderness on w i l l i n g and restrained terms. Ed, Lewis, Bobby, Drew .. . a l l suf fer an apprehensive-ness in t h i s new environment. It sharpens the pa r t icu la r emotional or personal def ic iency that each bears. To t h i s "natural" apprehensiveness, Boorman adds images of wilderness inhabitants who are more closed, more suspicious, more threatened, and more v io len t , than the protagonists themselves. The stance of the mountain-men that we are presented with as the adventurers move to the Cahulawassee, ranges from mute desolation (the image of the grandmother beside her retarded grandchild) , to d i s -t rus t ( " h e l l , they ' re t respassers!" one h i l l b i l l y acknowledges to the other) , to sado-masochistic rage (the self - immolation one mountain-man i n f l i c t s upon himself a f ter an acccidental in ju ry ) . None of the mountain people are communicative among themselves, or with the weekend adventurers. What communication there i s , i s highly charged with emotional confrontation ("What the he l l you wanna go-fuck around With the r i v e r fo r . . . once you g i t i n , you can't g i t . o u t " ) . Boorman shows us t h e i r r i f l e s as v i s i b l y as we note Lewis' neoprene "armour" and steel 129 bow and arrow.. More, the h o r r i f i c images of the retarded chi ldren are echoed in the l imited mentality of the mountain-men themselves whose insidious smiles, p iercing eyes, and broken teeth , gives testimony to a determinist ic survival ethic that reaches subterranean levels fa r beyond Lewis' clean m i l i t a r i sm . Not only then, are the mountain-men closed; they are closed to any knowledge of themselves. Boorman is careful to have us compare them to Lewis, and we sense the moral product of t h i s incestuousness is a latent violence that has doubled upon i t s e l f . It w i l l be remembered that incestuous sexual i ty appears f i r s t in the fo res t . The e f fect of Boorman's exploration of the inhabitants of the Cahulawassee h i l l s i s a f e l t t ruth about the violence in man that i s perceived but not yet made r e a l . Boorman portends the action long before i t a r r i ves . The h i l l b i l l i e s action is wholly consistent with larger issues at stake, in that they act to fue l a slow awareness with the same unrelenting presence that i s the forest i t s e l f . There is another interpretat ion of the homosexual act on the part of the h i l l b i l l i e s . Its roots point to a narrat ive s h i f t of attention from man, to the r i v e r . Boorman has shown us previously the negative ef fects of the sexual i ty that lurks in a l l men . . . from Bobby's adolescent preoccupations that leads him to t reat people as one would a prost i tute ("give him a f i v e , " he says to Drew af ter the dueling duet), to the i r rep ress ib le sexual i ty of the mountain-men that s p i l l s over into the chi ldren born retarded in abject poverty. It also points to the sexual depiction of the wilderness i t s e l f as revealed in fo lk vernacular . . . 130 ("whatdo you want to go f uckin' around there fo r? " ) . Such a way of per-ceiving the r i v e r not as a "mother nature," but as an extension of a sexual l i b i d o , gives the r i ve r not just profane q u a l i t i e s , but sexually profane q u a l i t i e s . "Deliverance" is more about a deeper metaphoric under-standing of a forest-wi lderness than i t i s about adventure or natural chaos. By the time the four adventurers bury the murdered mountain-man in a panic that Drew at least , hopes w i l l exorcise his g u i l t , what i s becoming dominant i s the l ink between the destructive mind-set that the urban dwellers bring to the wilderness, and the loathing repression of the mountain-men themselves, who resent t h e i r int rus ive technology. His theme of hatred and fear now amalgamates within the idea of the r i v e r . The Garden of Eden despoils man; i t does so sexual ly . Nature and animus have become one. This change in the thematic focus of the narrative necessitates a change in Boorman's aesthet ics . Previously cinematography avoided largely the c lose-up. Characters were kept largely at a distance. Boorman kept us distanced from them, and they from the wilderness. With the rape scene, a l l that changes. Boorman now opts fo r a much wider use of the c lose-up in order to take us into the nightmare. We are no longer excited by the groups navigation of the r i v e r , as we were with the b r i l l i a n t , spark l ing , estab l ish shots of canoeists on the Cahulawassee, now, menace and v io la t i on lurk behind every t ree . Through the use of the close-up, we see Ed, Bobby, and Lewis, watching, wai t ing . Through the use of the close-up and a camera subject ive, we are forced to watch and wait tool 131 The qual i ty of nightmare that i s the fo rest , i s shaped further by a colour bleaching process that pales the greens, and gives an even more sombre and threatening qual i ty to the wilderness. After the rape sequence, Boorman removes a l l the primary colours by using a desaturation process that leeched the v i v i d rusts , of the abandoned cars , and soft greens of the fo res t . Shots o f t r e e s and of the r i v e r , avoided the sky. The resul t ing colour loss achieves a s u r r e a l i s t i c e f f e c t . The r i v e r i s not out there; i t becomes metaphoric of a darkness with us. Boorman achieves th i s qual i ty of aberration in a s ign i f i can t moment e a r l i e r in the f i l m . When Ed and Lewis are speeding toward the r i v e r and the forest i s re f lected in t h e i r veh ic le 's windshield, both images of man and forest become superimposed. The ef fect i s momentarily hal lucinogenic. Is the forest real? Are the men r e a l l y there? The demarcation l ine between r e a l i t y and nightmare Boorman plants early fo r us, to notice and to forget , such that he can resurrect i t again.when river.and mentality become one. Boorman's colour desaturation process i s used with greatest e f fect in the episode in which Ed alone must climb the c l i f f - f a c e out of the gorge that has destroyed the canoes, maimed Lewis, and turned he and Bobby into whimpering ch i ld ren . The episode marks the climax of the narrat ive , and i t brings together other technical aspects of Boorman's c r a f t . Ed's involvement with the c l i f f - f a c e is revealed as almost a b e a t i f i c experience. Drew never recovers from the shock of the murder. The r i v e r claims him as i t becomes move savage with rapids in t h e i r f l i g h t . Lewis, ever v i g i l a n t fo r the outside threat , claims Drew was shot, but the sounds of the rapids, smothers the report. 132 We are l e f t to ponder Drew's death. Is i t the resu l t of the embodiment of e v i l that the r i v e r has become? Or i s Lewis' paranoid claim true? Ambiguity reigns. Ed alone, must climb out of the raging gorge to n u l l i f y the panic that has taken hold. Boorman takes us up with Ed on his climb in a long close-up crane shot. As he nudges past overhangs and l i t e r a l l y pushes his face into the rock -c l ing ing weeds, Boorman desaturates the background presence of the r i v e r and gorge so much so, that i t appears so la r i zed . A mood synthesizer e f fects an eerie echoing of the "Dueling Banjoes" theme in slow, low ponderous, ominous tones. The r i v e r t r u l y , has become a n ight -mare. Ed must crawl up the gorge to the knowledge of the darkness that l i e s in his own heart. Above the r i v e r he k i l l s a s ta lk ing mountain-man with Lewis' bow and arrow, and f a l l s with him back into the gorge. Ed and the v ict im of his own violence become entangled underwater, and through that image Boorman s i g n i f i e s that the menace of the fo res t , and the r i v e r is essent ia l l y in him. Through the cl imb, the myst ica l , properties of the wilderness are removed. For Ed, te r ro r has become a kind of beauty. Ed's personal ambiguity has become act ion . Through that act ion , he has gained knowledge. This knowledge doesn't bond him to the r i v e r , he is repulsed by i t . Boorman makes c lear the change in Ed with an aesthetic f u l l of rep l icat ions and inversions. Pr ior to Ed's confrontation with his own v io lent nature on the c l i f f - f a c e , the echo of the rape and of the murder rings down the length of the Cahulawassee. In post-synching the sound track Boorman uses sound "to d i rect the eye to something on the screen 133 3 that [he] would l i k e people to look a t . " The p ig 's shriek of Bobby's sexual penetration by the mountain-men is echoed by a sound d is to r t ion not unl ike what Boorman does to his use of co lor . Weare directed to the scraping of one metal canoe over the rocks as i t plunges towards the gorge; i t has become Bobby's shrieking w r i t - l a r g e . Through Boorman's d istorted sound t rack , a double entendre is achieved. Bodies, both dead and a l ive , have become f u l l y integrated with the idea of the wilderness. Figures of death have extended beyond themselves and have now become part of a threatening and yet r i c h l y impersonal landscape. Boorman has been careful to portray a wilderness that embodies, and personi f ies the animal in man. Yet, in terms of the narrat ive , he must, espec ia l ly in terms of Ed, begin to d i f fuse t h i s same h o r r i f i c presence in order to confirm for us that Ed's climb is epistemological . Boorman confirms Ed's growing awareness through the episode in which he buries his f r iend Drew. Ed lays Drew to rest in the r i v e r in exactly the same way as the h i l l b i l l y that Ed k i l l e d was himself interned. Drew'is weighted and sunk in the r i ve r beside a huge boulder that Boorman is careful to compose mid-frame, such that i t i s suggestive of an upthrust screaming n a t u r a l i s t i c reaction on the part of the wilderness towards the calm eulogy that Ed de l i ve rs . Ed's eulogy for Drew t e l l s a l l . It can be interpreted that his statement is r e a l l y a eulogy for that "Drew-like part of himself" that has died. "The best of us" has died in Drew, and Ed knows i t ; Drew's poetic incapab i l i t y and emotional decision not to enter the world of violence ( " i t ' s a matter fo r the law"), Ed also f e l t at the outset of 134 the story; ("Let 's go back" he t e l l s Lewis after the f i r s t meeting with the mountain-men). Ed has entered the world of v io lence, done v io lence, and now l i k e Lewis, must cover up the horror that he has w i l l e d . Ed has met the wilderness on i t s own terms and in the process he must now continue to use that violence in order to "survive." Ed hasn't gained a manhood, and t h i s i s the c r i t i c a l point . . . he has lost a part of his gentle sou l . Boorman confirms t h i s interpretat ion in the continued deceit Ed must do when he, Bobby, and the str icken and broken Lewis f i n a l l y do manage to canoe out of the Cahulawasse., A synthesized minor key version of "Dueling Banjos" attests to t h i s s h i f t of focus. Boorman's d i s -to r t i on of his music becomes symbolic of a basic change within Ed's mode of th ink ing . As Ed works slowly out of the Cahulawassee, and across the r i s i n g reservoir (shotnow in safer hues of autumn rus t ) , Boorman reveals fo r us with a subjective camera, the real nature of that change. In a haunting p a r a l l e l between the bulldozers immutably destroying the wilderness in the construction of the dam, and the survivors canoeing out of darkness, we see just how pyrrhic the v ictory is that man has gained. Technology w i l l bury the idea of the wilderness. Progress w i l l d isplace knowledge. In the process the violence that has been done w i l l be submerged. Modern man and mountain-man have become one. In turning away, in covering up, the awareness of violence that has embodied in the wilderness, repression, a l i enat ion , and violence emerge. Through the haunting images of the exumed cof f ins and Church of Chr ist that are being moved to higher ground as Ed, Lewis and Bobby, make 135 t h e i r way slowly to Aintry , Boorman makes his v io lent theme universal . The sequence c l e a r l y echoes the sodomy and violence that surfaces with the loss of s p i r t u a l i t y . Here Boorman is at his best in that he rep l icates in the same numbing way, the power of e a r l i e r scenes, such as the boy on the bridge that c r ies out fo r meaning. Here, Boorman shows us in true Freudian elegance, just how re l ig ious pathos can cross a t r i p - l i n e and allow for a cruel complacency in i t s stead. Lewis, Ed, and the mountain-men have l e f t conscience, and entered the t e r r i t o r y of Win-chester jurisprudence. Technology (be i t the r i s i n g reservoi r , or the mountain-men's guns) has replaced transcendence. Sher i f f Bui lard (James Dickey) knows Ed's cover-up story of Drew's accidental drowning is untrue. He knows too that t h e i r "accident" i s connected to the disappear-ance of a fourth mountain-man, and for a time, makes a half -hearted attempt to drag the r i v e r . Yet Boorman is careful to make Bul lard 's suspicions l i k e Ed's , or Lewis ' , or the mountain-men themselves, ambiguous and unclear. Bui lard l i k e Ed, i s dimly aware of the cost of the loss of humanity within his t e r r i t o r y . Bul lard wants to " l e t things die peace-f u l " because he, l i k e Marlow, in Conrad's Heart of Darkness, knows some things are just too awful to pursue. Ed's breakdown at the table of the Aintry rooming house where he convalesces, Boorman uses to confirm in us the psychological distance Ed has come. Here however, Boorman casts the locals with a h i l l b i l l y l i k e -ness that i s exter io r only. In fact we see them around the supper table as being simple, shy, sympathetic, and sens i t i ve . Food is the topic of conversation. The violence Ed r e a l i z e s , rests not in them, but within himself . 136 Boorman never allows us to forgive Ed, and hence to dispel the metaphor that i s the wilderness. He need not have climbed the c l i f f -face and have k i l l e d a mountain-man. He might l i k e Drew, have f led the scene. Ed chose to climb the face, and in that climbing saw the spectre of murder that revealed i t s e l f as a p o s s i b i l i t y to him. More, Bu l la rd 's missing mountain-man has witnessed a murder and has disappeared into the wilderness. Was he shot? Was he shot by Ed? Did the toothless mountain-man k i l l him? We do not know. Boorman does not displace the ambiguity because that ambiguity has a d i rect purpose in his moral fab le . Unanswered questions reverberate from "Deliverance" and give shape to the nightmare. Ed's phantom-like witness of the hand that comes from the water, becomes the nightmare that we a l l are pushed to share. As 4 Stephen Farber has pointed out, "Deliverance" has an a l l e g o r i c a l qual i ty that nonetheless presses i t s message with a sense of adventure, and with a t i g h t , v i s u a l , almost poetic sense of great reserve. The secret of "Deliverance's" punch l i e s in Boorman's merciless compounding of messages such that i t becomes much more of a mystery than one of merely solving a crime of murder. "Deliverance" is a mystery of sor ts ; But, I would argue that i t i s a very special mystery. Boorman's f i l m echoes with mystical s ign i f icance . Boorman's theme explodes completely the Jeffersonian dream of a rural Utopia. The geometric progression of images that echo one to another takes us into a t a l e with even greater secret, and more mythic, dimensions. Boorman's "Deliverance" forces us to face the disorder within ourselves that i s chaot ica l l y inherent in the r i v e r . For Boorman, the wilderness experience is one that does not reconfirm our lost values. Nor does i t 137 reaff i rm our cu l tu ra l de f in i t ions of gender. What "Deliverance" del ivers is a numbing recognition of the outrage that i s buried in our sexual i ty . The f i l m opened to mixed reviews. Vincent Canby (New York Times, July 31, 1972), felt the ponderous dialogue of the screen play made the 5 f i l m "a lo t less interest ing than i t has any r ight to be." Canby did catch however, the necessity of the f r ighteningly r e a l i s t i c adventure story as the basis fo r a s u r r e a l i s t i c moral fab le , and as- such, praises Boorman's sense of the schematic, the a l l e g o r i c a l , ex is t ing side by side with the absolute sensuous immediacy of authent ic i ty . For Stephen Farber (New York Times, August 19, 1972) "Deliverance" was "the most stunning piece of movie-making released t h i s year." Faber too, praised Boorman's a b i l i t y to pu l l an abstract s u r r e a l i s t i c dream-like qual i ty to the f i l m from a story grounded s o l i d l y in dynamic real ism. Farber's understanding of Ed's f i n a l " to ta l desolation" that is the f r u i t of his journey past the confines of his own manhood, confirms the irony that undercuts the certa inty of the adventure. Farber f e l t that Burt Reynolds own projected smugness was u t i l i z e d well by Boorman in depicting Lewis as "a sardonic comment against the sportsman myst ic ."^ C r i t i c John Simon is eas i ly the harshest of those who reviewed the f i l m . 7 Simon f e l t the f i l m f a i l e d because the characters were miscast; Reynolds being v i r i l e but shallow; John Voight, too unthreatened; and Ned Beatty, too comic. More, Simon believed Boorman strayed too fa r from the novel's deeper sexual intentions by t o t a l l y el iminating the prelude and a f ter piece. For Simon, to miss the v i t a l passage of the novel in which the t i t l e word appears is fo r him, inexcusable. At the end of the novel, 138 Ed i s not merely ly ing with his wife (as in the f i l m ) , he is sodomizing her, remembering the fashion model's golden i r i s that he encountered in the prelude. In the centre of Martha's heaving and expertly working back, the gold eye shone, not with the p r a c t i c a l i t y of sex, so necessary to i t s su rv i va l , but the promise of i t that promised other th ings, another l i f e , deliverance. 