Sunday, July 25, 2010

Flash... Aaahhh!

Here I must tell you about one of my more indulgent film favorites. The Flash Gordon film from 1980 which I saw as a freshman in high school was billed as an adaptation of the original Flash Gordon comic strip, and I believe it stays truer to the comic book version than did the 1936 black and white movie serial. It remains in my book, and in my collection, a beloved cult classic.

Although some call it campy, you can tell that the film makers are fully aware of what they are doing. It is not a parody. Oh no. You might call it an all out celebration of the original comic strip. Everything is overdone - the acting, the colorful sets and costumes, the dialogue - but only within the acceptable parameters allowed in the world of comics. Even the silly jokes are just there for the darn fun of it. And if you had any doubts about my thesis, the final word is the soundtrack, which was written by 80's rock group Queen with the same serious gusto for the subject matter. The blog title is how the theme song begins - "Flash (aahhh!) Savior of the Universe!" - in full operatic chorus. It's just a fun film from start to finish.

I don't usually address comic book adaptations on this blog so why this one? Well, no one will deny the contribution that the original Flash Gordon serial from 1936 made to science fiction film history. Today all the crazy alien races from other planets featured in the series (Hawkmen, Sharkmen, etc.) would just be considered fantasy material, but at the time it was no crazier than many of the aliens encountered in sci-fi films today. I believe anyone who loves the genre as much as I do would fully appreciate and enjoy the tribute that this 1980 film pays to it, no matter how cheesy.

I've always liked Max Von Sydow. His role as Emperor Ming in this film is perfectly cast and played with such gusto. The same goes for the performance of none other than Topol (Fiddler on the Roof) in the role of Dr. Zarkov. I've always thought the opening scenes were reminiscent of H.G. Wells First Men in the Moon - with the hero, the damsel, and the scientist they meet taking off into space from his home laboratory. There's a whole group of really fun characters. But I think you just have sit down and watch it to really get what I'm talking about. If you do, please share your thoughts.

No comments:

Post a Comment