A NEO-PAGAN FILMOGRAPHY
An Annotated List
of Recommended Viewing
by Mike Nichols
Although this list is a long one, it could easily have been much
longer. In fact, the hard part was deciding which of many good movies had
to be left out, due to limitations of space. So I used a few rules to
guide me. First, I gave preference to movies that had a strong Pagan
message, as opposed to films that are 'merely' entertaining. Thus, a film
like 'Never Cry Wolf', though it has no supernatural elements, made the
list; whereas superbly crafted atmospheric entertainments like 'Gothic' and
'Eyes of Fire' didn't. Second, in dealing with the supernatural, I
concentrated on films that informed, or at least stayed within the realms
of possibility. Hence, I include 'The Haunting', but not 'Poltergeist'.
Inevitably, I will have left out some of your favorites, for which I
apologize in advance. But I had to stop somewhere.
APPRENTICE TO MURDER, 1988, C-94m
D: R.L. Thomas. Donald Sutherland, Chad Lowe, Mia Sara, Knut Husebo,
Intriguing fact-based story of a man who was a 'hex-meister' in the
Pennsylvania Dutch tradition. His practice of folk medicine lands him in
trouble with the law, and a final confrontation with a rival sorcerer leads
to a charge of murder. Sutherland is appealing in the lead role, and the
story unfolds mainly through his eyes. Mia Sara does a nice job in a
supporting role. There's a lot of authentic folk magic to lend atmosphere.
THE BELIEVERS, 1987, C-114m
D: John Schlesinger. Martin Sheen, Helen Shaver, Harley Cross, Robert
Loggia, Elizabeth Wilson, Lee Richardson, Harris Yulin, Richard Masur,
Carla Pinza, Jimmy Smits.
Afterthe death ofhis wife, Sheen andhis son moveto New York City,
where they become involved in a grisly series of cultish human sacrifices.
Although the religion of Santeria is unfortunately shown in a negative
light, there is enough authenticity to lend lots of interest. A gripping
BELL, BOOK, AND CANDLE, 1958, C-103m
D: Richard Quine. James Stewart, Kim Novak, Jack Lemmon, Ernie Kovaks,
Yes, I'm well aware that this movie, based on the John Van Druten
play, is responsible for more misinformation about Witchcraft than anything
outside the 'Bewitched' TV series. Still, I hardly know a Pagan who
doesn't love it. For many of us, it was the first time we'd encountered
the idea of Witchcraft alive and well in a modern metropolis. And Kim
Novak is STILL my idea of what a Witch OUGHT to look like. And none of us
will ever forget Kovak's reading of the line 'Witches, boy! Witches!' Or
Stewart's offhand comment that it feels more like Halloween than Christmas.
Lots of fun.
BROTHER SUN, SISTER MOON, 1973-Italian-British, C-121m
D: Franco Zeffirelli. Graham Faulkner, Judi Bowker, Leigh Lawson, Alec
Guinness, Valentina Cortese, Kenneth Cranham
For most Pagans, St. Francis of Assisi is usually considered an
honorary Pagan, at the very least. His insistence on finding divinity in
nature is exactly what Paganism is all about. This film biography portrays
his extreme love of and sensitivity to nature with poignant beauty. And
the musical score by Donovan is such a perfect choice that, having heard
it, nothing else would ever do. This is also a visually stunning film, as
those who remember Zefferelli's 'Romeo and Juliet' might expect. If ever
Christianity could be made palatable to the sensibilities of Neo-Pagans, it
would have to be through the eyes of a nature mystic like Francis. The
Catholic Church came close to naming him a heretic but, at the last minute,
the Pope (played by Alec Guinness) sanctioned him. (Old Obi Wan comes
BURN, WITCH, BURN!, 1962-British, 90m
D: Sidney Hayers. Janey Blair, Peter Wyngarde, Margaret Johnston, Anthony
Based on the Fritz Leiber classic 'Conjure Wife' and scripted by
Richard Matheson, this is an interesting view of Witchcraft. Granted, this
has as many misconceptions as 'Bell, Book, and Candle', yet the premise is
intriguing: that ALL women are secretly Witches, and ALL men don't know
about it. This is mainly about one woman's use of magic to advance the
career of her schoolteacher husband.