8 For Simon " th is conjugal buggery connects with the brutal sodomizing of Bobby . . . emphasizing the nature of sexual re lat ions real or implied, between men and women, men and men, and men and ideal ized figments of 9 t h e i r imagination." These are serious charges. Yet, I think Boorman cannot be faulted for what he did not show. He does not le t Ed k i l l with impunity, an i n f e r i o r human being, and hence ascend to manhood as he does in the novel. Ed k i l l s someone who apart from some cu l tu ra l d i f ferences, i s as incommunicative as himself. If Boorman shied away from the sexual implications that c lea r l y dominates Dickey's novel, he did so I believe to move his quest beyond mortal transcendence through sex. Far from impoverishing the f i l m , in restra in ing the overt sexual episodes by u t i l i z i n g those images of h i l l b i l l y incest , Bobby's comic sexual d i a t r i b e , and the a l l important rape scene, he has I would argue enhanced Dickey's novel in that i t points to a quest that is rooted more deeply in place, in custom, and in act ion . The Freudian elements are c l e a r l y evident in Boorman's "Deliverance," yet I would submit, Boorman connects them more to equally demanding soc ia l elements of his r e l i g i o s i t y . The rape in the wood, l i k e E la ine 's sexual encounter with Arthur i s about men who submerge autonomy for a sexual ideal ism. The real knowledge of 139 s e l f , i s , in Boorman's f i l m as i t is in the Gra i l myth, bound up with, , the ro le sexual i ty has upon the de f in i t i on of character. That Ed learns of his sexual and v io lent nature does not free him. The wilderness does not provide renewal as in the American mythic understanding; nor does i t provide an epiphanic experience as in the Arthurian romance. For Boorman, the enchanting forest remains a place of nightmare. The cost of knowledge Boorman t e l l s us, has never been as great. 140 CHAPTER NINE: "ZARDOZ" (1973) Caught in the land of Oz, Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodsman, and Cowardly Lion, have sought and melted down the wicked Witch of the West. They have done so for various reasons: the Great Oz promised Cowardly Lion courage; a heart for Tin Woodsman; brains for Scarecrow, and most important of a l l . . . a return to r e a l i t y and Kansas for Dorothy Gale. The four return to Emerald City and the Throne Room of the Great Oz to receive t h e i r promises, only to discover that Oz is not a wizard at a l l , but a l i t t l e old man with a bald head and wrinkled face. "But I don't understand" said Dorothy in bewilderment, "how was i t you appeared to me as a Great Head?" "That was one of my t r i c k s " answered Oz. "Step th i s way, and I w i l l t e l l you a l l about i t . " 1 The four fo l low the old gent to an anteroom off the great chamber, only to discover that the Great Head was l i t t l e more than a paper-mache mask. J . Frank Baum's ch i ld ren 's c l a s s i c The Wizard of Oz is one major genesis of John Boorman's "Zardoz" (1973). Not only is the t i t l e of the f i l m a contraction of Baum's novel (The Wizard of Oz = "Zardoz"), i t plays a s ign i f i can t part in Boorman's treatment and s ty le of his narrat ive. Thematically, i t sets Dorothy's quest from innocence to knowledge i t s the future; and in so doing, transforms her into Zed (Sean Connery), a twenty-t h i r d century macho murderer who is programmed into a b r u t a l i t y that has i t s roots set f i rmly in our contemporary sexual revolut ion. 141 The f i l m is a f lop . . . yet I would argue, i t i s a r e a l l y interest ing f l o p . Sc ience - f i c t ion fans stayed away in such droves that i t was soon withdrawn. It was a low budget o r ig ina l e f fo r t by Boorman (writer , 2 producer, d i rector ) that cost one - f i f t h of i t s o r ig ina l estimate. Its low budget revealed i t s e l f in poorly crafted e f fec ts , espec ia l l y a f ter "2001: A Space Odyssey" made s ix years e a r l i e r . Sc ience - f i c t i on f i l m buffs had become used to more. Its amalgam of Arthurian Legend,.chi ldren's fantasy, and soc ia l commentary on the technological and sexual mores of contemporary cu l ture , made i t overwritten, pretentious, and confusing. And yet "Zardoz" is such an interest ing fai lure 'because i t reveals so read i l y , so many s t a r t l i n g elements that are basic to Boorman's aesthetic and moral view. It should be viewed perhaps as a f i r s t , an experimental f i l m , made strangely in mid-career. Its best c r i t i c a l analogue is perhaps George Lucas' "THX1138" (1971). This f i l m was the f i r s t production feature of Francis Ford Coppola's newly formed American Zoetrope, and i t was a remake of a short subject f'THX 22384EB") Lucas made as a f i l m student in southern C a l i f o r n i a . "THX1138" and "Zardoz" were both fa i l u res? yet both provided each d i rector with c learer v is ions of future pro jects . Lucas 1 "THX1138" overlapping and computer-generated sound track would reveal i t s e l f again in "Star Wars". (1977), while Boorman's preoccupation with the Gra i l legend, would f i n a l l y gain a f u l l e r expression in "Excalibur" (1981). Sc ience - f i c t ion cinema is a d i f f i c u l t media to work i n , in that so much of i t s success l i e s in an audience accepting those elements of the fan tas t ic with a w i l l i n g suspension of judgement. For example, the 142 homicidal plants in "The Dayof the T r i f f i d s " (1963), must look l e t h a l , and be bel ievable in the stuf f of the story. In s c i e n c e - f i c t i o n cinema, one is competing d i r e c t l y with the imagination: The d is tor t ions of time, people, places, and other al iens of the fantast ic that i s accomplished so readi ly in one's imagination, must in e f fec t , be duplicated on the screen. When elements of magic and myth are a l l i e d to science f i c t i o n as in Boorman's "Zardoz," the problem of b e l i e v a b i l i t y i s compounded. Not only must the protagonists ex is t within an acceptable f u t u r i s t i c m i l i e u , they must be seen as archetypes that echo themes readi ly understood in modern cu l ture . "Zardoz" suffers from too many ideas, operating on too many leve ls . In choosing to deal with the magic and mystical elements of myth, Boorman must f ind a cinematic representation of these darker aspects of our c o l l e c t i v e conscious such that they also embody a logic within the narrat ive . Boorman's f a i l u r e in "Zardoz" i s due in part to his desire to sermonize rather than to simply t e l l a story. "Zardoz" doesn't work because i t f a i l s to express in adequate cinematic terms, the magic inherent in real myth. Boorman in u t i l i z i n g the Great Head from the Wizard of Oz as an expression of Zardoz, has chosen unfortunately a device that lacks the sophist icat ion demanded by the narrat ive . Zardoz, the great god-head of the Eternals (a future race of s u p e r - i n t e l l e c t u a l s ) , appears as a tacky device in the story. It doesn't serve Boorman well for what he wants to say because i t is an essent ia l l y cheap cinematic device. As such i t reduces the s c i e n t i f i c magic of t h i s f u t u r i s t t a le to r i d i c u l e . The story is set in the year 2293. Some cataclysm has destroyed 143 the world as we know i t and l e f t the landscape poisoned. Those who survived have formed into small pr imit ive bands that roam the country-side and p i l l a g e whatever they can. One small group, by se lect ive and control led breeding, have formed an oasis not unlike the environment of the Alphas in Brave New World. In time t h i s group has created for them-selves a place ca l led the Vortex, a haven of i n t e l l e c t u a l domination. Those in the Vortex have discovered the secret of eternal l i f e . They have too, created the Tabernacle, a super computer providing them with t o t a l information (memory scans of t he i r enemies), and control of t h e i r environment. One of the Eternals, Arthur Frayn has seen the roaming pr imi t ive bands as a threat to l i f e in the Vortex, and so he devises Zardoz, the great god-head f igure . Like Oz, Zardoz commands one group of pr imit ives against another through a quas i - re l ig ious domination. Hence as in the Arthurian romances before the search for the G r a i l , the knights errant have lost t h e i r keen edge of chivalry by endless rounds of empty r i t u a l s . The occasions for the tournaments are without the s p i r i t u a l i t y that should be behind them. A l l i s not well in the Vortex. The Eternals, members of the inner sanction of s c i e n t i s t s and i n te l l ec tua l s are largely women who by sub-l iminat ing sex, control t h e i r oasis with a bitchiness and a paranoia that i s testimony to t h e i r repressed l i b i d o . Others in the Vortex are the Apathetics who f ind immortality too much. The Apathetics wait eterna l ly in f rus t ra t ion for a death that does not come. S t i l l others, the Renegades would overthrow the Eternals, but they are few in numbers, and can't seem to get i t together. The Renegade leaders of such insur -rections when captured by the Eternals are instant ly aged by the women 144 cont ro l le rs into an innocuous and s t a t i c s e n i l i t y . Outside the Vortex is the Outlands, one group of pr imit ives .. . the Bruta ls , have been programmed to supply grain to the Vortex. The Brutals have bred l i k e rabbi ts . Their excess are hunted down and k i l l e d by the Exterminators, a physical ly superior Outland band who ef fect the Eternal 's population control with a vehemence and elan that quickens the blood of t h e i r i n t e l l e c t u a l guardians. Boorman's "Zardoz" brings together these two well worn idea ls . Passion, energy, and r i sk . . . meets cel ibacy, i n e r t i a , and complacency. Sexual pr imit iv ism meets the technological e f fe te . Such a world view is common to Boorman's work. It i s central to "Deliverance" (1972), and "Point Blank" (1976). The mountain men in "Deliverance" become perverse when t h e i r t e r r i t o r y i s ob l i terated by urban technology. In "Point Blank," the organization has become decadent and i t provides for Walker a means to penetrate i t . As in the Gra i l myth, sexual i ty causes a breach in at tent ion . What is p a r t i c u l a r l y . ' s t a r t l i n g in "Zardoz" i s the nature of t h i s ultra-conservatism. Not only has Boorman revived the woman as wicked enchantress as in the Arthurian romance, he has a l l i e d th i s domination with i n t e l l e c t u a l s t e r i l i t y . In "Zardoz" re lat ionships have ceased to e x i s t . The Eternals l i v e in a state of enforced lovelessness, ever yearning for love, every gazing bleakly into a barren future. The women master cont ro l le rs are suspect and af ra id of men. Like Guinevere's cold treatment of her rescuer in Lancelot, Boorman's women in "Zardoz" are depicted as being a t t rac t i ve yet repulsive beings. In one episode, Avalow (Sal ly Anne Newton) i s revealed standing at the 145 centre of the Tabernacle, holding out at arm's length, the diamond crysta l that is the heart of Vortex's computer. Her face is dappled in l i ght and her hair radiates from her as i f taking energy from the i rHdescent c r y s t a l . Zed is present off camera, but Avalow is intent only upon the c r y s t a l . Eerie green l ight bathes the whole scene.,. She is ent ic ing , a beauti ful personi f icat ion of eternal beauty. Yet her sexual i ty i s c lea r l y focused upon the diamond. For Boorman, diamond c rys ta ls that promise power and cont ro l , have replaced the carbon diamond t r i n k e t that are a g i r l ' s best' f r i e n d . The opening episodes i l l u s t r a t e however, just how awkward the f i l m is in bringing good old fashion sexual i ty and i n t e l l e c t u a l prudery together. What begins as a f u t u r i s t i c parable of master-slave r e l a t i o n -ships, very soon degenerates into a series of i l l - f i t t i n g , one-dimensional sketches. The face of Zardoz confronts us at the outset. It moves from an establ ish ing shot high in the heavens, to a close-up before us, spewing guns on the ground before i t . And though i t acts as a bridge from one survival ethic of violence versus another l o g i c , i t s depiction c lear l y reveals Boorman's lack of understanding of the deeper psychology and power of the mask-figure. The Zardoz face is depicted as a very unfrightening blend of Blake, Magr i t te , and the mask in The Wizard of Oz. It is devoid of movement and is frozen into a blank paper-mache scowl. It works with less c r e d i b i l i t y as the monsters in early Japanese horror f i l m s . Arthur Frayn is the source, and mouthpiece of Zardoz. Frayn extol Is "I am Zardoz, . . . immortal, r ich in irony, lost in the future. 146 Merlin i s my hero, I am a puppet maker, I am invented to you, fo r you, fo r God is show business too ." The voice of Zardoz continues as medieval-l i k e warriors on horseback emerge from the fog pick up the weapons and proceed to s lay , rape and p i l l age other pr imit ives about them. "The 4 gun is good, the penis i s e v i l ; go for th and k i l l , Zardoz has spoken. With that one of the warr iors , Zed (Sean Connery) climbs into the g ra in -f i l l e d mouth of Zardoz, and is whisked away within the f l y i n g head to the land of the Vortex. There he emerges "De l i verance - l ike , " r i s i n g f i s t f i r s t from the gra in , supposedly a threatening spectre of things to come. It a l l doesn't work. Frayn's opening disclosure to us as being the source of Zardoz, depowers the story before i t begins. Is Boorman having us on in a cosmic joke of his own, t e l l i n g us God is in show-biz? The prelude i s unnecessary and contemptuous of the story Boorman is himself t ry ing to bu i l d . Zardoz's commands are wooden, clumsy,\and reduces the gun-phal l ic connection to r i d i c u l e . When Zed turns to us from within the head and shoots us point -blank, are we supposed to become involved in the k i l l i n g s ? It i s a cheap shot; and worse, i t i s poor symbolism of the pervasive violence that Boorman wants to t e l l us is in a l l men's hearts. Boorman's heavy dialogue takes away what essent ia l l y should be revealed v i sua l l y by the mask-face. The mask in cu l tu ra l r i t u a l , allows for the projection of the taboo. Masks, l i k e works of art add a dimension to our experience by exposing those ideologies that are kept suppressed in our cu l ture . For example, conspicuous consumption is a fact basic 147 to western indust r ia l i zed society . Advertising uses the "mask" of success (Twiggy, Cheryl Tiegs) , to motivate people toward that consumer ideology. Most importantly, the mask allows for the pro ject ion , and hence the exorcism, of the repressed needs of a cu l ture . Therefore when for example a Haida warrior "dances" r i t u a l i s t i c a l l y wearing the "head" of "Raven," he is not just aff irming through mime, s ty l i zed strategies fo r encompassing man's animus in nature; he is al luding to the horror that such animus is grounded in sexual i ty . Masks, l i k e myth carry high powered, a l l e g o r i c a l , meanings. Boorman's mask-face of Zardoz has neither re l ig ious stature, or symbolic power. It i s instead a deus-ex-machina device whose context i s neither c l e a r l y establ ished, or whose force s u f f i c i e n t l y revealed. As the f i l m opens, moments before Zardoz speaks and ruins everything, we get a shot of the south-coast of Ireland. Bathed in fog and early morning l i g h t , Geoffrey Unsworth, the photographer ("Cabaret," "2001"), pu l l s back up the coast to reveal strange Easter I s land - l i ke heads gazing implacably out to sea. lf_, at t h i s point Boorman had the Exterminators make a s a c r i f i c e , or hold a ceremony half hidden in the morning mist among these si lhouetted ru ins , then a c learer l ink to the real power of the mask would have been made. Once inside the Vortex, hormones begin f lowing. As Pauline Kael has 5 written Sean Connery as Zed "looks l i k e Burt Reynolds in a l o i n c l o t h . " He seems to be always on the verge of bursting out in laughter. That's ok, because what he sees is laughable anyway. A br ight ly colored blue house hides shy M i l l e r ' s daughters. An upstairs laboratory conceals a 148 s c i e n c e - f a i r d isplay of man's evolut ion. Skeletons and diagrams are everywhere half-hidden by cob-webs. More, spindly-legged old men sleep in a suspended animation from cocoons of saranwrap. Greenhouse plants sigh e r o t i c a l l y when touched. Strange voices emanate from a box that compel Zed to approach. Suddenly Zed is projected into the heart of Vortex Four, a computer that mirrors his mind on a screen before us. Suddenly revealing Zed in the middle of his own replay, Boorman pu l ls back to include a c i r c l e of Vortex lad ies , who are more intent on ogling t h i s f i ne physical specimen of a man, than they are watching the computer v isual display of Zed's past and future. The maze of mirrors that i s the Tabernacle, heart of the Vortex is rea l l y a sublimated glass womb in which