Aden Ray has killed his mother and taken off to the desert with a suitcase full of jewels. It is there, out in the middle of nowhere, that Aden meets the diminutive Marvel, a simple primitive man with keen magical insight into nature and a compete naiveté about he civilized world. Still pursued by the police, Aden takes Marvel into the city where Marvel is exposed to the modern world and all of its ills and Aden confronts his own inner demons.
The second film by surrealist Fernando Arrabal, following up and continuing the controversial style of his first film Viva La Muerte. I Will Walk Like a Crazy Horse (1973 aka. I Will Go Like a Wild Horse) is the surrealist odyssey one would expect from the writer of Alejandro Jodorowsky's Fando and Lis and co-founder of the "PANIC" theater movement.
I Will Walk Like a Crazy Horse is an unpenitent metaphorical assault blatantly pounding home its ideals of the corruption of Civilization Vs. Nature, plenty of religious imagery, and a strong Oedipal plot involving Aden and his mother. And typical of surrealism, it elicited controversy for some grotesque imagery (castration, cannibalism). It comes from the original school of surrealist thought which was to be as perverse and provocative as one could be. Whereas someone like Ingmar Bergman could often be sly and understated or David Lynch dark and mysterious in their respective surrealist leanings, Arrabal belongs more to the Jodorowsky and Luis Bunuel school of hammering home ideas and rattling their viewers instead of slipping under their skin. Call it- Razor to the Eyeball Surrealism.
And, as I said, it is all told fairly obviously and in easy to understand metaphorical images, which is both a blessing and a curse. One can make the argument that Arrabal comes off as a bit preachy and too simple (the urban, corrupted, handsome, wealthy man contrasted by the dwarflike dirty, innocent simpleton) , yet, his quick pacing and constant assault makes the hour and a half film feel epic. So, if you are a surrealist fan, a surrealistic thinker, there is the admirable fact that there is plenty to look and ponder and the more downtrodden fact that it is probably simple enough that you'll be saying "Yes, I get the point." over and over again.
I am a big lover of surrealism and more abstract thinking is an inherent part of my nature. In high school, I failed a big art project on surrealism because I refused to do the final part which was show your painting and then describe its meaning to the class. I take the stand that my work/or any art is not for me/the artist to describe, that "it is what it is" and it is for the viewer to decide the meaning. Like I said, I think Arrabal's intent is pretty clear, but instead of dissecting it, I'll just state some of the imagery, some of the sequences and leave it at that... -While Aden describes how great the city is, cut to the camera panning up two naked bodies making love, but when it reaches their heads, they are both wearing gas masks. –Aden shows Marvel his suitcase of jewels and explains, "With money you can have anything you want." Marvel replies, "Love? Happiness? Health? Does it make milk like goats?" and then feeds his beloved goat some jewels –As they drive into the city, they pass under gallows with hanging skeletons. -When it rains Marvel uses an umbrella to catch the water instead of shield himself from it. –While Aden goes into his home to resolve his mother issues (which involves his dressing in women's underwear and giving birth to a skull), the unassuming Marvel is put into a sideshow as an attraction where he dances in boxers to go-go music.- When Aden gets shot and they find refuge in a barn, it quick cuts to some Jesus in the manger imagery where the Christ child is replaced by Mary and Joseph standing over a crib full of cash.
The DVD: CAV
Picture: Anamorphic Widescreen. Looks fantastic for a 30 plus yr old foreign film. They secured a relatively clean and uncut print. While it is a little grainy, has some dirt and lines, slightly dull contrast, such things are expected given the films age. Overall it is in great shape with satisfying color and sharpness and cinephiles should be pleased with the presentation.
Sound: French Mono with optional English subtitles. Once again, in pretty good shape considering the age. Typical of the time, it is a simple mix and like many Euro features the dialogue was all dubbed. No horrible distortions, pops, or drop-off on the dialogue, fx, and music soundtracks. Subtitle translation is great, and aside from going a tad fast here and there, no complaints.
Extras: Chapter Selections--- German Lobby Card Gallery--- Trailer for Arrabal's Viva La Muerte--- Interview with director/writer Fernando Arrabal (14:30). Arrabal discusses his casting, how he feels about his place in society, his love of cockroaches, and explains that "I ask questions. I don't give answers, because I don't know anything." And, in great offbeat fashion, while taking about some personal mysteries in life, the interview is interrupted by the telephone ringing, to which Arrabal quickly smiles, "God is calling me. I have to go talk to God.", which he then jokingly does.
Conclusion: Well, if you are any sort of surrealist fan- it is not a genre all people can digest- and you enjoy the works of directors like Werner Herzog, Luis Bunuel, Peter Greenaway, and Jodorowsky, then this feature is perfect and the transfer really satisfies. Some of its graphic nature may have dulled over time, some not, and it is a bit heavy handed, but it still holds up as an interesting work for those open to the distinctive surrealist storytelling style.