DARBY O'GILL AND THE LITTLE PEOPLE, 1959, C-93m
D: Robert Stevenson. Albert Sharpe, Janet Munro, Sean Connery, Jimmy
O'Dea, Kieron Moore, Estelle Winwood.
Simply the best fantasy ever filmed. No kidding. This is a PERFECT
little movie, and (along with 'The Quiet Man') the ultimate St. Patrick's
Day film. Sharpe is sensational as Darby O'Gill, who likes to sit in the
pub telling stories about his adventures with the King of the Leprechauns.
Unbeknownst to everyone, they are TRUE stories! Every tidbit of Irish
folklore, from banshees to the crock of gold to the costa bower (the death
coach) is worked into the plot. The music and songs are great. So is the
cast, many of whom were brought over from the Abbey Theater in Dublin!
Sean Connery makes his screen debut, in a SINGING role! The subsequent
untimely death of Janet Munro robbed the screen of one of its brightest
actresses. (Her character's combination of willfulness and femininity is a
textbook study. Compared to her, Princess Leia's character is not
'strong-willed' -- it's just snotty!) The special effects are miraculous
for 1959! When Darby walks into King Brian's throne room, we walks THROUGH
a crowd of Leprechauns, and I defy anyone to find a matte line! In fact,
the special effects are so good throughout, that you FORGET that they're
special effects, and end up deciding that they must have rounded up some
real Leprechauns from somewhere.
THE DARK CRYSTAL, 1983-British, C-94m
D: Jim Henson and Frank Oz. Performed by Jim Henson, Kathryn Mullen, Frank
Oz, Dave Goelz, Brian Muehl, Jean Pierre Amiel, Kiran Shaw.
The creators of the Muppets come up with an entire fantasy world,
where even the flora and fauna are original. And this world is in grave
peril unless the missing shard of the Dark Crystal can be found and
restored to it. This is a hero-quest in the classic mold, with art
stylings by Brian Froud. Although wonderfully imaginative and
entertaining, it has a very strong message of mysticism, all about
universal balance and the synthesis of opposites. (One wonders if the
entire quartz crystal fad of the late 1980's had its origins here!)
DON'T LOOK NOW, 1973-British, C-110m
D: Nicolas Roeg. Julie Christie, Donald Sutherland, Hilary Mason, Clelia
Matania, Massimo Serato.
Based ona so-so occultthriller by Daphnedu Maurier, thisbecomes a
brilliant film in the hands of Italian director Nicolas Roeg (famed for
'The Man Who Fell to Earth). Shortly after their daughter has drowned,
Sutherland (who restores mosaics in old churches) and his wife go to Venice
where they meet two sisters who are spiritualists. They begin to receive
messages from the daughter, who keeps warning Sutherland to leave Venice
because he is in mortal danger. If ever a film captured the real feeling
of how psychic ability operates, this is it. The use of subjective
editing, and the symbolic use (and total control of!) color throughout the
film is masterful. (This film also contains one of the most stylish love
scenes ever filmed.) Squeamish people need to be warned about the violent
THE DUNWICH HORROR, 1970, C-90m
D: Daniel Haller. Sandra Dee, Dean Stockwell, Ed Begley, Sam Jaffe, Lloyd
Bochner, Joanna Moore, Talia Coppolia (Shire).
Nice adaptation of an H. P.Lovecraft story, with a wonderfulcast.
Stockwell is the quintessential ritual magician, both mysterious and
compelling. He steals the original 'Necronomicon' from a library in order
to 'bring back the Old Ones', a race of powerful but dark beings that
inhabited the earth before humans. Sam Jaffe is wonderful as his crazed
grandfather. (What happened to the father is part of the mystery!) And
Sandra Dee is perfect as the innocent virgin chosen to be the unwilling
host mother for the rebirth of these demons. (Some versions of the film
cut the last scene short, which shows a developing fetus superimposed over
Dee's abdomen. 'Nuff said.) By the way, no film has ever shown the raw
power of otherworldly beings as well as this. No 'latex lovelies' here.