the barren women can perceive, i f not f e e l , the ef fects of l i f e w i th in . It as close to motherhood that Boorman wishes to come and, in keeping with the moral of his t a l e , i t i s a very coo l , surrogate, mother-hood. The ladies watch Zed's past and future l i f e on the mult ip le computer screens before them, as a mother watches and wishes for her c h i l d . Yet there is no suckl ing , car ing , or simply a longing to be with t h i s child-man. It i s in the reactions of May (Sara Kestelmon), and Consuella (Charlotte Rampling), towards Zed that provides us with Boorman's most sexist view of women as managers. May, the genet ic i s t , wishes to hold Zed captive for further study. Consuella, high Pr iestess of the Vortex, only wants him dead. Both express a way of dealing with a dormant l i b i d o . May and Consuella can be likened to the two s i s te rs of Castle Peri lous in the Gra i l myth. Lady Lyonesse l i k e Consuella is generously passionate. Linnet, Lyonesse's s i s t e r l i k e May is ca lcu la t ing and 149 possesses eerie magical power. In the Vortex, Boorman explores his v is ion of l i f e in an i n t e l l e c t u a l technocracy. This v is ion marks him as a reactionary. For a l l of i t s cognit ive power, l i f e in the Vortex i s depicted as essent ia l l y barren. The barren female contro l lers who run the Tabernacle are echoed in the l i ves of the Eternals, who l i v e without imagination, without organization, and without hope. One sequence in par t icu la r captures the elements of the surreal that Boorman w i l l use to undercut the mi l ieu of logic that prevai ls in the Vortex. George Seadon (Bosco Hogon), one of the Renegades who has befriended Zed and led him to the Merl in f igure Arthur Frayn (N ia l l Buggy), has been accused of "psychic violence" by the upper echelons of the Vortex. While he is being brain scanned by the Tabernacle computer, he portends to Zed that l i f e in the Vortex is not what i t appears. In consequence of his publ ic c r i t i q u e , the women contro l le rs age Seadon f i v e years; and, in so doing set Zed upon a quest to seek the truth about the Vortex. Suddenly, Boorman cuts us to a s l i c e of l i f e amidst a Renegade camp, and we see a la F e l l i n i ' s "Satyr icon," the aged and mutilated censors in an environment that is a surreal mix of carnival and old fo lks home. For Boorman, the separation of w i l l from potential creates a bizarre world s e l f - c a n c e l l a t i o n . At the heart of the Vortex, absurdity abounds. We see within the carn iva l sequence, a young g i r l walking l i s t l e s s l y amidst the throng passing out bread. She echoes the r i t u a l i s t i c breaking of bread ceremony that occurs at the Vortex dining tab le . She, as they, has forgotten the 150 Chr ist ian or ig ins of the r i t u a l . Clowns become grotesque in the i r i n a c t i v i t y . A Renegade is attempting a rape of an Apathetic. Achieving neither response or g r a t i f i c a t i o n , i t is the perfect image of human action that has become divorced from f e e l i n g . A l l straggle about as i f we have suddenly come upon a common room within a mental hosp i ta l . The Renegade camp is Boorman's image of decadence in the extreme. It is quite l i t e r a l l y an extension of l i f e in the Vortex. The Vortex is about domineering women and t im id , p l i a b l e , men. It i s the party sequence from "Leo the Last" pushed into the future. Boorman :reveals in t h i s sequence a surreal dream-like c o l l e c t i v e i n e r t i a . Group action has no group e f fect other than revealing a grotesque absurdity. Seadon's plea during his t r i a l that the Tabernacle reconstructed him with defects points to Zed's mission to determine the source of Vortex's power. Seadon pleads, "I was imperfectly repaired . . . these things leak out of my head wound of my th i rd l i f e . " Such comments become for Boorman, the way to imbue his world of logic with a l i t t l e craz iness. That craziness i s soon extended into the surreal world of the Merlinesque Arthur Frayn. Boorman's Arthur Frayn i s c lea r l y out of the Gra i l legend. The Merlin of the Arthurian cycle i s a famous magician, prominent in Arthur's court. In the Gra i l legend, Merlin i s thrown into a death - l ike trance and enclosed forever in an oak-tree by a mistress V iv ian , through a spe l l he, himself, taught her. Boorman's Frayn i s , too, a magician. He was instrumental in creating the Vortex, and he, l i k e Seadon, is only too aware of i t s shortcomings. Frayn alone had taught the women of the 151 Vortex how to use the Tabernacle computer. Yet Frayn has, by the very imper fectabi l i ty of that same computer, become a l i t t l e f l a k y . Like Mer l in , Boorman makes Frayn an eccentr ic , frozen into a character that is both quixot ic and b izarre . Boorman bedecks him with painted beard and resplendent pantomime clothes. Frayn, l i k e Merlin i s forever r e s t -l ess . He befriends Zed (Frayn = f r iend) as Merlin does Arthur, and reveals to him the deficiency of l i f e in the Vortex. Boorman makes Frayn, Zed's a l t e r ego. He is as Rosco in "Leo the Last . " Frayn transfers to Zed the requirements of that which is denied in him by v i r tue of his e c c e n t r i c i t y . The women of the Vortex, l i k e Vivian of the Gra i l legend, have imprisoned Frayn, M e r l i n - l i k e , into the body of an innocuous ef fete old man. Frayn's wisdom l i k e that of Mer l in , has backf i red. Boorman t e l l s us the Vortex women are interested only in a world of order, not in a world of freedom. Boorman is at best here. Surreal images abound. From the musty disused l ib ra ry in which-strange hooded f igures cavort and hide, Frayn reveals to Zed the Wizard of Oz as source for Zardoz, the god-head. We explore Frayn's room, replete with a Rene Magritte painting of the "Painted P laster Mask" (1935). Zed the innocent must break the hold of the Tabernacle computer over these people. The juxtaposi t ion of the two worlds of decadent lethargy and i n t e l l e c t u a l imperialism, i s accomplished by Boorman's use of the sur rea l . An incongruous party of Eternals, renegades reduced to Edwardian gentry, complete with a l i v e l y dance band to which none respond, soon dissolves 152 into images of May in the Tabernacle brain room. The Tabernacle brain room is l i k e a people be l l j a r inverted in a large aquarium. Through the glass we see bodies of Eternals in fo r analysis or repai r , f l o a t about in profusion. They are suspended amoeba-like amidst strange party streamers . . . umbil ical cords of Eternals' past and future. The scene is a further echo of the challenging Magritte head revealed in Frayn's room. The sense of wonder i s heightened by the d i s to r t i on affected by shapes seen through glass. . In the brain room Boorman creates a huge gulf between the conventional ro le of science, as an ideology that frees man through knowledge and makes i t , in i t s stead, a means of technocratic domination. Boorman's most successful s u r r e a l i s t sequence in the f i l m occurs when Zed becomes involved in a struggle with the source of a l l knowledge, the Tabernacle c r y s t a l . Zed, in his search for the t ruth of the Vortex, has been energized at once by Frayn, the computer i t s e l f , and by the women con t ro l l e r s . He grows in consciousness as they grow i h . f e e l i n g . In a l ight-show epiphany with Zed ly ing prone on the Tabernacle receiving s lab, Boorman t r i e s to unify the bond between the animal and the i n t e l l e c t u a l in man. It is a scene reminiscent of Magr i t te 's "Objective Stimulation" (1939). Boorman refers us to Zed on the table and Zed is revealed in agony in his past, present, and future. He absorbs a l l the knowledge of the world. Boorman is t ry ing here to capture the inside^ outside p r inc ip le as depicted by the a r t i s t s Max Ernst ("Revolution by Night," 1932), or Giorgio de Chir ico ("The Ch i ld ' s Bra in , " 1914); function has l e f t the realm of revelat ion beyond words. In t h i s s u r r e a l i s t i c 153 c r i s i s , Boorman gives us only the v isual experience of the shock of t h i s transformation. V isua l ly i t i s exc i t ing cinema. Boorman then has ca l led up aspects of a re l ig ious and mythic past and wedded these elements into a science f i c t i o n adventure that responds better to a surreal gestal t than to our demands of a f i l m narrat ive. The surreal sequences are among Boorman's best, but they f a i l to form a narrat ive with appropriate movement. "Zardoz," i s less of a f i l m narrat ive then i t i s a c u b i s t - f u t u r i s t version of "Intolerance." It as not" just that Boorman's four elements (women, technology, barbarism, and in te l l igence) do not merge, they do ; i t is just the touchpoints become an end in themselves. Effects and g l i t t e r replaces the narrat ive. What began: in Boorman as a consciousness of philosophy and theology not unl ike that of Coleridge's "construction imagination, 1" turned mid - f i lm, into a s u r r e a l i s t preoccupation with the p l a s t i c and spat ia l p o s s i b i l i t i e s of form. The ending, as the beginning is contr ived. Zed being " ins ide and outside" himself in the Tabernacle has f i n a l l y gained complete knowledge. He sees through his quest the flaw of imperfection in the Tabernacle c r y s t a l , and shoots at i t as he did at us in the opening. Of course, everything col lapses. Zed's mirrored se l f "dies" as do f i n a l l y , the grateful Eternals. May, the manipulator genet ic i s t , coldest female of them a l l , i s hugged then k i l l e d , as Zed and the less rigorous Consuella run off l i k e Dorothy's return to Kansas to make babies and begin the race anew. The Brutals break into the Vortex and rape and plunder as before. And, as the sun sets on the ashes of t h e i r parents, we see Zed and Consuella's progeny growing up in a wonderful unambiguous, new world of 154 an t i - i i n te l l ec tua l ism and violence. What is wrong with "Zardoz" besides the s c r i p t , i s that i t i s a f i l m largely without charm. The enchantment of The Wizard of Oz l i e s in the innocence and del ight of i t s characters. Zed is l i t t l e more than a mute "tough" whose understanding stops at the end of a gun bar re l . Even Zed's confrontations with the computer:'.in the Tabernacle h a l l of mirrors is wholly predictable . Consuella's ro le as leader of the Vortex is i l l -defined. Though ult imately responsible fo r May's program of repopulation, Consuella wanders about, Falcon upon her shoulder, obvious in her sexual i ty as Marilyn Munroe. The Vortex: is ; a l e f t - ove r s i x t i e s version of a commune. Boorman's use of the commune ideal backfires on him. Unlike Oz, the Vortex is unal lur ing . As the sett ing for myth, i t i s largely without magic. It would have been better had Boorman not strayed so fa r from his o r ig ina l idea. In an interview in "Sight and Sound" (winter, 1974) Boorman reveals to s c i e n c e - f i c t i o n wr i ter P h i l i p St r ick that "Zardoz" began wholly outside that genre. Zed was o r i g i n a l l y , a univers i ty professor who .having become interested in one of his female students, begins a long:search.for her throughout the Ca l i f o rn ia communes where she l i v e d . However, Boorman f e l t the communes of the late s i x t i e s could not carry the weight of his ideology about women's l i be ra t ion and computer technology, so he pushed the t a l e further and further into the future. Yet his creation of the Vortex as a commune a la 2293 A.D. leads him only to obscure the real thrust of his t a l e in camp techniques. Through the Vortex, Boorman himself has become a marionette of his own cinema technology. 1 "Zardoz" f a i l s as a narrat ive because i t reduces myth to c l i c h e . It is a somewhat f r ightening reduct ionist t a le that poses no future fo r man except as aggressor. Zed's knowledge of the s t e r i l i t y of a wholly conditioned l i f e , results in his chi ldren witnessing an equally closed world of plunder and violence. Boorman's preoccupation with archetypal themes is admirable, but in "Zardoz" such a preoccupation reveals a basic uncertainty in character izat ion and narrat ive structure. Dramatic tension, tragedy, and catharsis i s the stuf f of myth, i t s revelat ion is through character. Remove the dazzle of one or two moments from "Zardoz, 1 and you have a f i l m top-heavy in p r e d i c t a b i l i t y . The most revealing and most f r ightening element in "Zardoz" however, i s the revelat ion of Boorman's v is ion of l i f e . It i s a l i t t l e d i f f i c u l t to get at in "Zardoz" becauseone is never quite sure whether he is taking himself ser ious ly , or i f indeed he created a parody that mocks i t s e l f . The ever-smil ing Sean Connery, and his a c t i v i t y among the Aged Renegades, creates a bizarre blend of violence and comedy. What should be ominous and s i n i s t e r fo r us, is treated e x p r e s s i o n i s t i c a l l y , undercutting our brooding with humour. The root of "Zardoz" then l i e s in Boorman's preoccupation with the Gra i l legend. If Boorman is excited by the p o s s i b i l i t i e s the legend reveals , i t i s I would submit, an excitement born of the reactionary. Knowledge in the Gra i l legend implies a loss . The discovery of the s e l f , as in Arthur acting without Excalibur forces the death of mysticism and magic. In "Zardoz," man retreats from knowledge.. Mysticism and violence i t seems is better fo r Boorman than logic and order. Boorman's 156 future world excludes the p o s s i b i l i t y that violence is curative is l o s t . In "Zardoz," Boorman reveals an ethic akin to "Deliverance." Sexual perversion, in t h i s instance repression, surfaces in an e l e c t r i c voyeurism that allows women to control the world with a quas i - re l ig ious endorsement. The ro le of the male i s e i ther as Arthur Frayn, the Mer l in -l i k e magician who creates the symbol of the Vortex's power, and who i s i ne f fec tua l ; or Zed, the machismo thug who displaces magic and authority with violence and machismo s e l f - s a t i s f a c t i o n . As in the seminal Gra i l legend, May and Avalow, the Vortex cont ro l le rs Gra i l guardians, must remain v i r g i n a l . They are symbolic of the vessels of a l l knowledge. Others who lack t h i s "purity" of understanding are f a i r game. Consuella, having no • ' ' intel lectual capacity, functions in the f i l m as the r i g h t f u l woman to bear Zed's progeny. Brainy women s o i l the Gra i l quest: In the ch r i s t i an version, the seeker of t h e ' G r a i l had to be sexually pure. Boorman extends th i s metaphor in "Zardoz" by making women with knowledge and power, c l e a r l y off l i m i t s . Innocence in "Zardoz" is not a state of grace achieved through knowledge, i t i s a level of functioning that must deny the power of mind. Sexuality i s a threat to be avoided where i t , and power, merge. Boorman's interpretat ion of the Gra i l legend as i t appears in "Zardoz" i s reactionary and f r i g h t f u l . Yet i t i s true to s p i r i t eschewed by the Gra i l quest. Women where they inter fere with the quest as Chris in "Point Blank," or Dinah in "Having a Wild Weekend," must be displaced. This displacement however in "Zardoz" i s not rendered with any complexity or depth. Zed, to May and Avalow, i s a cu r ios i t y f igure to be examined 157 then k i l l e d . May and Avalow are depicted simply as c l a s s i c "bosses" who must be commensurately treated with male contempt. As such Boorman does not t ry to get beyond the constraints of the quest, and to develop re lat ionships between men and women who suffer ontological te r ro r . He i s s a t i s f i e d with the stereotypical depiction of women as bosses who must oppose the quest by v i r tue of t h e i r very i n te l l i gence . Boorman's v is ion of the world then in "Zardoz" must be faulted on many leve ls . F i r s t l y , we are unsure i f his f i l m is not a spoof . . . i t ' s just too tacky for him to take a l l ser ious ly . Secondly, as a cautionary t a l e about technological impotence, i t lacks development. The questing hero lacks character. As a s c i e n c e - f i c t i o n f i l m , i t has no charm. "Zardoz" however does work in some isolated moments, such as the Eternals party sequence, the v i s i t to Frayn's room, and Zed spread-eagle in the Vortex Tabernacle. Here Boorman's depiction of the surreal is as t h r i l l i n g as i t i s in s imi la r sequences in "Leo the Last" or in "Point Blank." Yet, the cinematic control exerted within these moments does not make a successful f i l m narrat ive. "Zardoz" lacks the humour of Leo, and the tightness and grim resolut ion of Walker ( in "Point Blank") . The magic Boorman t r i e d to summon up in "Zardoz" just could not be done for one m i l l i o n d o l l a r s . The batt le Boorman wages against women in "Zardoz" reveals an ethic that i s out of keeping with his se t t i ng . The psychology that t h i s renders within 'Boorman suggests a Freudian darkness he has not f u l l y explored. He ventures very gingerly into that new ground within his next f i l m , "Exorcist I I . " 158 CHAPTER TEN: "EXORCIST II" : THE HERETIC Central to the theme of "Exorcist II" i s a c lear conc i l ia to ry at t i tude toward the two polarized worlds of science and pr imit iv ism that made "Zardoz" so harsh and unforgiving. In "Exorcist I I , " Boorman grows thematical ly . I n i t i a l l y conceived as a sequel to Will iam Fr iedkin 's "The Exorc is t , " (1973), Boorman was given almost complete production 1 cont ro l . He chose not to f u l f i l the expectations generated by Fr iedkin 's o r ig ina l f i l m . As a resu l t "Exorcist II" was a bust. Re-edited in order to save a disasterous box-of f ice showing, "Exorcist II" lost f i f t e e n 2 minutes. It was soon withdrawn. Fai lure at the box-of f ice did reveal to Boorman that patrons f e l t cheated in his sequel. It did not mean however, that the f i l m i t s e l f was beneath c r i t i c a l judgement. The success of "Exorcist II" has l i t t l e to do with i t s predecessor, though many f e l t strongly that t h i s was indeed so. "Exorcist II" i s a contemporary rendering of the quest.that owes i t s power not from the s p i r i t u a l impetus of the protagonist, but from those transformations of se l f various characters in the f i l m undergo. These transformations and t h e i r attendant context gives "Exorcist II" a special kind of magic that i s wholly d i f fe rent than'the blood, gore, and torture of t h e o r i g i n a l "The Exorc is t . " In d i f fus ing the blatant violence of the o r ig ina l f i l m , Boorman's "Exorcist II" becomes a l i v e l y , penetrating, study of the trauma involved in a s p i r i t u a l r eb i r th . In "Exorcist I I , " Boorman suggests that the o r ig ina l exorcism of 159 Regan MacNeil ("The E x o r c i s t " ) didn't work. More, Boorman claims at the outset that Father Merrin's death was a waste. In consequence what Boorman does i s to set about f r e e i n g Regan from her tr o u b l e d s o u l . In the process, he brings h i s protagonist Father Merrin, back to l i f e . It i s i n t e r e s t i n g t o note that in t h i s sequel, Father Lamont who turns h i s back on h i s Ca t h o l i c i s m , i s not the only h e r e t i c ; Boorman makes us d i s -b e l i e v e r s i n the o r i g i n a l . The n a r r a t i v e plays out i t s own cosmic joke upon us, and Boorman loves i t . What makes t h i s f i l m r e a l l y work i s i t s own irreverence ... i t s humour. " E x o r c i s t I I " does not take i t s e l f so s e r i o u s l y as did "Zardoz," and because of t h i s i t i s a much more mature statement. "Zardoz" was unbearable with i t s pretentious and heavy dialogue. Only the s u r r e a l sequences saves: us from i t s complete lack of charm. " E x o r c i s t I I " i s l i t e r a l l y peppered with humour ... from the "e y s i e s " Father Lamont and Jean Tuskin the p s y c h i a t r i s t , play with each other, to Ecumenical Edwards, who hustles r e l i g i o u s icons the length and breadth of E t h i o p i a . Boorman has i n " E x o r c i s t I I , " found t h a t since the p a t h e t i c element in l i f e cannot be exorcized completely, i t can be made bearable by accompanying i t with irony. His use of irony i s important i n that i s undercuts the s i n i s t e r v i o l e n c e that lurks within the very idea of someone or something "possessing" another. Boorman's f i l m u n l i k e F r i e d k i n ' s does not c a p i t a l i z e on t h i s darker element. Instead i t smiles at us with moments::of mockery, and i r r e v e r e n c e . Moreover, i t i s a f i l m f u l l of compassion. The other element that makes " E x o r c i s t I I " a success i s Boorman's continuing preoccupation with s p e c i a l e f f e c t s . Here, as in "Zardoz" and 160 "Point Blank," Boorman u t i l i z e s such f a v o u r i t e s t y l i s t i c s as the use of m i r r o r s , a c o l l a g e of varying forms of l i g h t , a m u l t i - l a y e r e d sound t r a c k , c r o s s - c u t t i n g and f l a s h b a c k . The r e s u l t i s a n a r r a t i v e with a c i r c u l a r r a t h e r than a l i n e a r s t r u c t u r e . The issue t h a t the most s e r i o u s c r i t i c s (Richard Combs, Vincent Canby) 4 r a i s e d , i s whether these e f f e c t s are j u s t i f i e d i n terms of the n a r r a t i v e i t s e l f . Because of i t s c l o s e t i e s t o "The E x o r c i s t " (1973), what we le a r n from Boorman's f i l m i s much more than the knowledge gained by Boorman's p r o t a g o n i s t . Our memory of Regan's o r i g i n a l possession in "The E x o r c i s t " c a l l s up her i n t e r a c t i o n with Father Merrin. This muddies our under-standing of Boorman's Father Lamont. Moreover,-we reach past the immediate n a r r a t i v e t o f i n d touchpoints i n our own e t h i c s . Father Lamont's l o s s of f a i t h and h i s subsequent journey i n t o the pagan r i t u a l s of mysticism, becomes our journey. His use of s c i e n c e , r a t h e r than formal r e l i g i o n , t o enter t h i s world becomes a p o s i t i o n we must simply accept at the out-set of the s t o r y . I f one cannot accept Boorman's "hypnotic mind synch-r o n i z e r , " one must r e j e c t a l s o the o n t o l o g i c a l dilemma t h a t Boorman t r i e s t o r e v e a l through h i s main character... I t ' s a p i t y i n " E x o r c i s t I I " t h a t so much of the f i l m ' s understanding f a l l s upon the use of " s c i e n c e -f i c t i o n " s p e c i a l e f f e c t s , because i t b l u r s an understanding of a c h a r a c t e r type t h a t i s an e s s e n t i a l f e a t u r e of Boorman's cinematic v i s i o n . What Boorman: has done i n " E x o r c i s t I I " i s t o combine the godly, the ungodly, and the absurd, i n t o an a e s t h e t i c . U n f o r t u n a t e l y , by the end of the f i l m we are u n c e r t a i n as to who has gained the most ... Boorman's p r o t a g o n i s t Father Lamont, o u r s e l v e s , or the camera i t s e l f . 161 One way to interpret "Exorcist II" such that we do centre upon the character of Father Lamont, i s to see the f i l m not as yet another f a i l e d s c i e n c e - f i c t i o n drama or as a d i luted sequel, but to see i t as an assumed- ident i ty f i l m . The Gra i l myth is replete with Mer l in 's magic in which he transforms characters into other i d e n t i t i e s . Uther i s transformed into Gor lo is , Elaine into Guinevere, Morgause into Morgana. Merlin e f fects these--transformations in order to play a part in the l i ves of those about him. Magical transformations are fo r Merl in also acts of sublimated sexua l i ty . Often those who have been changed seek vainly to f ind the source of the transformation. Such character changes then, set up changes in the narrat ive structure. These narrat ive changes become the backbone of "Exorcist I I . " They include: 1. a masquerade of one character within another that often ends in death 2. the pretender becomes a kind of outlaw, forsaken by those closest to him 3. the assumed ident i ty has connections in the Other-world 4 . the pretender becomes obsessed (possessed) by his Odyssey to f ind the source of the misperception 5. the key f igures in the deception a l l assemble in the same place at the end. 5 Normally the assumed-identity conventions operate within the larger context of the American gangster f i l m . However, Boorman has in "Exorcist II" brought about a wider use of these conventions such that a s p i r i t u a l vacuum, not greed or c r i m i n a l i t y , becomes the source fo r the masquerade. In "Exorcist I I , " Boorman attempts to infuse a personal metaphysic into Fr iedk in 's more vulgar, more basic exp lo i tat ion of v iolence. His roots 162 l i e c l o s e r t o A n t o n i o n i ' s e x i s t e n t i a l i s m and t o h i s own C a t h o l i c i s m t h a n t o F r i e d k i n ' s more h o r r i f i c negation., Boorman's F a t h e r Lamont d o e s n ' t l i t e r a l l y change p l a c e w i t h a n o t h e r c h a r a c t e r ; he changes p l a c e w i t h a n o t h e r p a r t o f h i m s e l f . The i d e a o f p o s s e s s i o n i s a f t e r a l l , o n l y a means o f t a l k i n g about t h e e s s e n t i a l s c h i z o i d dilemma o f modern man. Man i s a p a r t o f t h e w o r l d , but because o f h i s s e l f - c o n s c i o u s n e s s he i s t o o , a p a r t from i t . Boorman's F a t h e r Lamont s u f f e r s t h e q u i n t e s s e n t i a l paradox o f b e i n g - i n - t h e - w o r l d , and b e i n g -o f - t h e - w o r l d . He i s a man w i t h o u t e f f e c t , aware o f t h e h o r r o r o f c o n t i n g e n c y . Through h i s i n t e r a c t i o n w i t h Regan, he changes p l a c e s w i t h h i m s e l f . He cannot s i m p l y be a p r i e s t ; he must seek t o become p a r t o f t h e w o r l d t h r o u g h a g r e a t e r m e a n i n g f u l a c t . Only t h e n can he a c h i e v e an e s s e n c e . F o r Boorman t h e r o a d t o h o l i n e s s l i e s t h r o u g h a c t i o n ... a c t i o n n e c e s s a r i l y o u t s i d e t h e r e a l m o f dogma. " E x o r c i s t I I " b e g i n s where o b e d i e n c e ends. The f i l m opens w i t h F a t h e r Lamont ( R i c h a r d B u r t o n ) , p o w e r l e s s and a f r a i d i n a b a r r i o above Buenos A i r e s . A young S p a n i s h g i r l (Rose P o r t i l l o ) l i e s p o s s e s s e d i n a f i t o f p s y c h o s i s . Her d i s q u i e t i s echoed i n t h e r e l i g i o u s h y s t e r i a o f o l d e r women who a r e a l l a b o u t . The g i r l ' s t r a n c e - f i l l e d movement causes her t o a c c i d e n t l y knock o v e r t h e o f f e r t o r y c a n d l e s . Flames e n v e l o p her and she d i e s w h i l e Lamont, h o r r i f i e d l o o k s on. F a i t h and c o n t i n g e n c y , Lamont has seen, a r e m u t u a l l y e x c l u s i v e . Lamont i n consequence, f e e l s "unworthy" o f h i s o r d i n a t i o n . I t i s a t t h a t p o i n t he wants t o become something e l s e . 163 In an i r o n y t h a t matches t h e r e l i g i o u s e x c e s s o f t h e f l a m e s t h a t devour Rose, Boorman c u t s us t o a h e a r i n g w i t h Lamontts s u p e r i o r . C a r d i n a l J a r o s ( P a u l H e n r e i d ) , p a r a d e s pompously b e f o r e a huge r e d , gauche t a p e s t r y o f "The C r u c i f i x i o n . " The t a p e s t r y i s an a r t i s t i c f i x e d , s a f e , v e r s i o n o f t h e g i r l ' s own " p a s s i o n . " Lamont must f i n d r e a s o n t o remain i n t h e c h u r c h . J a r o s sends him deeper i n t o t h e chaos he has j u s t w i t n e s s e d by demanding he i n v e s t i g a t e t h e s t r a n g e death o f F a t h e r M e r r i n a t Regan's o r i g i n a l e x o r c i s m . Boorman's i r o n y i s c l e a r . The Church has become i n s e n s i t i v e t o s u f f e r i n g . I t has i n C a r d i n a l J a r o s , c o n f u s e d h u m i l i t y w i t h h u m i l i a t i o n , and i c o n w i t h e v e n t . Boorman o f f e r s us. a s t e r e o t y p i c a l C a t h o l i c i s m , but i t does s e r v e t o wed t h e l e f t o v e r elements: o f F r i e d k i n ' s n a r r a t i v e into :'. t h i s more p s y c h o l o g i c a l mystery. We know Lamont w i l l immerse h i m s e l f more d e e p l y i n t o t h e d e s t r u c t i v e element; and we know he w i l l do i t o u t s i d e t h e F a i t h . Boorman's e x o r c i s m will''mock i t s own r e l i g i o u s l i n e a g e . In Lamont, a p h i l i s t i n e s t a n d s o u t s i d e t h e g a t e s o f t h e t e m p l e . The o p e n i n g f i n d s Regan ( L i n d a B l a i r ) i n Washington. I t i s f o u r y e a r s s i n c e her o r i g i n a l e x o r c i s m . Regan now a t e e n a g e r i s not completed c u r e d ; she has p e r i o d i c f i t s . As t h e e p i s o d e b e g i n s Regan's r e s i d u a l p s y c h i c p r o p e r t i e s , a r e s u l t o f her o r i g i n a l p o s s e s s i o n , a r e b e i n g r e v e a l e d t o Dr. Jean T u s k i n ( L o u i s e F l e t c h e r ) , a p s y c h i a t r i s t i n a Washington i n s t i t u t e . T u s k i n has p e r f e c t e d a "mental s y n c h r o n i z e r , " an e l e c t r o n i c b i o f e e d b a c k h y p n o t i z i n g d e v i c e t h a t e n a b l e s two p e o p l e t o s y n c h r o n i z e deep b r a i n wave a c t i v i t y , and s h a r e imagery from one's u n c o n s c i o u s . The machine, i s o f c o u r s e , Boorman's updated v e r s i o n o f " Z a r d o z , " t h e god-head. And, a l t h o u g h 164 i t i s fa r more convincing . . . with i t s hypnotic f lashing white l i g h t s , and surreal e lectron ic monotone humming . . . (that moves down scale to an ominous repet i t i ve low drive ind icat ive of one unconscious being in-synch with another) . . . i t i s s t i l l , a device, a deus-ex-machina mechanism, that obtrudes above Lamont's narrative l i k e the dance sequences in a Herbert Ross musical . The sett ing Boorman provides for his "mind synchronizer" i s however, a marvel, and i t goes a long way to providing a context in which we are more l i k e l y to accept his "brain swapping" machine, and the change of ident i ty that w i l l overcome Father Lamont. The psychiat r ic c l i n i c i s a remake of the Tabernacle control room of the Vortex in "Zardoz." Every-where radiat ing out from Tuskin's o f f i c e are one-way mirrored glass cub ic les . The ef fect i s s imi la r to perceiving a scene from a multi-paned window. Each rectangle of glass frames a character caught in a pa r t icu la r psychosis. Boorman's sett ing is l i k e perceiving the world from the centre of a honeycomb. Characters wander f ree ly in a huge recreational anteroom, but they are perceived as being trapped by the separating ef fects of t h i s strangely mirrored set . Boorman i s merely extending the metaphor of entrap-ment through t h i s dazz l ing , eer ie , and evocative decor. It works. That Lamont should u t i l i z e the new "hypnotic synchronizer" as a means of freezing Regan from her par t icu la r entrapment is a l og ica l extension of the sense of closure that Boorman's environment provides. Lamont on a v i s i t to the i n s t i t u t e , witnesses a synchronizer session between Jean Tuskin and Regan, only to f ind the young psych ia t r i s t loosing control in her descent to Regan's unconscious. Lamont pu l ls Tuskin back 165 t o her own consciousness only to f i n d himself drawn to the machine t h a t can accomplish what l i t u r g y cannot. Lamont then d u p l i c a t e s Tuskin's mental adventure. In e f f e c t he becomes an i n c a r n a t i o n of h e r ' s t i l l - t r o u b l e d psyche. He i s whisked i n t o Regan's preconscious and here Boorman presents us with the f i r s t s t o r y - w i t h i n - a s t o r y . Lamont t r a v e l s ( w i t h i n Regan's mindset) t o A f r i c a where Father Merrin (Max Von Syndow) has s u c c e s s f u l l y e x o r c i s e d Kokumo (Joey Green) a young black tribesman who possesses the a b i l i t y t o ward o f f the e v i l f o r c e Bazoozoo w i t h i n h i s c u l t u r e . Bazoozoo i s manifest i n the plagues of dreaded l o c u s t s t h a t threatens the crops of Kokumo's t r i b e . Boorman has prepared us f o r Lamont's psychic A f r i c a n journey by previous images of Regan's own nightmare. For example, e a r l y i n the f i l m he r e v e a l s a sequence in which Regan i s shown f i t f u l l y s l e e p i n g i n her New York apartment. Suddenly, Reganus s e i z e d with the nightmarish images of a t r i b a l v i l l a g e in which a medicine man p r a c t i s e s h i s c r a f t over a s i c k c h i l d . Yet another image of a g i a n t l o c u s t shocks Regan i n t o momentary wakefulness, only t o be l u l l e d back i n t o the c o n t i n u i n g dream sequence i n which the cured young Kokumo saves h i s v i l l a g e from the dreaded l o c u s t plague by m a g i c a l l y beating the a i r . Why Boorman should choose t o a t t a c h Regan's psychosis t o a p r i m i t i v e c u l t i s m i s never e s t a b l i s h e d . Within the n a r r a t i v e s t r u c t u r e i t does provide a context f o r Father Merrin t o appear and t o e s t a b l i s h h i s r o l e as a s u c c e s s f u l e x o r c i s t . Yet, p r e s e n t a t i o n of e v i l as being t r i b a l and pagan, r a t h e r than C h r i s t i a n or Freudian, takes Father Lamont away from the e x i s t e n t i a l dilemma which i s at the core of the f i l m . That Lamont should 166 meet Bazoozoo, t h e D e v i l , Raven, o r Mr. Dressup, as an i n c a r n a t i o n o f e v i l , i s i m m a t e r i a l . What j_s m a t e r i a l i s not t h a t t h e s e f o r c e s s h o u l d e x i s t i n v a r i o u s forms i n t h e w o r l d , but t h a t Lamont a f a i l e d e x o r c i s t , s h o u l d seek meaning o n l y i n an a c t o f human c a r i n g . The f a c t i s t h a t Regan i s s t i l l p o s s e s s e d , and she must be f r e e d o f t h a t p o s s e s s i o n by a man who assumes an a t y p i c a l i d e n t i t y . I t i s p r e d i c t a b l e t h a t Lamont's masquerade w i l l end i n f a i l u r e . What i s e s s e n t i a l i n k e e p i n g o u r f o c u s upon Lamont's s p i r i t u a l dilemma i s t h a t h i s f a i l u r e s h o u l d not c a r r y t h e g e n e s i s o f a new myth. D a z z l i n g v i s u a l s make c o n n e c t i o n s t h a t a r e p o o r l y d e v e l o p e d i n t h e d i a l o g u e . Regan has been l u r e d from h e r bed by Lamont's i n v a s i o n w i t h i n h e r s u b c o n s c i o u s . As t h e young Kokumo waves t h e a i r i n e x o r c i s i n g Bazoozoo who appears i n t h e form o f a l o c u s t , Regan i s seen i n a somnambulist t r a n c e . She walks p e r i o u s l y c l o s e t o t h e edge o f her New York penthouse b a l c o n y . The m i r r o r e d w a l l s break up and r e f l e c t her image i n a t h o u s a n d ways. As i n t h e g l a s s d e c o r o f t h e I n s t i t u t e , t h i s i m a g e - r e p l i c a t