Just pure, unadulterated elemental force. Nice job!
THE EMERALD FOREST, 1985, C-113m
D: John Boorman. Powers Boothe, Meg Foster, Charley Boorman, Dira Pass.
A look atour ownculture through theeyes of theaboriginal tribesof
the Amazon. (They call us the 'termite people', because of the
deforestation and industrial development we have brought to their
homeland.) The director's son, Charley, is totally convincing as a young
boy raised by aborigines. Great music by Junior Homrich.
THE ENTITY, 1983, C-115m
D: Sidney J. Furie. Barbara Hershey, Ron Silver, Jacqueline Brooks, David
Lablosa, George Coe, Margaret Blye.
The trulyfrightening thing about thismovie is that it'sbased on a
true story, about a woman who is repeatedly violently raped by an invisible
presence. Initially, she seeks the help of a psychologist, who is a strict
behaviorist and thinks that it is all 'in her mind'. It is not until a
chance encounter with a team of parapsychologist from the local university
that she finally finds people who understand her problem. One of the
film's great strengths is its portrayal of the professional rivalry that
develops between the psychologist (who has begun taking a personal
interest) and the parapsychologists, who are interested in investigating
the phenomena. The final scene in the gymnasium is the only part of the
film based on speculation only. At last report, the case was still active.
EXCALIBUR, 1981-British, C-140m
D: John Boorman. Nicol Williamson, Nigel Terry, Helen Mirren, Nicholas
Clay, Cherie Lunghi, Corin Redgrave, Paul Geoffrey.
A stylish adaptationof ThomasMalory's 'Le MorteD'Arthur'. Boorman
knew exactly what he was doing in combining certain key characters and
keeping the spirit of the legends. The Grail Quest is especially well
handled. Williamson's Merlin and Mirren's Morgana are both brilliant
performances. Great music. Try to see this one on the big screen.
HARVEY, 1950, 104m
D: Henry Koster. James Stewart, Josephine Hull, Peggy Dow, Charles Drake,
Cecil Kellaway, Victoria Horne, Jesse White, Wallace Ford, Ida Moore.
Imagine a movie that chooses as its main theme a Welsh animal spirit
called a pooka (or 'pwcca' in Welsh)! That would be improbable enough by
today's standards. But the fact that it happened in a 1940's Pulitzer
Prize-winning play and subsequent movie boggles the mind! The pooka in
question is a 6-foot invisible rabbit named Harvey, who manifests himself
only to a gentle tippler named Elwood P. Dowd, played to perfection by
Stewart. Jesse White (the lonely Maytag repairman) made his film debut
here. Few movies are as much fun as this.
THE HAUNTING, 1963, 112m
D: Robert Wise. Julie Harris, Claire Bloom, Richard Johnson, Russ Tamblyn,
Lois Maxwell, Fay Compton
Based on ShirleyJackson's masterpiece 'TheHaunting of HillHouse',
this is probably the ultimate ghost movie. A parapsychologist and a team
of student assistants investigate a haunted house. Based on the premise
that no ghost ever hurts anyone physically; the damage is always done by
the victim to himself, psychologically. Julie Harris is marvelous.
INHERIT THE WIND, 1960, 127m
D: Stanley Kramer. Spencer Tracy, Fredric March, Gene Kelly, Florence
Eldridge, Dick York, Harry Morgan, Donna Anderson, Elliot Reid, Claude
Akins, Noah Beery, Jr., Norman Fell.
This should be required viewing for every Pagan. For many of us,
there came a time when our own ideologies simply collided head-on with
fundamental Christian faith, and we knew we could no longer accept it.