i o n i n g l a s s i s a v e r y s u r r e a l sequence t h a t echoes t h e f r a g m e n t a t i o n o f s e l f t h a t i s her t r o u b l e d p s y c h e . In e x p e r i e n c i n g Regan's p o s s e s s i o n Lamont has been c h a r g e d w i t h a m i s s i o n . I t i s a m i s s i o n i n league w i t h a s t r a n g e m y s t i c i s m t h a t o r i g i n a l l y was k e p t d i s t a n c e d by C a t h o l i c dogma. Lamont t o o has been a r o u s e d by Jean T u s k i n ' s s e x u a l i t y . Boorman i s c a r e f u l t o u n d e r c u t any r e l i g i o u s a r d o r b e i n g a t t h e r o o t o f h i s q u e s t by r e v e a l i n g t h e s t i r r i n g s o f a more b a s i c p a s s i o n . He i s c a r e f u l t o p o r t r a y Lamont as a man, a s e x u a l b e i n g . Lamont i s not j u s t a r e l i g i o u s z e a l o t c h a r g e d w i t h s a v i n g y e t a n o t h e r 167 soul . Though his t a l k to Regan's psychic disorder with Jean, i s in Chr ist ian terms of e v i l and possession, he s t i l l casts c lea r l y intimate glances toward her. Jean Tuskin in response is a phlegmatic s c i e n t i s t , who l i k e the Vortex women in "Zardoz," doesn't effervesce with feminine ways. Lamont's s t i r r i n g s toward Jean Tuskin, I would argue, are necessary in depicting the wider malaise that promotes Lamont's odyssey. Lamont is a man in search of a meaning for his l i f e at every l e v e l . In t h i s context, Boorman's transformation of Bazoozoo as a seductive Regan sub-s t i t u t e is not as incongrous as f i r s t claimed by c r i t i c s . The blurr ings of the drives that push the protagonist Lamont is purposeful. He cannot be simplya-defrocked pr iest consumed with lechery. Nor can he be simply, a zealot . We must witness t e r r i b l e ambiguity in Lamont's odyssey for that is the nature of his dilemma. Boorman continues t h i s latent sexual element when Lamont defies both his superiors to become an outlaw of the underworld. He journeys to A f r ica to search for a grown-up Kokumo whom he believes can help him release Regan from her torment. In Ethiopia he meets up with Ecumenical Edwards (Ned Beatty). Edwards becomes Lamont's guide and companion in his search for the c l i f f - d w e l l i n g s of J e p t i , (Lamont's dream source of Kokumo). Edwards plays a very subtle but important ro le in the f i l m . He leads Lamont to the sepulchral c i t y as Merlin leads Arthur to his r i gh t fu l place at Camelot. In e f fec t , Edwards plays much the same ro le in "The Heretic" as Bobby in "Deliverance." Like Bobby, he i s the most feminine character. In e f fec t , Boorman makes Beatty Lamont's animus, the feminine part of himself that his Catholic cel ibacy has suppressed. If his t r a v e l l i n g companion cannot be a real woman, i t can be t h i s sof ter , s e l f -168 depreciating outcast with whom he can share a short, but completely de l ight fu l inter lude. As an expression then of Lamont's own latent sexual s t i r r i n g s , Edwards becomes the most ent ic ing character in the f i l m . Boorman infuses his b r ie f , but important appearance with double meanings and irony. Edwards has shorn the hassock of the world and become, l i k e Lamont, a kind of adventurer-outlaw. He is a bush-pi lot who hustles re l ig ious icons to the newly established Catholic missions throughout Eth iopia . He i s f i r s t revealed emerging from his t rusty Cessna 172 with a c r u c i f i x fo r a group of mission s i s t e r s . Edwards stands as the perfect f o i l against the pretentious Cardinal Jaros. More, he becomes an expression of what Father Lamont might become. Edwards is open, honest, disarming, and unsentimental. "Rel ig ion's • my business. P l a s t i c sa in ts , icons, buddhas, voodoo gr is gr is . . . Ecumenical Edwards, they c a l l me." The fresh a i r , and sweet contempt Edwards breathes into the f i l m , stands out among the best things that Boorman has ever done. In keeping with the conventions of the assumed-identity narrat ive, "Exorcist II" now becomes a road movie. We f l y with Lamont and Edwards in a surreal journey over the dry unearthly Afr ican landscape. Again Boorman orchestrates special ef fects that are t r u l y astonishing. They work as expressive of the apocalyptic dimension of Lamont's quest. We are with Lamont aboard the piper-cub as he f l i e s toward the c l i f f - d w e l l i n g s of Jept i with the surge of a t r u l y metaphysical adventure. Rich Combs says i t best. "Cameras plummet, t w i s t , and dive over the Afr ican landscape . . . [Boorman's] recreations of pr imit ive scenery, through his use of 169 f i e r c e burning colours suggest a world s t i l l in a state of primal f l u x . " In Lamont's i n i t i a l adventure in dept i , within Ragan's unconscious, Boorman reveals a pagan re l ig ious r i t u a l not unlike the barrio hyster ia that Lamont witnessed at the outset of the story. As the frenzy for the search for Kokumo increases, Boorman reveals synchronization between Regan and Lamont that occurs without the use of Tuskin's machine. Now, as the real exploration of the c l i f f - d w e l l i n g takes place, Regan's: unconscious connections with Lamont is such that her nightmare v is ion of his quest intrudes upon her everyday l i f e . As Lamont searches among the s i l e n t ruins of Jept i f o r the adult Kokumo, Regan fa in ts in the middle of a tap -dance review. As Lamont is h i t by a native a f ter stumbling upon the young Kokumo, who is dead, Regan goes into a seizure. Throughout, Boorman increases the i n te r -cu t t i ng between Regan's recovering in a New York hosp i ta l , and Lamont's fevered searching for the source of her possession. The dreaded source l i e s in the character of the older Kokumo who is dressed as a locust . In order to expiate Regan's possession, Lamont must enter the dark-ness completely. Like Simon's conversion before Beelzebub, the P ig 's Head in Golding's Lord of the F l i e s , Lamont renounces any former hesitancy and enters the pagan element completely. In return he gains a v is ion of a contemporary adult Kokumo, who is suddenly formed into an entomologist (Steven Kutcher), intent upon f inding a means of d i f fus ing the swarm i n s t i n c t of the deadly locust . As the monotone slow drone of the sound track reverberates, with 170 indicat ions of minds-in-synch, Boorman juxtaposes Lamont's return to America aboard a 747, with a giant incarnation of the Ev i l (Bazoozoo), as a deadly locust . A l l . . . Regan, Sharon, Jean, Lamont,. and t h e : E v i l converge upon the Georgetown house, s i t e of the o r ig ina l exorcism. Here, past and present, Chr ist ian and pagan, genesis and apocalypse,, merge. In keeping with the assumed-identity p lo t , a l l the key f igures in the deception assemble in the same place for the denouement. Boorman however, clouds the o r ig ina l focus of Lamont's s p i r i t u a l conversion by doubling the deception at every l e v e l . Lamont's assumed-identity (pagan adventurer) was undertaken so le ly in his desire fo r a meaningful act that would restore his f a i t h as a man-in-the-world. That the Ev i l Force, Bazoozoo, i s revealed as a double of Regan and as a seductress _i_s in keeping with the latent , ambiguous dr ives , that pushes Lamont on. At the end Dr. Jean Tuskin is revealed herself as possessed. She dies (as did the Catholic g i r l at the outset of the f i lm) in a f i r e she does not r e s i s t . Locusts swarm throughout the Georgetown house as they did upon the boy Kokumo's Afr ican v i l l a g e . As Lamont dies in cutt ing the e v i l heart out of Regan's seductive double, Regan subdues the cosmic destruction (the house s p l i t s apart) by beating the a i r in a echo action the young Kokumo took in saving his v i l l a g e from a s im i la r cosmic holocaust. The ending is too busy, and reveals only that Boorman's o r ig ina l focus on Father Lamont has gotten away from him. Lamont has achieved a meaningful act ; he has cared for another, deeply, and in t h i s act he has s a c r i f i c e d himself fo r i t . That such action should release Regan from her possession is r e a l l y immaterial. Essential to Lamont's story is 171 that he make a meaningful act . That Boorman must attend also to the demands of Fr iedk in 's narrative only obscures the thrust of what essent ia l l y i s a drama about Chr ist ian ex is ten t ia l i sm. Several real problems make "Exorcist II" much less of a f i l m that i t should,have been. There are just too many c i r c u l a r references that are t i ed together mechanist ical ly . The l i n k , fo r example, between Jean's increasing anxiety throughout, and f i n a l incinerat ion is just not c lea r l y developed. There i s too, no sat is factory context made for the embodiment of Regan's possession by the Ev i l Force as there was by i t embodying the locust . For that matter, the Ev i l (Bazoozoo) might have been more successful embodied in streetcars out of cont ro l . In choosing such esoter ic manifestations of Ev i l allows Boorman to engage?in pyrotechniques. Boorman's preoccupation with Lamont's s p i r i t u a l c r i s i s i s a theme in keeping with his own v i s i o n . Yet, by v i r tue of the demands of Fr iedkin 's precedent narrative* Lamont's act , restores to him a kind of heroic status. This ending is inevi table in that the possessed must f i n a l l y be f reed, yet Lamont gains freedom j_n the act , and that should have been Boorman's expression of his story. That Lamont frees another i s super-fluous and essent ia l l y destructive of the nature of contingency upon which Lamont's quest began. The ending then i s a mix of several points -of -v iew, neither of which serve the narrative he has constructed w e l l . Does Lamont's s a c r i f i c e make him a Chr ist ian again? Wi l l another force enter the exorcised Regan, and as within Kokumo, make her an embodiment of yet another ev i l ? Is Boorman suggesting that Chr ist ian dogma and pagan r i t u a l have s imi la r 172 curative powers? Does science have a ro le in mental health? Wi l l a Boorman hero ever get a woman who is more than just a seductress? Do we care? At the end, we have lost sight of the important metaphysical question; what i s the d i s t i n c t i o n between an avowed humanism and a sense of humanity in a world f u l l of an e v i l ? Boorman's Father Lamont i s , i n i t i a l l y a complex, embodiment of an ideal that has appeared in various forms within most of his f i l m s . The unfortunate attention to precedent plots and actors conspired in "Exorcist II" to take Boorman away from dealing f u l l y with his questing i d e a l . Nonetheless, "Exorcist II" does I would argue, contain some of Boorman's best work. His continuing attempt to lend cosmic expression to a personal anxiety, is c l e a r l y a statement of the importance of his metaphysic. While he searched for a cinematic expression of the epiphanic, Boorman lost sight of his character and his narrat ive . Yet within his technical concern in achieving a v i sua l i za t ion of man's quest, on a grand sca le , Boorman has operated l i k e F e l l i n i or Antonioni , always at the edge of a cinema. If he could t e l l a story with the same elan as he achieved in some of his e f fec ts , Boorman would indeed be a d i rector of stature. Perhaps the seminal quest theme that runs through a l l of Boor* man's work needs to be tackled d i r e c t l y . 173 CHAPTER ELEVEN: "EXCALIBUR" (1981) In the Gra i l legends, two oppositions are at work. The personal i n s t i n c t fo r violence and passion, versus the ideals of community and harmony of fel lowship as demanded by the Round Table. The Arthurian romances are simply ta les about men who were stretched physical ly and 1 psychological ly beyond the i r means. Malory's Morte d'Arthur was written at a time when feudal i ns t i tu t i ons could no longer stand up against more democratic urges. Time-honoured p o l i t i c a l i ns t i tu t i ons of the f i f teenth century were in chaos. As Elizabeth Pochoda has wr i t ten , "the change from the paternal society of Uther, to the f raterna l p o l i t i c a l society of Arthur 's Round Table, meant the Round Table must generate within i t s e l f , the renunciations and r e s t r a i n t s , which in a former age were imposed by 2 •the ru le r . In the Arthurian romances, man as aggressor caused the fe l low-ship of the Round Table to become decadent. The Gra i l quest became the vehicle fo r personal and soc ia l renewal. The "quest" became both an opportunity and a symbol. It was an opportunity to seek out and r e c t i f y i n j u s t i c e , as well as a symbol of whole-heartedness in the face of temp-t a t i o n . Boorman's f i l m i c treatment of the seminal legend does not centre on the meaning of the G r a i l . It is instead a f i l m that makes a spectacle of adolescent v io lence. It i s a f i l m in which Boorman's preoccupation with 3 images l i e s at the heart of i t s f a i l i n g s . The d i s to r t i on of colour, and v isual pyro-techniques creates a lushness that makes the Arthurian world he i s depicting seem a fake. Boorman's f i l m i c landscape in "Excalibur" 174 has simply become too r i c h . The chaos and ruin of s ixth-century B r i ta in af ter the departure of the Roman Legions is a very staged ru in . The f i l m i s too bright to capture the lure of alchemy and pantheism, and too clean to capture the darkness of Ce l t i c mysticism. "Excalibur" suffers an excessive attention to decor, costume, and l i g h t i n g , at the expense of a so l i d s c r i p t . Boorman's sense of the surreal backf i res . Myth is depowered through the excesses of a r t i f i c i a l i t y . The f i l m does recreate the major narrat ive incidents of Arthur 's l i f e ; the b i r th of Arthur, his winning of the kingdom with Excal ibur , Lancelot 's a f f a i r with Guinevere, the Gra i l quest, and Arthur 's death. At the fo re -front of these incidents is not however the depiction of character, or the medieval chaos that spurned a new order. At the centre is the "look" of Boorman's mise-en-scene. Boorman's frame i s decidedly without chaos, or magic. Boorman's "Exca l ibur" - i s too f u l l of p r i s t i n e colours to be about darkness. It i s c loser to a rock-video, or a t e l e v i s i o n commerical. The opening episode reveals the degree to which Boorman has ignored real ism. The ambience he posits in i t s stead does not work. Uther Pendragon a C e l t i c Lord and Arthur 's father i s engaged in bat t le with another knight, Gor lo is . The whole batt le-scene is b a c k - l i t by arc l ights cutt ing through a glowing fog. Reminiscent of Kurosawa's "Ugetsu," warriors wage a batt le in s i lhouette . Dressed in black and shining armour, the sequence has a f u t u r i s t i c look, rather than the worn-down ruinous look of medieval, feudal chaos. The batt le goes badly fo r Uther so he c a l l s upon Mer l in , the magician who del ivers Excalibur the magic sword, green and g l i s ten ing from the lake. There is neither context fo r Mer l in 's act ion , 175 or s u f f i c i e n t connection with him to Uther to establ ish any kind of lineage or loya l ty . Suddenly, Boorman reveals Uther's v ictor ious banquet that i s more appropriate to an Arab Sheik's tent , than to the cold wet climes of Cornwall. The v ictory spectacle is a display of bel ly-dancing by Gor lo is ' wife that spurs the hot blood of a l l the warriors present. A track-shot down a table reveals warriors roused by l u s t . Suddenly, Boorman interacts a rather obvious symbol. A huge battering-ram smashes through yet another entrance of Gor lo is ' c a s t l e . Rather than depicting the self - indulgence that i s to destroy a kingdom, Boorman's s e x i s t , banal, symbol reveals the knights to be having one round of j o l l y good fun a f ter another. Boorman's knights are l i t t l e more than hormone-rich school-boys. Such stereotyping depowers the power of the Gra i l quest when i t appears in the f i l m , because Boorman depicts his protagonists without any sense of d isso lut ion whatever. Uther, t h e i r leader i s simply the most macho of a l l . He goes after Igraine reso lute ly , and seemingly without the sense of ob l igat ion of Mer l in 's part in t h i s lechery that has been unleashed. Warrior aggression was part of feudal chaos; Boorman's rendering of i t is however, f a r too decorative. The debauchery in Gor lo is ' Great ha l l goes on while Uther, transformed into an image of his enemy, seduces Igraine. It i s however, a debauchery without the squal lor that should attend i t . Boorman's frame is as arrest ing as a Constable canvas, but his characters lack w i l l . In t h i s sequence, Uther's knights s i t about banging away with swords on tab les . The staging depowers the v iolence. Where the orchestration of t h i s sequence should be b r i s t l i n g with montages to reveal the varying levels of s e l f - i n t e r e s t , Boorman's "long take" reduces the 176 baseness to r i d i c u l e . It is as i f the debauchery were part of the c u r r i -culum at Chartwell . It has a l l the l i fe lessness imposed by an over-attention to form. Unfortunately t h i s scene is played over and over throughout the f i l m . Aggression and sexual debauchery is not enough however to pass off even as a co l leg ia te version of the Arthurian legend. What the story needs i s the magic of red squal lor , and a sense of espr i t de corps that goes beyond common l u s t . Boorman's attempts to reveal these two elements, the essence of the Arthurian Tales, f a i l s . Take for example, the episode in which the young Arthur saves the besieged cast le of Leon de Gratz. Arthur 's loyal campaigners r ide into ba t t l e , bedecked in g l is ten ing sta in less steel armour. His enemies of course, wear black. I t ' s as s i l l y as Lone Ranger's white horse " S i l v e r " ; and even more r id icu lous when you consider the world Boorman i s reveal ing. The would-be knights of the Round Table a la Boorman, belong in a t e l e v i s i o n "garbage-bag" commercial. The f i gh t scenes seem to extend that same t e l e v i s i o n look. Batt le scenes are shot without the rapid edit ing so amenable to f i l m . Each image, i t seems, competes in composition with another. The "look" has become important . . . the narrat ive thread i s l o s t . Arthur 's heroism is revealed sole ly by his lack of armour and chimpanzee-l i k e a b i l i t y to scale cast le wa l l s . That he too, i s struck dumb by a face of a g i r l (Guinevere de Gratz) l i k e his father , does nothing to mark him out as one who w i l l j e l l his adventurous knights into a new moral order. Other than his boyish face, Boorman creates; an Arthur without any intimations of that inner c a l l that w i l l unite his knights into a p o l i t i c a l 177 i d e a l . The scene in which Boorman depicts the Round Table i s yet another example of "look" having consumed p lot . Shafts of white and blue l i gh t re f lected from modified Chr ist ian crosses f a l l on a l l the "r ight" faces. It might have worked in "Scarface" in 1931. F i f t y years l a te r , such v isual expressions are banal. A l l are revealed s i t t i n g about in g l is ten ing s ta in less steel splendour. Yet, that i s a l l they do, just s i t about. From t h i s decadence, to Arthur 's decision to seek the G r a i l , occurs in about f i v e minutes of f i l m time. Previous to Arthur 's sudden mention of i t , the Gra i l has been wholly absent from the f i l m . Social interact ion has been ent i re ly ego-driven. With Arthur 's mention of, "we must f ind what we have l o s t , " the s i lvered knights a l l suddenly scurry away, suddenly redirected with purpose. One knight r e t o r t s , "we w i l l f ind the G r a i l , or d i e . " This kind of i n fan t i l e reductionism, and forced dialogue makes the Gra i l quest meaningless, and the f i l m quite s i l l y . From a myth f i l l e d with dramatic tension between a democratic i d e a l , and the struggle fo r personal motivation, Boorman in "Excalibur" creates only a pyrotechnical adolescent s c i - f i f l i c k . V isua l ly the f i l m is so impressed with i t s e l f , that i t f a i l s to de l ivers i t s ,intended narrat ive. The more Boorman t r i e s to capture a special look of magic and mystery, the more the power of the Arthurian romance recedes from him. In the o r i g ina l legend, two elements of enchantment are basic to the narrat ive. One is the pagan concept of renewal inherent in the landscape. The other is the wizardry that Merl in represents and brings to Arthur. Both these elements are important, in that through them, a tone of magic is created 178 that helps move epic toward myth. In the o r i g ina l Arthurian legend, two elements within the landscape achieve the ideal of renewal . . . the G r a i l , and the sword, Excal ibur. Through the G r a i l , the knight-questors are forced into an awareness of the wasteland that i s an expression of t h e i r barren and ego-driven souls. Excal ibur , the sword, represents that movement from impasse to renewal. Through Excal ibur , i t i s man who is charged with a f fect ing destiny. With Excal ibur , ideals that are grounded in purpose, move from action to completion. Boorman's f i l m f a i l s to conceptualize these two important elements beyond the v i sua l l y s u p e r f i c i a l . This s u p e r f i c i a l l y depowers his whole spectacle. More, these two icons f a i l to become the centre around which the narrat ive should revolve. More serious however, is Boorman's rendering of Perceval 's quest fo r the G r a i l . As we fol low Perceval 's quest fo r the Gra i l through the Waste-land, an inversion takes place that depowers the whole meaning of the quest. Boorman takes us with Perceval, through mountain-tops and h i l l - s i d e glens. The v is ion i s one of man being superior to the elements. In revealing Perceval as persevering against the elements, such as the b l i zzard he sets up fo r us, Boorman reveals not a tortured, but a triumphant soul . Boorman makes machismo fo r t i t ude , not inner desolation achieve the G r a i l ; and i t is t h i s very inversion that Boorman's interpretat ion of the Gra i l legend becomes shallow. Action rather than angst prevai ls in Boorman's v i s i o n . That action is so d i rect that is buries completely any notion of an inner s p i r i t u a l c r i s i s . Boorman's wasteland becomes, rather than a surreal extension of s e l f , a very l i t e r a l set . Less fortunate, and presumably less macho knights are revealed hanging from dead t rees . Boorman's graphic realism here is quite outside the Gra i l s p i r i t when he reveals ravens eating the eyes that hang from adead man's s k u l l . Gratuitous violence i s supposed to cover fo r mystery, only i t doesn't. The violence g r a t i f i e s , but i t also confuses. Who hung these knights? Why? If Mordred and Morgana are at the core of the vortex that draws the knights, why is Perceval saved from the same fate? We don't know. Boorman re l ishes us with colour, instead of int r igu ing us with the magic of narrative d e t a i l . Inherent in the Gra i l quest i s the passage from impasse to the place of renewal, the place Northrop Frye c a l l s the "green world." This green world i s c r u c i a l to the Arthurian legend in that i s equates a reaff irmation to serve mankind. This medieval notion of landscape coming to r e f l e c t a mindscape that i s in synch with the ordered hierarchy of the cosmos, reveals the extent to which iconography plays such an inherent part of the magic of the or ig ina l t a l e . Boorman seems to ignore the metaphoric in favour of a highly expressionist view. Although a b r i l l i a n t green l i gh t emanates from the blade of Excalibur in the fo res t , i t is just too bright and too l i t e r a l to fuse the symbolic nature of Excalibur into the rest of the narrat ive . Boorman takes the metaphoric greenness too l i t e r a l l y . For example, there are sequences in the Arthurian romance when green abounds. When Arthur pu l l s Excal ibur from the stone, greenness reverberates about the whole fo res t . When Arthur plunges Excalibur between his wife and Lancelot who are sleeping nude together in the fo res t , greens explode everywhere. When the knights led by Perceval and Lancelot go for th from the wasteland 180 to do bat t le with Mordred and Morgana, a l l i s cast in a glowing green. Ostensibly Boorman is representing the element of renewal inherent in the sword. It does not work. Boorman's depiction of Arthur as a c h i l d of nature f a i l s because the ef fects surrounding his s p i r i t u a l reb i r th are overblown. The surreal ef fects achieved by the colour desaturation process in the sequence in "Deliverance" in which Ed climbs the c l i f f - f a c e above the gorge on the Cahulawassee, works because of the incredib le intimacy Boorman achieves with his camera. We become Ed; the so la r i za t ion process Boorman uses here works because the rest of the f i l m is shot in a contrasting pale, foreboding colour. In "Excal ibur , " the h ighl ight ing of green is done so v i v i d l y , and so often, that any sense of mystery is under-cut by a r t i f i c i a l i t y . There is one scene in which S i r Gwain while searching for the Gra i l i s shown wandering among a distressed settlement of peasants. Here, the poverty of the natural se t t ing , and peasants denuded of d ignity and wealth are seen cutt ing furze from an unyielding barren downland. As Gwain r ides through t h e i r settlement he r i gh t l y suffers t h e i r verbal abuse. His own sense of desolation surfaces as he receives t h e i r ind ign i ty , not with contempt, but with compassion. Here, Boorman does achieve the i ron ic element inherent in the quest. However in the rest of the f i l m , adventure and not loss , p reva i l s . The i ns ip id green that over-glows from Excalibur mocks i t s own restorat ive , and s p i r i t u a l power. The sequence in which Perceval and Lancelot leave the wasteland with the G r a i l , i s yet another example of Boorman's f a i l u r e to take his f i l m beyond the Tight show that i t has become. As horses and men charge onward 181 ostensibly renewed, the fo l iage they pass turns magically from deadening grey to b r i l l i a n t green. The problem is that looking c lose ly one can see the green l i gh ts go on. More, as the "renewed" knights hoof through f i e l d s of apple trees in f u l l blossom, white apple blossoms are seen to be dropped jus t in front of the camera. If Boorman is pointing to the blossomed f i l l e d death place of Arthur in Avalon, i t i s yet another crude colour e f fect that simply does not work. Boorman's f a i l i n g in?"Excal ibur" i s a f a i l i n g of the l i t e r a l . His depiction of the seminal legend has become stuck in i t s own adventure. The green world, the mythic magical landscape of change that i s so much a part of the o r i g i n a l metaphor needs an interpretat ion vast ly more complex than violence and r i c h co lorat ion . Boorman's greenness is too c r i s p , too c lea r , and too a r t i f i c i a l . The legend requires a "Middle Earth" qual i ty something akin to the surreal landscape of Altman's "Popeye." Shakespeare knew t h i s w e l l . His dream world in A Midsummer's Night  Dream i s peopled/by f a i r i e s ; i t i s a place of dreams and magic. In A Winter's Tale, the rural society of Bohemia represents that other, green world. In The Tempest the i d y l l i c is land serves to energize Prospero, and enable him to summon up the power of the cosmos. Boorman, who did so well in developing an i n t e r i o r landscape in previous f i lms (notably "Point Blank," "Leo the Last , " and "Deliverance,") suffers from the l imi tat ions he imposed by remaining l i t e r a l . His own f i l m i c background, should have served him better . For example, the romantic comedies of the f o r t i e s such as "Bringing Up Baby," or "The Phi ladelphia Story" placed the mythic green element in "Connecticut" . . . a location safely beyond the verbal 182 barrage of cosmopolitan New York. The mention of Connecticut holds subtle promise that the bat t l ing lovers in these f i lms w i l l get back together. Boorman's l i t e r a l i z a t i o n of the ideal of renewal is techn ica l l y too b r i l l i a n t , and s t ruc tu ra l l y unsound to serve his treatment of t h i s seminal legend w e l l . He might have, fo r example considered a surreal treatment as in Antonioni 's "L'Aventure," or u t i l i z e d a more l y r i c cameria, instead of his own stagey and d iscrete camera a la Scorsese. He might too have considered a less prosaic dialogue f i l l e d more with nuance than of bravado. In his own case, his heavy-handedness both in terms of colour, and otherelements, creates a space-age look. "Excalibur" becomes a medieval "Star Wars," and less because of i t . Boorman's task in "Excalibur" was to reveal fo r us the r i s e and f a l l of a dynasty founded upon*a Chr ist ian f a i t h , and led astray by mysticism. The ro le therefore of Mer l in , as a f o i l to a l l the supposed forces of good in the t a l e , i s c r u c i a l . In Malory's Morte D'Arthur, Merl in represents temptation. In Boorman's treatment he comes to stand fo r l i t t l e more than sublimated sexua l i ty . The most hopeful feature of Boorman's Merlin (Nicol Williamson) i s the twinkle in his eye. Boorman makes Merl in sadly, and i r o n i c a l l y ponderous, jealous, and essent ia l l y misogynist, when he should be l i g h t , and qu ixo t ic , and ever f u l l of mischief in the powers of darkness he is capable of unleashing. A las , Boorman's Merlin i s an imp who is never allowed to be impish. In Malory's t a l e , Mer l in 's a t t ract ion to the lady Vivian caused him to reveal to her his secrets , which she used against him to seal him up in a t ree forever. In Boorman's f i l m , Mer l in 's strange attachment to Morgana 183 (Arthur's h a l f - s i s t e r ) gives his narrative the chance to continue the sexual nature of the violence, with which the f i l m began. In the scene in which Merl in has enticed Morgana to his caverns of alchemy beneath Camelot, we see the strangeness of Boorman's v i s i o n . In Boorman's f i l m , Merlin leads Morgana to his enclave to k i l l her, as she has betrayed her power. This descent i s however, a descent into sublimated sexual i ty . Early in the f i l m , Boorman has Merlin give Uther the chance to seduce Igraine. The begotten c h i l d Arthur would be Mer l in 's to r a i s e . Merl in i s by extension, a surrogate lover. Boorman shows the peering Morgana, Lancelot and Arthur 's queen Guinevere, making love. Boorman's depiction of Merl in as being both attracted and repulsed by Morgana is reveal ing. Her "meddling acts" does, as in the Gra i l myth, bring the world to the edge of r u i n . Yet Merl in i s affected by Morgana enough to allow for his sorcery to bring about an i l l i c i t a f f a i r that w i l l resu l t in the b i r th of Arthur. Through Morgana, and her treacherous ways, Boorman reveals man's basic fear of women. Morgana in the f i l m encapsulates Merl in in a t r e e - l i k e stalagmite. The rescuer, Arthur, arr ives upon the scene to see Lancelot and Guinevere making love in the fo res t . He uses Excalibur not to slay them, but to serve as a warning of his renewed power. In dr iv ing Excalibur into the stone between the lovers, Arthur i s able to act against the woman as enchantress. He is not however able to stop the e v i l Morgana, or her incestuous son Mordred. Mordred's b i r th in the f i l m s i g n i f i e s a breach in nature; i t represents the degree of inturning that the kingdom has undergone. The source of the G r a i l , has changed. Boorman places i t within Morgana. Female temptation 184 and possession becomes the focus of what was i n i t i a l l y man's l us t . Boorman makes Morgana the embodiment of e v i l . Her son Mordred must slay the father . When Arthur plants Excalibur between his sleeping wife and his former a l l y , he reveals the knowledge that the sword, l i k e Mer l in , must be used only fo r good. Yet in the f i l m , Boorman has Perceval rea l i ze the sword must only be used for good. Retrieving i t from the lake, Perceval uses i t towage other batt les against the enchantress. Boorman continues to cast women as the root of e v i l to the end of the f i l m . Upon her death-bed, as in the seminal legend, Arthur and Guinevere forgive each other. Mordred turns against h is mother, and k i l l s her as she ages before his eyes. Arthur in turn uses Excalibur one last time to k i l l Mordred. In that act Mer l in ' s power is gone forever, and man i s authentic and f ree . There i s however, a disturbing element to the inturning of Boorman's treatment of women in the f i l m . In Malory's t a l e , women are not cast as e v i l doers d i r e c t l y . They are also extensions of the agape that defines the Round Table. Guinevere may seduce Lancelot, she also inspires him. Malory in fact sent Guinevere to a monastery fo r years a f ter her adulterous a f f a i r with Lancelot. In "Excalibur" Boorman receives the scopophil ic gaze. Women know they receive man's gaze, and use i t . At the beginning Igraine is as much a part of Uther's temptation as his own l us t . She dances for him as much as he wants her. This scopophil ia runs throughout the f i l m . Merl in watches Igraine; Arthur watches Lancelot and Guinevere; we watch Morgana and Mer l in . Moreover, when-we cannot watch further , the offending female is k i l l e d . Boorman's matricide is vast ly d i f ferent to the matricide in Malory's t a l e . It i s akin to the kind of death Zed makes 185 of May in "Zardoz." Women become cont ro l l e rs , and hence they must be k i l l e d . What i s l e f t f i n a l l y i s a world of male camaraderie ("Deliverance"); of love between males, ("Hell in the P a c i f i c " ) ; or ult imately of s e l f -love ("Point Blank") . The resu l t i s a quest that backfires upon i t s e l f . "Excalibur" i s then an adolescent fantasy. Its reduction to sexual voyeurism that i s l inked to violence i s an expression of a most conservative doctr ine. In "Excal ibur , " women have become powerful, and men resent i t . The evolution of human consciousness has a long way to come. Perhaps "Excalibur" f a i l s because Boorman has done what needed to be done, in previous work. He u t i l i z e d the surreal in "Point Blank," the re l ig ious in "Deliverance," the mythic in "Exorcist I I , " and the humourous in "Leo the Last . " Unfortunately, Boorman's stra ight version of "Excalibur" was doomed to l i t t l e more than a spectacle at the outset. Boorman's attempt to in ject the f i l m with a l l i t s grandiose e f fects resulted sadly in a spectacle that did not prove worthy of the o r i g i n a l . In conclusion, i t must be noted however, that Boorman has attempted to do with a l l the pyrotechnics of the modern-cinema, that which others would not touch. His honest attempt to recreate the seminal legend without the parody as in Monty Python, or the opera of Syerberg's " P a r s i f a l , " or the contemporary intimacy of Rohmer, demanded a head-on approach to the v io lent s p i r i t of an age gone by. Boorman's "Excalibur" _is a spectacle, and although i t i s too spectacular fo r i t s own narrat ive , i t reveals a f i l m maker who is not s a t i s f i e d with the generally accepted notions of the cinematic. He has taken chances, and f a i l e d where others have succeeded in more distant interpretat ions. If Monty Python's "The Holy 186 G r a i l " i s true to the s p i r i t of the Gra i l quest, "Excalibur" i s true to events of the Arthurian romances. The echoes of myth in Boorman's "Excalibur" show him to believe in a world that i s s t i l l the private domain of males. Man is v io lent because of, and f o r , women. It is an ominous and fr ightening commentary, but one Boorman shows us that has been apart of our culture fo r almost a thousand years. That in te ract ion , strong enough to shape the Gra i l myth, Boorman believes shapes us s t i l l . 