Never has a movie embodied this theme so well. Based on the play by Jerome
Lawrence and Robert E. Lee, it deals with the Scopes Monkey Trial of 1925
in Tennessee, where a high school teacher was arrested for teaching
Darwin's Theory of Evolution. The debate that ensued was between two of
the most brilliant minds of their day, the great trial lawyer Clarence
Darrow for the defense, and two-time Presidential candidate William
Jennings Bryan for the prosecution. Kelly's character is based on
acid-tongued columnist H. L. Mencken. This is riveting, from first to
JONATHAN LIVINGSTON SEAGULL, 1973, C-120m
D: Hal Bartlett. Many seagulls.
Although the film is flawed and drags a little toward the end, it is
nevertheless well worth seeing. The photography is beautiful, and Neil
Diamond's score (including 'Skybird') is marvelous. It is, of course,
based on Richard Bach's marvelous tale of a little seagull that refuses to
fit in with his flock, preferring to follow a higher, more mystical,
calling. This is yet another one you should try to see on the big screen.
LADYHAWKE, 1985, C-124m
D: Richard Donner. Matthew Broderick, Rutger Hauer, Michelle Pfeiffer, Leo
McKern, John Wood, Ken Hutchison, Alfred Molina.
Whoever decidedon themusic for thisfilm should beshot! Think what
a nice soundtrack by Clannad would have been like. That reservation aside,
this is a great medieval fantasy concerning two lovers who have been
separated by a curse, and a young thief who becomes their ally, an unusual
but charming role for Matthew Broderick. (If anyone ever gets around to
filming Katherine Kurtz's 'Deryni' books, this is the team that ought to do
THE LAST UNICORN, 1982, C-84m
D: Rankin & Bass. Voices of Mia Farrow, Alan Arkin, Jeff Bridges, Tammy
Grimes, Robert Klein, Angela Lansbury, Christopher Lee.
Based on theincomparable fantasy novel by PeterS. Beagle, this is
very adult animation. And because Beagle himself wrote the screenplay,
this film contains spiritual one-liners that hit you right in the gut.
Example: 'Never run from anything immortal. It attracts their attention.'
Though this is NOT classic Disney animation (in fact, it looks like limited
animation), the voice-work, screenplay, and art stylings are all so good,
you're inclined to overlook it. Angela Lansbury's character voice for
Mommy Fortuna is marvelous. And there's a lovely lyrical score by the
THE LAST WAVE, 1977-Australian, C-106m
D: Peter Weir. Richard Chamberlain, Olivia Hamnett, (David) Gulpilil,
Frederick Parslow, Vivean Gray, Nanjiwarra Amagula.
Chamberlainplays anAustralian lawyerdefending anaborigine accused
of a murder that was actually done by magic. This is a rare and wonderful
glimpse into the tribal religion of the native Australians, their myths,
and their belief in the Dream Time. Peter Weir (famed for 'Picnic at
Hanging Rock') directs this atmospheric thriller.
LEGEND, 1985-British, C-89m
D: Ridley Scott. Tom Cruise, Mia Sara, Tim Curry, David Bennent, Alice
Playten, Billy Barty.
Oneof the mostvisually luscious filmsever created. Every frame is
gorgeous. The plot is nearly archetypal, with evil (Curry) attempting to
seduce innocence (Sara). Though it's hard to accept Cruise as the hero of
this Grimm's-like fairy tale, Curry and Sara turn in good performances.
The European version runs 20 minutes longer and retains the original (and,
in my opinion, superior) musical score by Jerry Goldsmith. The American
score is by Tangerine Dream.
THE LORD OF THE RINGS, 1978, C-133m
D: Ralph Bakshi. Voices of Christopher Guard, William Squire, John Hurt,
Michael Sholes, Dominic Guard.
This ambitious but flawed animated feature covers half of J.R.R.
Tolkien's fantasy trilogy, ending much too abruptly. But for all the
criticism usually heaped upon this film, there ARE moments of absolute
genius. Such as the Dark Riders attempting to kill Frodo and friends in
their beds at the Prancing Pony Inn. Or Gandalf and Frodo's moonlit walk
through the Shire. Or the first time Frodo puts on the ring. These
moments alone make the movie well worth seeing.