187 CHAPTER TWELVE: CONCLUSION: BOORMAN AS IMMANENTIST At the outset of t h i s study, i t was stated that Boorman's feature f i lms contained narrative elements and character types that were also found in the Gra i l legend. The resu l t of such s imi l i tudes was a body of work that seemed to echo the major themes of the Arthurian romance. It was also noted that the f a i t h that drove the medieval questors, and ult imately led them to a new epiphanic v is ion did not occur among Boorman's twentieth-century protagonists. The insight and in tegr i t y gained, i f only, by Boorman's contemporary questors was an insight that revealed the heart of man to be dark with violence and s e l f - i n t e r e s t . This knowledge of man's l imited stature in the face of a universe conditioned to emnity makes Boorman neither a Chr ist ian or a s t r i c t e x i s t e n t i a l i s t . His v is ion of man as evident from those feature f i lms in which he had a large measure of production and scr ip t cont ro l , l i e s halfway between the Chr ist ian v is ion inspired by the Arthurian myths, and man's chaotic absurdity as expressed by the secular e x i s t e n t i a l i s t . Simply, Boorman's protagonists reveal him to be an Immanentist. The Chr is t ian Romance The Gra i l hero of the Arthurian romance was the reincarnation of 1 Chr ist on earth. Drawing on pagan themes and motifs of C e l t i c mythology, the Arthurian romances celebrate the v i r tues of Chr ist ian ch iva l ry . Leaving l i t t l e room for the orthodox Church, the hero of the romances 188 Perceval , wins the Grai l because he is found to be heir to the Fisher King, becomes a Chr is t ian , is personally resolute, and is strong of character. In the romances the Fisher King is st r icken with disease, and Arthur and the Round Table have lapsed into s lo th . The land is plunged into war and ru in . Perceval storming the Gra i l cast le retr ieves the Gra i l and rules benevolently, and humanely fo r ten years. When he d ies , the Gra i l disappears forever. Ostensibly i t goes to heaven with him. The Gra i l hero then manifests the s p i r i t of Chr i s t . He learns c i v i l i t y as opposed to savagery, and becomes an authentic human being as opposed to a brute. The Gra i l hero i s the symbol of ideal man. Like Chr i s t , he i s perfected humanity. The Chr i s t - f i gu re Perceval, comes to man to destroy his incarnate error . The stress upon chast i ty of the Gra i l seeker i s due largely to the hero's resemblance to Chr i s t , but i s also due to the sex-fearing s t ra in of medieval Ch r i s t i an i t y that looms through-out the Arthurian romances. At the l a s t , f a i t h through the example of Chr ist motivates the Gra i l hero's drive not to get somewhere, but to be something. The lure of transcendence i m p l i c i t in the Gra i l myth over-comes the restlessness that l i e s at the core of human h istory . Boorman's heroes deny God: Father Lamont in "Exorcist II" turns his back on his Cathol ic orthodoxy and re jects his f a i t h . Walker in "Point Blank" has no f a i t h . The k i l l e r - i n s t i n c t motivates Lewis in "Deliverance," and Zed in "Zardoz." It prevents the protagonists in "Hel l in the P a c i f i c " from penetrating beyond m i l i t a r i s m . Leo sees absurdity in "Leo the Last , " and Nan, Guy, and Steve, in "Having a Wild Weekend" have nothing to replace t h e i r rest lessness. Boorman's protagonists are driven, 189 but they are not driven by a Chr ist ian f a i t h . The Ex is ten t ia l Dance In opposition to the f a i t h - f i l l e d c h i v a l r i c view of the Gra i l myth l i e s secular ex is tent ia l i sm. Born of nineteenth-century rat ional ism and twentieth-century destruct ion, the e x i s t e n t i a l i s t degraded Chr ist ian dogma and reduced i t to a means of slavery. The e x i s t e n t i a l i s t refused to accept the notion of the transcendent. For the e x i s t e n t i a l i s t , man's unadorned, unattached free w i l l made him construct a mental interpretat ion of the world. For the e x i s t e n t i a l i s t , one mental construction was as i ns ign i f i can t and as arb i t rary as any other. History in th i s context could have no lesson. Man for the e x i s t e n t i a l i s t was a meaningless, f ree , p a s s i o n - f i l l e d being. L i fe was absurd. Though Boorman's protagonists witness chaos, they are not creatures l i k e Godot, or Krapp, who twist and squirm, naked before the nothingness of man's condit ion. Beckett 's play Waiting for Godot sets out the challenge for modern man. For Beckettnot t e r r i b l y much divides the re l ig ious and i r r e l i g i o u s in man. The re l ig ious man sees his waiting in terms of Godot's coming. The i r r e l i g i o u s man cannot believe that Godot w i l l ever come, or that he ever even ex is ted . Both accept l i f e ser ious ly ; both see human existence beginning and ending in pathos. To the e x i s t e n t i a l i s t existence i s f u t i l e . Yet t h i s f u t i l i t y i s profoundly re l ig ious in that i t of fers modern man no hopes, i l l us ions , or cathar t ic r e c o n c i l i a t i o n . The e x i s t e n t i a l i s t determines to look d i r e c t l y 190 at l i f e ' s bleakness in complete awareness of his t o t a l , and indiv idual freedom, fo r the e x i s t e n t i a l i s t , man's l i f e cannot be t r a g i c , because that implies a f a l l i n g short of an i d e a l . Meaninglessness doesn't c a l l fo r super-human e f fo r t , or indeed su ic ide . It simply c a l l s fo r man to carry -on. In carrying-on, and in being simply a human being, existence takes on i t s own pa r t i cu la r , and pecul iar meaning. Boorman as Immanentist By and large Boorman's characters s t r i v e to f i nd meaning. More often than not, that search is grounded in a misperception. It i s only af ter Walker's penetration of the syndicate in "Point Blank" that he discovers his ethic of re t r ibut ion is hollow. It i s only a f ter Steve's f l i g h t from media explo i tat ion in "Having a Wild Weekend," that he discovers the ideal of freedom is impossible. Ed's knowledge of the murder he committed in "Deliverance" w i l l haunt him forever. Zed in "Zardoz" sets out to free the p r im i t i ve , only to discover that he himself chooses to remain a pr imit ive at the end. The meaning each of Boorman's protagonists f ind is unique, though i t i s not ca tha r t i c . The passion that drives Boorman's heroes does not stem from an outer re l i g ious f a i t h . Nor i s i t an expression of e x i s t e n t i a l awareness. It is simply part of t h e i r human nature. Something makes Boorman's heroes search for transcendence. His heroes are cont inual ly running a gauntlet, be i t r i vers ("Deliverance"), highways ("Having a Wild Weekend"), re l ig ious orthodoxy ("Exorcist I I " ) , technocracy ("Zardoz"), r a c i a l and soc ia l inequal i ty ("Leo the Last" ) , or m i l i ta r i sm ("Hell in the P a c i f i c " ) . The / 191 blindness to the f u t i l i t y of t h e i r often impassioned quest make Boorman's heroes the ant i thes is of being f ree . Boorman sees man as being infused with a great s p i r i t u a l power. It i s a force not present in h istory , as say the god-figure in the Arthurian romances; i t i s instead inherent i n , and at work w i th in , human history i t s e l f . This force that is so much a part of Eastern re l i g ion as evident in the f i lms of Kurosawa, could be ca l led Immanentism. Boorman's Immanentism is not unl ike Hegel's notion of the d i a l e c t i c , or Jung's sense of the c o l l e c t i v e unconscious. It i s a softer view of man that denies the rad ica l scepticisms of the secular e x i s t e n t i a l i s t . As an immanentist, Boorman can embrace f a i l u r e ; hence his questing heroes belong surely to the twentieth century. The achievements of Boorman's protagonists often end in f a i l u r e at the worst. At best, t h e i r actions are de f ic ient or inadequate. Father Lamont ("Exorcist I I " ) , and Walker ("Point Blank") , each die without r e c o n c i l i a t i o n . Steve ("Having a Wild Weekend"), loses a lover, and Marvin ("Hell in the P a c i f i c " ) , a f r i end . Ed ("Deliverance"), i s str icken by the knowledge of his e v i l heart. Zed ("Zardoz") re jects t h i s knowledge; and Leo ("Leo the Last" ) , doesn't r e a l i z e that in r ight ing i n j u s t i c e , he himself has become v io len t . Yet, in each of Boorman's f i lms there is hope. Despite the v iolence, Leo's catatonic l i f e has become impassioned. Lamont has grown from an orthodox Cathol ic to a more caring humanist. Steve w i l l f a l l in love again, and expect l ess . Perhaps Marvin's American son w i l l not be a so ld ie r , and perhaps one of Zed's chi ldren w i l l grow to be interested once again in the computer. Ed w i l l never, ever sleep the sleep of a c h i l d again; but he w i l l be a better man. 192 Boorman's Man: Alone and Limited The s i g n i f i c a n t factor in Boorman's f i lms is the l imited and guarded hope his protagonists express. Revelation is beyond the Immanetist world-view. Boorman's Immanentism i s marked by narratives that end with an implied sense of hope. No matter how l imited or d e f i c i e n t l y his characters have run, whatever gauntlet i s placed before them, the desi re , the passion, that divine element J_nman, has had a part in i t s expression. As such though every human potent ial fo r the completely ephipanic act i s thwarted, one gets the fee l ing in Boorman's characters that they would not make the same mistakes again. This sense of the l im i ted , but inevi table sense of progress that i s man's history i s the operative understanding of Immanentism. Unt i l the d i a l e c t i c process completes i t s e l f , s ingle human a c t i v i t y accounts fo r l i t t l e . Immanentism holds that l i t t l e by l i t t l e , over expanses of time man's f u l l creat ive expression is manifest. There is something in store fo r man in Boorman's f i lms and that i s man himself. Immanentism du l l s the Chr ist ian notion that man is able to achieve perfect ion; i t denies too the e x i s t e n t i a l negativism that would turn mankind's achievements to ashes. Since the div ine element, in man has had a hand in whatever he has constructed, there are in a l l Boorman's feature f i l m s , those characters who do perceive some small f i n a l t ru th . Boorman's characters are l im i ted , yet they are also d iv ine . In creating characters who are eas i ly possessed yet wholly inadequate, Boorman does not have to make his heroes t o t a l l y responsible. Hence the violence in Boorman's f i lms ("Deliverance," "Point Blank," "Hel l in the P a c i f i c , " "Zardoz") can have a meaningful context. Immanentism holds 193 that the Nazi Holocaust was not simply a hideous event as i t appears from our p a r t i a l viewpoint, i t has a j u s t i f i a b l e place in the greater scheme of meaning that w i l l eventually be a more human h istory . We can expect that war w i l l continue in "Hel l in the P a c i f i c . " Other mountain-men w i l l continue to avenge the loss of the Cahulawassee by murdering new intruders in "Deliverance." Syndicates w i l l continue to doublecross members in American c i t i e s , and the media w i l l f i nd even more manipulative ways to exp lo i t . For Boorman, violence is a part of human nature, because save for a small few, man has not yet evolved to the way of peace. There is no account fo r the death of God in Boorman's f i l m s . Father Lamont doesn't give up his f a i t h in "Exorcist I I , " he seeks a better expression of i t . Zed is not ready to accept the expansiveness of the new world-view manifest in the Tabernacle Computer in "Zardoz." For the moment, he retreats to outer displays of machismo, and a doci le woman's love. Ed's nightmare of the hand that r i ses from the Cahulawassee Lake i s a symbol of the violence he committed. His unspoken hope in the f i l m is that through i t , he might l i v e more f u l l y in future. Walker's consciousness of a wasted l i f e , played back in the moment of his death in "Point Blank," i s a too - l a te acknowledgement of a l i f e devoid of love. God does not die in Boorman's protagonists. He is at work at war, in ruinous technological change, and even in the closedness of a s t r i c t re l ig ious orthodoxy. God cannot be absent in Boorman's f i l m s ; he is ever-present in the heart of man. However, the blackness of man's heart i s always present in Boorman's f i l m s . His characters, he reveals are victims of an incomplete h istory . 194 In u t i l i z i n g narrative elements, characters, and themes that are echoes of those of the Arthurian romances, Boorman has been able to render archtypal f igures in a modern context. Boorman's preoccupation with such mythic themes as man's inate rest lessness, his re lat ionships and roles with women, contingency (or magic), and v io lence, shows us that these fears and preconceptions s t i l l pe rs i s t . In a century without God, Boorman i s unable to of fer a solut ion to man's human dilemma. Man for Boorman i s v io len t , s e x i s t , compulsive, ego-driven, and a f r a i d . In sp i te of these f a i l i n g s , Boorman's characters long for more. Echoes of Arthur p e r s i s t . 195 FOOTNOTES Preface: Notes on a C r i t i c a l Method For a more complete background of the development of Auteur Theory see: Astruc, Alexandre, "The Bi r th of a New Avant-Garde: Le Camera Sty lo , " in The New Wave, ed. by Peter Graham. Translated from Ecran  Francois, 144, March 30, 1948. Also James Monaco, The New Wave (New York: Oxford University Press, 1976). The f i r s t chapter of Monaco's text deta i l s the ro le of Henri Langois Cinematheque Francois in the education of Truffaut, Godard, Chabrol, Pokmer, and Rivette . 2 "La Po l i t ique des Auteurs," in The New Wave, ed. by Peter Graham. Translated from Cahiers du Cinema, No. 70, March 1957, p. 41. See also Andrew Sarr is contr ibut ion in "Notes on the Auteur Theory" in Film  Culture, .No. 27, Vo l . 6, 1963, p. 1-8. Pauline Kael c r i t i c i z e s Sar r i s ' interpretat ion of auteur c r i t i c i s m in "C i rc les and Squares: Joys and S a r r i s , " in Perspectives on the Study of F i lm, ed. by John Stuart (Boston: L i t t l e Brown and Co., 1971), p. 149. 3 Peter Woll.en, ; Signs and Meanings in the Cinema (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1969), p. 53. Chapter One: Dying Gods and Transformations Barry Norman, "One Man's V i s i o n , " in The Times Saturday Review, March 30, 1974, p. 11. p Linda Strawn, in Act ion. November/December 1972, p. 4. 3 Though fed by the climate of twentieth-century v io lence, ex is tent -ia l i sm is not s t r i c t l y a twentieth-century philosophy. Soren Kierkegaard's believed by the mid nineteenth-century that Chr i s t ian i t y inter ferred with man acting as a free agent. For Kierkegaard the worship of a God in the image of man was r i d i cu lous , because i t made l i t t l e d i f fe rent to anything, and hindered the arduous task of l i v i n g f ree ly with maximum in tens i ty . For Kierkegaard, t h i s t r a d i t i o n a l notion of God was dead. Nietzsche (1844-1900) saw Chr ist ian dogma making slaves of Western man. For him the search for a div ine being who brought order out of chaos was a 196 pathetic delusion that prevented the expression of human freedom. For Nietzsche i t was not just the t r a d i t i o n a l image of God, but God himself, who was dead. For Satre (1905-1980), who witnessed the depravity of man in the twentieth-century and acted j_n freedom, the notion of a be l ie f in a merciful God was impossible. For a more complete, b r i e f , overview of the re lat ionship of Chr ist ian and e x i s t e n t i a l thought, see John Wilds, ed. Ch r i s t i an i t y and Existent ia l ism. (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1963), p. bb-148. 4 The etymological root of the word absurd is i ns t ruc t i ve . It i s derived from the L a t i n , "ab surdo," and means s t r i c t l y , "out of harmony." hence the e x i s t e n t i a l i s t must ex is t a l ien and outside of any comforting re l ig ious or soc ia l dogma. 5 Richard Cavendish, King Arthur and the Gra i l (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1978), p. 40. 6 I b i d . , p. 41. 7 I b i d . , p. 11. I b i d . , p. 9. 9 I b i d . , p. 130. P.M. Mantarrasso, The Quest fo r the Holy Gra i l (London: Penguin Books, 1969), p. 99. 11 Cavendish, King Arthur and the G r a i l , p. 137. 