NEVER CRY WOLF, 1983, C-105m
D: Carroll Ballard. Charles Martin Smith, Brian Dennehy, Zachary
Ittimangnaq, Samson Jorah.
A brilliant performance by Smith (based on author Farley Mowat) as a
young man sent to study wolves in the Arctic. Again, we are treated to the
insights of the native culture (the Innuit), and are shown how it has been
debased through contact with our own greedy culture. This film contains
some of the most spectacular nature photography ever put on film. Ballard
was chief nature photographer for Disney Studios for years. Try to see
this one on the big screen.
NOSFERATU THE VAMPYRE, 1979-West German, C-107m
D: Werner Herzog. Klaus Kinski, Isabelle Adjani, Bruno Ganz, Roland Topor.
Forvampire lovers, this film isthe creme de lacreme. Werner Herzog
is a leader of modern German Expressionist cinema, and here he is operating
at the top of his form. The spooky atmosphere is so thick you could peel
it off the screen in layers. (Try to see this one in the theater.) The
creepiness of Kinski's Dracula is equaled only by the classic beauty of
Adjani's Lucy. This is the perfect film for Halloween night. The German
language version with English subtitles is far superior to the English
version, and slightly longer. (The SOUND of the German dialogue actually
fits the mood of the film better.)
ON A CLEAR DAY YOU CAN SEE FOREVER, 1970, C-129m
D: Vincente Minnelli. Barbra Streisand, Yves Montand, Bob Newhart, Larry
Blyden, Simon Oakland, Jack Nicholson. Alan Lerner & Burton Lane score.
Probablyinspired by the case of BrideyMurphy, this musical is all
about hypnosis, past life regression, ESP, reincarnation, and other 'New
Age' topics (though 20 years too early). (One wonders how Shirley MacLaine
missed starring in this. Yet, one is thankful for small favors.)
Streisand is wonderful, especially in the lavish flashback sequences.
Montand should have been replaced. Still, the plot's surprising turns are
well within the realm of supernatural possibility.
THE SERPENT AND THE RAINBOW, 1988, C-98m
D: Wes Craven. Bill Pullman, Cathy Tyson, Zakes Mokae, Paul Winfield,
Brent Jennings, Theresa Merritt, Michael Gough.
Directed by Wes Craven (famed for his 'Nightmare on Elm Street'
series), this is the true story of Wade Davis, an ethnobotanist who is sent
to Haiti to bring back the secret of the so-called Zombie drug,
tetrodotoxin. But the local practitioners of 'Voodoo' don't yield their
secrets too easily and, before it's all over, Davis finds himself a victim
of the drug -- which gives Craven carte blanche for the wonderful special
effects he's famous for. Like 'The Believers', this film unfortunately
shows the native religion (Voudoun) primarily in a negative light. Still,
at times it manages to capture its beauty, mystery and innocence,
especially in the festival scenes when the entire village spends the night
asleep in a candle-lighted forest.
7 FACES OF DR. LAO, 1964, C-100m
D: George Pal. Tony Randall, Barbara Eden, Arthur O'Connell, John Ericson,
Kevin Tate, Argentina Brunetti, Noah Beery, Jr., Minerva Urecal, John
Qualen, Lee Patrick, Royal Dano.
For people who think that decent fantasy films are a recent
development, this movie is going to come as a delightful surprise. The
special effects and gentle magic of director George Pal was the perfect
means of bringing the Charles Finney classic 'The Circus of Dr. Lao' to the
screen. Randall, in a tour de force performance of six roles, is the
mysterious Chinese guru, Dr. Lao, whose travelling circus changes the
course of history for a small Western town. For the better. A lovely and
funny film with a spiritual dimension that would appeal to every Pagan.
Nice musical score by Leigh Harline combines Western and Oriental music.
SILENT RUNNING, 1971, C-89m
D: Douglas Trumbull. Bruce Dern, Cliff Potts, Ron Rifkin, Jesse Vint.