1 2 I b i d . , p. 60. On the other hand, the Gra i l legends do contain examples of less than c h i v a l r i c att i tudes towards women. In Tristram and Isolde, a knight Gandin who was a v i o l i o n i s t i s urged to play fo r Isolde by Mark, King of Cornwall. Gandin is promised anything. Of course Gandin an old admirer, asks fo r Isolde. Mark bound to honour his word, gives the weeping lady to Gandin. Fortunately she i s rescued by Tristram, but not before the whole episode has echoed with sado-masochistic appeal. In another episode Galahad and Palomides are involved in a duel . The pr ize for the duel was Palomides g i r l . In the fol lowing tourney the two knights f igh t so hard that one of Galahad's sword blows was deflected from Palomides helmet, only to behead his horse.. Galahad ashamed to have k i l l e d the horse t o l d Palomides he could keep the g i r l . A knight without a woman to win is one th ing , but a knight without a horse is quite another! 197 1 4 P a u l i n e Kael , Reeling (Boston: L i t t l e Brown and Co., 1972), p. 277. 15 Robin Wood, Arthur Penn (London: Studio V i s t a , 1964), p. 15. 1 6 Richard Cavendish, King Arthur and the G r a i l , p. 144. 1 7 I b i d . , p. 112. 1 8Dean B i l l a n t i , in Films in Review, June/July 1981. Vo l . 33, No. 1. p. 377. '-1 9 I b i d . Chapter Three: Aesthetics - An Overview ^Derek E l l e r y , International Film Guide (New York: Atheneum, 1974), p. 17. o Pauline Kael , Reeling (Boston: L i t t l e Brown and Co., 1972), p. 277. 3 Robin Wood, Arthur Penn (London: Studio V i s t a , 1964), p. 15. Chapter F ive: "Point Blank" (1967) Stephen Farber, "The Writer: An Interview with Alexander Jacobs," in Film Quarterly. Vo l . 21, No. 2. Winter 68-69, p. 7. 2 I b i d . Jack Shadoian, Dreams and Dead Ends (Cambridge: M.I.T. Press, 1977), p. 309. Chapter S ix : "Hel l in the P a c i f i c " (1968) *Dan Yaki r , "The Sorcerer" in Film Comment, Vo l . 21, No. 6, May/June 1981, p. 52. 198 2 I b i d . , p. 53. From the Soundtrack of the Fi lm. Wilson, David. "Hell in the P a c i f i c " in Sight and Sound, Vol . 38, No. 3, Summer 1969, p. 156. 5 I b i d . , p. 156. Chapter Seven: "Leo the Last" (1970) *Roger Greenspun, "Nascent L iberal Played by Mastroianni in Leo," in The New York Times Film Reviews. May 11, 1970, p. 163. Yet other c r i t i c s such as Gordon Gow in a review of "Leo the Last" in Films and  F i lming. Vo l . 16, No. 7. August 1970, p. 7: praised the fiTrrL Chapter Eight: "Deliverance" (1972) ^James Dickey, Deliverance (New York: Dell Publishing Co. Inc. , 1970), p. 7. 2 I b i d . , p. 233. 3 John Boorman, "Director John Boorman Talks About His Work," in American Cinematographer, Vo l . 2, No. 3, march, 1975, p. 336. ^Stephen Farber, "Deliverance - How It De l ivers , " in The New York Times  Film Reviews. August 19, 1972, p. 300. c Vincent, Canby, New York Times Reviews. July 31, 1972, p. 271. ^Stephen Farber, "Deliverance - How It De l ivers , " p. 300. 7 John Simon, Reverse Angle,(New York: Faber Books, 1973), p. 85. Q James Dickey, Deliverance (New York: Del l Publishing Co. Inc. , 1970), p. 30. 199 Chapter Nine: "Zardoz" (1973) Frank Baum, The Wizard of Oz (London: Faber and Faber Inc . , 1930). p. 153. Chapter Ten: "Exorcist I I : The Heretic" (1977) P h i l i p S t r i c k , "Exorcist II" in Sight and Sound, Vo l . 49, No. 3, 1980, p. 171. Richard Combs, "Exorcist II" in Monthly Film B u l l e t i n , Vo l . 44, October, 1977, p. 212. 3 I b i d . , p. 211. Vincent Canby, "Exorcist II" in The New York Times Film Reviews, Vo l . 10, No. 1, June 18, 1977, p. 69": Bernard Dick, L i terature and Film Quarterly, Vo l . 5, No. 1, Winter 1977, p. 66. Richard Combs, Monthly Film B u l l e t i n , p. 211. 7 I b i d . . . Chapter Eleven: "Excalibur" (1981) *M.C. Bradbrook, S i r Thomas Malory (London: Longman's Green and Co., 1958), p. 16. 2 Elizabeth Pochoda, Arthurian Propaganda (Chapel H i l l : University of Carol ina Press, 1971), p. 106. ~ 3 P . J . F i e l d , ed. Morte D' Arthur (London:' Hoddart & Staughton, 1978), p. 52. 200 Conclusion: Boorman as Immanentist ^Richard Cavendish, King Arthur and the Gra i l (London: Weidenfeld and 1978), p. 31. 2 Eugene Borowitz, A Layman's Introduction to Religious Ex is tent ia l i sm, (Phi ladelphia: Westminster Press, 1975), p. 221. 201 BIBLIOGRAPHY Per iodical A r t i c l e s Avery, Wi l l iam. "Zardoz," in Films in Review. Vo l . 21, No. 4, October 1973. B isk ind , Peter, ed. "Director John Boorman Talks About His Work," in American Cinematographer. Vo l . 24, No. 6, March 1975. Blume, Mary. "Boorman at Forty," in Los Angeles Times Calendar. Vo l . 4, May 7, 1974. Brown, J . L . "Islands of the Mind," in Sight and Sound. Vo l . 39, No. 1, Winter 1970. Combs, Richard. "Exorcist I I : The Heret ic , " in Monthly Film B u l l e t i n . Vo l . 44, No. 10, October 1977. Canby, Vincent. "Of a H i t , A Ser ies , and The Word," in The New York  Times. May 10, 1981. Canby, Vincent. "Screen: Boorman's Excal ibur ," in The New York Times. A p r i l 10, 1981. Canby, Vincent. "Deliverance," in The New York Times. July 31, 1972. Canby, Vincent. "Exorcist I I : The Heret ic , " in The New York Times. June 18, 1977. : Clark, Arthur B. "Point Blank," in Films in Review. Vo l . 28, No. 8, October 1967. Crowther, Bosley. "Having a Wild Weekend," in The New York Times. August 19, 1965. Crowther, Bosley. "Point Blank," in The New York Times. September 19, 1967. Demsey, Michael. "Dickey in the Woods," in Cinema. Vo l . 8, No. 1, September 1973. Farber, Stephen. "An Interview with Alexander Jacobs," in Film Quarterly. Vo l . 21, No. 2, Winter 1969. 202 Farber, Stephen. "Deliverance: How i t De l ivers , " in The New York Times. August 19, 1972. Farber, Stephen. "The Writer in American F i lm," in Film Quarterly. Vo l . 21, No. 4, 1966. Gow, Gordon. "Playboy in a Monastery," in Films and Fi lming. Vo l . 18, No. 5, F a l l 1972. Gow, Gordon. "Leo the Last , " in Films and Fi lming. Vol . 16, No. 2, 1970. Greenspun, Roger. "John Boorman, Screenwriter," in The New York Times. Vo l . 44, No. 1, May 12, 1970. Mart in, James Michael. "Point Blank," in Film Quarterly. Vo l . 21, No. 4, Summer 1968. McCarthy, Pat r ick . "Liv ing in Ireland: Home Movies," in Var iety , September 2, 1981. M i l l e r , E. "Dave Clark Five Make a Movie," in Seventeen. Vo l . 24, No. 90, July 1965. Norman, Barry. "John Boorman: One Man's V i s i o n , " in The Times Saturday  Review. March 30, 1974. Owen, Michael. "Here Comes The Sorcerers," in The New York Times. February 22, 1981. Pol lock, Dale. "Boorman's Yen for Arthur Tale," in Var iety . Vol . 295, No. 3, June 27, 1979. Putney, P.G. "Wilderness World of Deliverance," in Contempora. Vo l . 1, No. 6, August 1971. Putney, P.G. "The C r i s i s We Deserve," in Sight and Sound, Vo l . 39, No. 4, Autumn 1970. Ross, T . J . "Point Blank-A Stalker in the C i t y , " in Film Heritage. Vo l . 5, No. 1, F a l l 1969. S a l t , Barry. "Fi lm Style and Technology in the Fo r t i es , " in Film  Quarterly. Vo l . 30, No. 1, F a l l 1976. Strawn, Lynda. "Conversation with John Boorman," in Act ion. Vol . 21, No. 11, December 1972. S t r i c k , P h i l i p . "White Man's Burden," in Sight and Sound. Vo l . 38, No. 3, Summer 1969. 203 S t r i c k , P h i l i p . "John Boorman's Mer l in , " in Sight and Sound. Vo l . 49, No. 3, 1980. S t r i c k , P h i l i p . "Leo the Last , " in Sight and Sound. Vo l . 34, No. 3, Summer 1970. S t r i c k , P h i l i p . "Zardoz and John Boorman," in Sight and Sound. Vol . 43, No. 1, Winter 1974. Weakland, John. "Feature Films and Culture Documents," in P r inc ip les  of Visual Anthropology. Paul Hockings, Ed. Hague's Morton, 1975. Wilson, David. "Hel l in the P a c i f i c , " in Sight and Sound. Vo l . 38, No. 3, Summer 1969. Wilson, Robert F. "Deliverance, From Novel to F i lm, " in L i terature and  Film Quarterly. Vo l . 11, No. 1, Winter 1974. Yaki r , Dan. "The Sorcerer," in Film Comment. Vo l . 21, No. 6, May/June 1981. Books Alloway, L. Violent America: The Movies 1946-64. New York: New York Graphic Society, 1971. Armes, Roy. French Cinema Since 1946 Vo l . 1. Great Tradi t ions . London: A Zwemmer L t d . , 1970. Armes, Roy. A C r i t i c a l History of the B r i t i s h Cinema. London: Seeker and Warberg, 1978. Ba l i o , Tino Ed. The American Film Industry. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1976. Barthes, Roland. Elements of Semiology. New York: H i l l and Wang, 1968. Bluestone, George. Novels into Fi lm. Berkeley: University of Ca l i fo rn ia Press, 1961. Borowitz, Eugene. Introduction to Religious Ex is tent ia l i sm. Phi ladelphia: Westminister Press, 1965. Bradbrook, M.C. S i r Thomas Malory. London: Longman's Green and Co., 1958. Campbell, Joseph, ed. Myths, Dreams, and Rel ig ion . New York: E.P. Dulton Inc. , 1970. 204', Cave l l , Stanley. The World Viewed. New York: The Viking Press, 1971. Cavendish, Richard. King Arthur and the G r a i l . London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1978. Cawelt i , John. The Six-Gun Mystique. Bowling Green: Bowling Green University Press, 1971. Dickey, James. Deliverance. New York. Del l Publishing Co. Inc . , 1970. Ear le, W.M. Ch r i s t i an i t y and Ex is tent ia l i sm. Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1963. F e l l , John. Film and the Narrative Trad i t ion . Oklahoma C i t y : University of Oklahoma Press, 1974. F i e l d , P . J . ed. Morte D'Arthur. London: Hoddart and Straughton, 1978. Fishwick, Marshal l . American Heroes: Myth and Rea l i ty . Washington: Public A f f a i r s Press, 19b4. Foucault, Michael. The Order of Things. New York: Pantheon Books, 1970. Fraser, S i r . James. The Golden Bough. London: MacMlllan and Co., 1911. French, Warren ed. The South and Fi lm. Jackson: University of M iss iss ipp i Press, 1981. Frye, Northrop. Anatomy of C r i t i c i s m . Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1937. Harcourt, Peter. Movies and Mythologies. Toronto: CBC Publ icat ions, 1975. Harley, N e i l . Theology Through Fi lm. New York: Harper & Row, 1970. Ja rv ie , I.C. Movies and Society. New York: Basic Books, 1970. Kael , Pauline. Reeling. Boston: L i t t l e Brown and Co., 1972. Kael , Pauline. I Lost It At The Movies. Boston: L i t t l e Brown and Co., 1972. Kael , Pauline. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Boston: L i t t l e Brown and Co., 1968. Kael , Pauline. Going Steady. Boston: L i t t l e Brown and Co., 1970. 205 Kapl in , E. Ann, ed. Women in Film Noir. London: B r i t i s h Film Inst i tu te , 1980. Kinder, Marsha. Close-up. New York: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, Inc. , 1972. Kracauer, S ieg f r ied . From Ca l igar i to H i t l e r . Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1957. Leyda, Jay, ed. Voices of Film Experiences. New York: MacMillan Publishing Co., 1977. Lubbock, Percy. The Craft of F i c t i o n . New York: The Viking Press, 1957. Mantarrasso, P. The Quest for the Holy G r a i l . London: Penguin Books, 1969. Macksey, R. and E. Donate The S t ruc tu ra l i s t Controversy. Baltimore: The John Hopkins Press, 1970. Mast, Gerald and Marshell Cohen. Film Theory and C r i t i c i s m . New York: Oxford University Press, 1974. McConnell, Frank D. The Spoken Seen: Film and the Romantic Imagination. Baltimore: University of Maryland Press, 19/b. Mellon, Joan, ed. The World of Luis Bunuel. New York: Oxford University Press, 1978. Monaco, James. The New Wave. New York: Oxford University Press, 1976. Nye, Russel. The Unembarrassed Muse: The Popular Arts in America. New York: Dial Press, 19/0. Pochoda, E l izabeth . Arthurian Propaganda. Chapel H i l l : University of Carolina Press, 197T: Pohl, F. and F. Pohl IV. Science F ic t ion Studies in F i lm. New York: Ace Books, 1977. P ra t t , George. Spellbound in Darkness. Greenich: New York Graphic Society, 1973. Rotha, Paul . The Film T i l Now. London: Spring Publishers Inc . , 1967. Sadoul, George. French Fi lm. New York: Aino Press, 1972. S a r r i s , Andrew. Confessions of a C u l t i s t : On The Cinema 1955-1969. New York: Simon and Shuster, 1970. 206 Sebesk, T. ; A.-Hayes; M. Bateson, ed. Approaches to Semiotics. The Hague: Morton, 1964. Shadoian, Jack. Dreams and Dead Ends. Cambridge: M.I.T. Press, 1977. Sher r i t , Stefan. Elements of Cinema: Towards A Theory of Cinematic  Impact. New YorK"! Columbia University Press, 1982. Sh ick le , Richard. Second Sight. New York: Simon and Shuster, 1972. Simon, John. Pr ivate Screenings. New York: MacMillan and Co., 1969. Simon, John. Reverse Angle: A Decade of American F i lm. New York: Clarkson Potter Inc . , 1973. Sk lar , Robert. Movie-Made America. Boston: L i t t l e Brown and Co., 1976. Smith, Ralph, ed. Aesthetics and C r i t i c i s m in Art Education. Chicago: Rond McNally, 19W7 Sontag, Susan. Against Interpretation and Other Essays. New York: Farrar , Straus and Giroux, 19bb. Sontag, Susan. Styles of Radical W i l l . New York: Farrar , Straus, and Giroux, 1969. Sparshott, F.E. The Structure of Aesthet ics. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1963. Suid, Lawrence. Guts and Glory: Great American War Movies. Boston: Addison-Wesley, 1978. Tyler , Parker. Magic and Myth of the Movies. New York: MacMillan, 1947. Vogel, Amos. Film As A Subversive Ar t . New York: Random House, 1974. Walker, Alexander. Hollywood, England. London: Michael Jospeh and Co., 1974. Warshaw, Robert. The Immediate Experience. New York: Atheneum, 1970. Wood, Michael. America in the Movies. New York: Del l Publishing Co. Inc . , 1978. Wollen, Peter. Signs and Meaning in the Cinema. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1969. Youngblood, Gene. Expanded Cinema. New York: E.P. Dutton, 1970. 207 FILMOGRAPHY A) Directed/Produced for B.B.C. Television (1962-65) Short (30 Minute) Documentaries/Dramas 1962 Wrestling at Colston Hal l 1962 The Concrete V is ion : New Fest ival Theatre, Chickester 1962 The Island That Se l l s I t s e l f : A Picture of Portland 1962 Man of Steam 1962 One in a Hundred 1962 The Globe Shrinkers 1962 The Big Str ide 1962 Angles and Degrees 1962 The Christmas Machine 1963 C i t i zen '63 1963 Six "Ays" to Saturday 1963 Film About Salisbury 1963 Honorable Retreat 1963 Granite Man 1963 Clay Man 1963 Fa i r Game 1963 Art by Design 1963 Paper Roots 1963 The Friendly Dragon 1964 The Quarry (drama; one hour) 1964 The Newcomers (drama se r ies ; one hour) 1964 One Man's county: Wi l tsh i re 1965 The Great Director : D.W. G r i f f i t h (one hour) B) Feature Films (1965-1981) "Having a Wild Weekend (1965) Screenplay by Peter Nichols ; directed by John Boorman; produced by David Deutsch; presented by Warner Brother P ictures ; running time 91 minutes. Steve Dave Clark Guy Robin Bailey Lenny Lenny Davidson Mike Mike Smith Louis David Lodge Beatnik Ron Lacey Dinah Barbara Ferr is Nan Yootha Joyce Rick Rick Huxley Denis Denis Payton Z i s s e l l David De Keyser Grey Hugh Walters 208 "Point Blank" (1966) Screenplay by Alexander Jacobs and David and Rate Newhouse. Based on the novel The Hunter by Richard Stark; directed by John Boorman; produced by Judd Bernard and Robert Chartoff; a Judd Bernard-Irwin Winkler production released by M.G.M; running time 92 minutes. Walker Lee Marvin Yost Keenan Wynn Frederick Carter .. Lloyd Bockner Mal Reese John Vernon Chris Angie Dickenson Brewster Car ro l l 0'Conner Stegman Michael Strong Lynne Sharon Acker "Leo the Last" (1970) Screenplay by B i l l S ta i r and John Boorman; directed by John Boorman; d i rector of photography Peter Suschitzky; music by Fred Myrow; produced by Irwin Winkler and Robert Chartoff; released by United A r t i s t s ; running time 103 minutes. Leo Marcello Mastroia Margaret B i l l i e Whitelaw Rosco Calvin Lockhart Max Graham Crowden Hilda Gwen Davies Kowalski Kenneth J . Warren Black Preacher Ram Holder Mrs. Madi Tina Solomon i Lazlo Vladek Sheybal Jasper Keefe West Salambo Glenna Forster Jones David David De Keyser Mrs. Kowalski Patsy Smart Mr. Madi Thomas Buson "Deliverance" (1972) Screenplay by James Dickey; directed by John Boorman; d i rector of photo-graphy, Vilmos Zsigmond; ed i to r , Tom P r ies t l ey ; produced by John Boorman; d is t r ibuted by Warner Bros; running time 109 minutes. Ed John Voight Bobby Ned Beatty Mountain Man B i l l y McKinney Sher i f f Bui lard . . . James Dickey Lonny B i l l y Redden Lewis Burt Reynolds Drew Ronny Cox Toothless Man Herbert Coward Old Man Ed Ramsey "Zardoz" (1973) Written, produced and directed by John Boorman; Associate Director , Charles Orme; photographed by Geoffrey Unsworth; edited by John M e r r i t t , released by 20th Century-Fox; running time 103 minutes. 209 Zed .Sean Connery May Sara Kestelman Friend John Alderton Consuella Charlotte Rampling Avalow Sal ly Anne Newton Arthur Frayn N i a l l Buggy "Exorcist I I : The Heretic" (1977) Screenplay by W i l l i an Goodhart; directed by John Boorman; produced by John Boorman and Richard Lederer; d i rector of photography, Will iam Fraker; ed i to r , Tom P r i e s t l e y ; music, Ennio Morricone; d is t r ibuted by Warner Bros. ; running time, 117 minutes. Regan Linda B l a i r Dr. Tuskin Louise Fletcher Ecumenical Edwards . Ned Beatty Father Lamont Father Merrin Kokumo Richard Burton Max Von Sydow James Earl Jones "Excal ibur" (1981) Screenplay by Rospo Pallenberg and John Boorman; produced and directed by John Boorman; adapted from Malory's "Le Morte D'Arthur" by Rospo Pa l len -berg; d i rector of photography, Alexander Thomson; f i l m ed i to r , John M e r r i t t ; music by, Trevor Jones; and Orion Pictures release through Warner Bros . ; running time, 140 minutes. King Arthur, Nigel Terry Lancelot Nicholas Clay Perceval Paul Geoffrey Mordred Richard Addie Urgens Keith Buckley Gawain Liam Neeson Morgana Helen Mirren Guinevere Cheri Lunghi Merl in Nicol Williamson Uther Gabriel Byrne Igraine Katrine Boorman 

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