Should be subtitled 'Druidsin Spaaaaace!!!' Aboard thedeep space
ship Valley Forge, the very talented Bruce Dern (in his most likable film
role ever) battles to save the last vestiges of the Earth's forests.
Special effects by the team that created '2001'. And a brilliant musical
score by Peter Schickele (whose better-known comic persona is P.D.Q. Bach),
sung by Joan Baez.
SLEEPING BEAUTY, 1959, C-75m
D: Clyde Geronimi. Voices of Mary Costa, Bill Shirley, Elinor Audley,
Verna Felton, Barbara Jo Allen, Barbara Luddy.
The all-time masterpiece of the animator's art, this is the most
lavish and most expensive (by contemporary standards) animated feature ever
done by Disney studios. The uninitiated may babble about 'Fantasia', but
the true cognoscente of animation know that THIS is the apogee of the art
form. From the lush color stylings (heavy use of greens and purples), to
the elegantly stylized backgrounds, to the figure of Maleficent (designed
by Marc Davis), to a fire-breathing dragon that wasn't equaled until
'Dragonslayer', this film is superb. Voice work by Audley and Felton is
outstanding. The film should also serve as a textbook example of how to
adapt a classical score (Tchaikovsky's 'Sleeping Beauty Ballet') to a movie
soundtrack. Never has it been done better. See it. One last
consideration: this was filmed in the extra-wide-screen Technerama process,
and naturally loses a lot when transferred to video. Try to see this in a
theater. One with a BIG screen and a state-of-the-art sound system. You
will be amazed.
SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES, 1983, C-94m
D: Jack Clayton. Jason Robards, Jonathan Pryce, Diane Ladd, Pam Grier,
Royal Dano, Shawn Carson, Vidal Peterson, Mary Grace Canfield, James Stacy,
narrated by Arthur Hill.
RayBradbury's fantasy novel is brought tothe screen by a director
who understands it. This is a mood piece, and it's done to perfection. It
all takes place in that strange twilight halfway between children's
make-believe and the world of the supernatural. You're never quite sure
which it is. Jonathan Pryce is utterly mesmerizing as the sinister Mr.
Dark, leader of a mysterious travelling carnival. He has so much screen
presence you can barely take your eyes off him. I haven't seen an actor in
such total control of a role since Gene Wilder did 'Willy Wonka'. An added
bonus is that Bradbury himself wrote the screenplay, and it shows. It's a
real cut above the insipid screenplays we're all used to.
STAR WARS, 1977, C-121m
D: George Lucas. Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Peter Cushing,
Alec Guinness, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, voice of James Earl Jones (as
Despite the spaceships and high-tech doodads, this is really more
fantasy than science fiction. And the reliance which director George Lucas
placed in the theories of Joseph Campbell help shape a story that is very
near to myth. The other two movies in the trilogy, 'The Empire Strikes
Back' and 'Return of the Jedi' are also important. The main interest to
most Pagans lies in the mystical sub-motif of 'the Force', a kind a 'mana'
that is ethically neutral, but may be used in magic for either good (as
evidenced by Obi Wan Kenobe) or evil (as evidenced by Darth Vader). In the
second film, it is the great Jedi Master, Yoda (created by Muppet masters,
Jim Henson and Frank Oz), who teaches us most about the Force. This is
THE WATCHER IN THE WOODS, 1980, C-84
D: John Hough. Bette Davis, Carroll Baker, David McCallum, Lynn-Holly
Johnson, Kyle Richards, Ian Bannen, Richard Pasco.
What I wouldn't giveto have seen thisas a teenager! Johnson stars
as a girl whose family has just rented an old English country house, where
she is haunted by the image of a young girl who disappeared years ago.
During a strange seance-type initiation ritual. In the ruins of an old
chapel. During a freak lightning storm. During an eclipse. The subtext
is so thick you could cut it with a knife. Even though such elements
remain unstated, for those of us interested in power points, ley lines, and
astronomical alignments, this movie is a real treat. Someone Knew
Something! Sadly, the end is badly flawed. But no matter, because the fun
is in the getting there. A delightful cast, and great atmosphere
throughout, make this film special.
THE WICKER MAN, 1973-British, C-95m
D: Robin Hardy. Edward Woodward, Christopher Lee, Britt Ekland, Diane
Cilento, Ingrid Pitt, Lindsay Kemp.
Based on the Anthony Shaffer thriller,this movie is a favorite of
most Pagans. The plot concerns a police sergeant (Woodward) sent to
investigate the disappearance of a young girl, on a small island off the
coast of Scotland. There he finds a completely Pagan society. Local color
and beautiful folk music enhance the most loving portrayal of a Pagan
society ever committed to film. Unfortunately, in the end, the Pagans are
'revealed' to be the requisite bad guys. If you can overlook the ending,
however, this is fine movie. Every Pagan I know who's seen it wants to
move to Summer Isle immediately.
WILLOW, 1988, C-125m
D: Ron Howard. Val Kilmer, Joanne Whalley, Warwick Davis, Jean Marsh,
Patricia Hayes, Billy Barty, Pat Roach, Gavan O'Herlihy.
Despitethe story byGeorge Lucas, thisis NOT the'Star Wars' of the
fantasy genre. Too derivative (especially Mad Martigan, who is a Han Solo
clone). Still, the film has a lot to say about magic, and Davis gives a
delightful performance. Jean Marsh is terrific as the evil Queen Bavmorda
(in a role that almost parallels her role as Queen Mombi in 'Return to
Oz'). And the scene in which Chirlindrea appears to Willow in the forest
is as close to an epiphany of the Goddess as I've ever seen on film. That
scene alone is worth the admission price.
WINDWALKER, 1980, C-108m
D: Keith Merrill. Trevor Howard, Nick Ramus, James Remar, Serene Hedin,
Dusty Iron Wing McCrea.
This is the best cowboy-and-Indian movie I've ever seen. Mainly
because there are no cowboys in it. It is pure Native American. Trevor
Howard is incredible as the old Indian chief who returns from the dead in
order to protect his family, and restore to it a lost son, a twin who was
stolen at birth by an enemy tribe. This film FEELS more like genuine
Native American than any other I can think of. The Utah mountain scenery
is breath-taking. Costuming (mostly furs) is authentic. And dialogue is
actually in the Cheyenne and Crow languages, with English subtitles. And
there's enough mysticism (especially in the old Indian's relationship with
his horse) to please any Pagan audience.
WIZARDS, 1977, C-80m
D: Ralph Bakshi. Voices of Bob Holt, Jesse Wells, Richard Romanus, David
Proval, Mark Hamill.
Post-holocaust scenario withthe forcesof evil technologyled bythe
wizard Blackwolf arrayed against the forces of benevolent magic led by the
wizard Avatar. With background stylings a la Roger Dean, and character
design that borrows from Vaughn Bode, this is tongue-in-cheek wizardry at
its finest. The character of Elinor, a faery nymph, is a complete success
-- a milestone in adult animation. Great voice work and nice music. And
who is that wonderful (uncredited) narrator???
XANADU, 1980, C-88m
D: Robert Greenwald. Olivia Newton-John, Michael Beck, Gene Kelly, James
Sloyan, Dimitra Arliss, Katie Hanley.
Yeah, yeah, I know. On one level, it's just Olivia Newton-John on
roller-skates. But on another level, it is the story of how one of the
nine muses of classical mythology (Terpsichore) comes down from Olympus to
inspire a young artist. On yet a third level, it is the biggest Hollywood
musical produced since the golden years of MGM. And it works well on all
counts. The brilliant musical score (including several chart-toppers) is
provided by the Electric Light Orchestra's Jeff Lynne, and Olivia does them
up proper. Gene Kelly might not dance as well as he once did, but he can
still charm as well. And did anyone notice that's Sandahl Bergman leading
the muses in dance? As if that weren't enough, the film includes a
delightful animated segment that marked the debut for Don Bluth studios,
which later gave us 'The Secret of NIHM' and 'An American Tail'.
Next: Candlemas (Gwydion)