Sunday, February 24, 2008

When Mediation Goes Bad

Probably the main career I've had in my uninspiring life so far involved dressing up as a giant elf in a badly-thought out costume meant to look traditional rather than logical, and sit in the toy department of a shop and try to be nice through false beards, wigs and makeup. It's not easy, especially as no one seems to think that someone dressed to cope with the climate of the North Pole might find an Australia shopping centre a tad warm and change their clothing accordingly.

Thus I struggled to sit perfectly still (on many occasions startling a customer who assumed I was some kind of prop... heh, Auton Fun - don't underestimate!), so as not to produce unnecessary body heat. Often there would be no customers to talk to and conversation with my photographer was made difficult as I had to stick in character, plus the beard. Entertainment comprised of endlessly repeated cartoons or movies sans volume (I've seen Monsters Inc. and Madagascar 72 times each, not once with sound), leading the mind to wander...



And so, deprived of all but the most basic outside stimulus, my thoughts turn inwards, ideally avoiding all those parts of my memory that would depress me to tears (and there are plenty of those). And my mind uncovers something I forgot I forgot... Fillini's Satyricon!

My latest mediation started with The Goodies episodes good friend Jared sent me (mingled with mild annoyance he'd taped over the same episode I had taped over: Frankenfido), and more importantly the extended version of The Movies, an episode where the Goodies buy British Film Studios in order to revitalize the genre from pretentious and tedious films that were clogging up the place.

I remember the sequence where Tim has a go at the unseen producers mainly because it was singled out for complaint on Backchat (remember that? When the ABC listened to complaints?) from some rabid Fillini fan.

"What we have seen has been either very tedious or extremely pretentious - and in some cases BOTH and I AM looking at you, Fillini. You can't get a sad faced clown and a bunch of bald dwarves together and expect to win the Cannes Film Festival! Yes, I know you DID, but that's not the point!"

Anyway, apart from some confused impression that Fillini was a woman, and more the point one of the words Monty Python decreed never to be shown on British televison ever again, I thought little of this Italian film maker.

One night, I forget when, I was channel surfing before going to bed. I saw what seemed to be a remake of Theseus and the Minotaur on SBS and, having a soft spot for the Greek classics after seven years of being told about them in my Greek language class by Mrs. Harralumbous, decided to watch it.

I was gobsmacked therefore to spot that "Theseus" was none other than Martin Potter - AKA Robin Hood! And you can believe me that Martin Potter is not a bloke easily forgotten, particularly the fact he's a handsome bloke with deep, burning eyes. I wish there was some way to describe his eyes without coming across as a drooling Rickitophile, but try and find him on youtube or, simply, watch Terminus. His eyes are like that. There is no other way to describe that.

(One of the biggest and worst issues I have with JNT is how he wasted Potter as Eirak, a character who gets less screen time with Peter Davison than Lytton did, but at least he didn't need makeup bar that fake Vanir wig. Anyone vaguely interested will know that I recast Azmael in my Twin Dilemma rewrite as Potter, in the firm belief he could portray the guy who inspired the Doctor to rebel.)

Since I have only ever seen Potter in two things (Robin Hood and Doctor Who), I was understandably surprised and decided to watch the film. The sound was slightly out of sync to the point it seemed dubbed (after all, SBS shows The Gods Must Be Crazy dubbed from English to Chinese with English subtitles), but might be some twisted 'Passions of the Christ put everything in the proper language' vibe.

Potter plays Ecolpious, (the modern translation would be "Dick") who has somehow fallen foul of a hedonistic ancient society and thrown into the maze with the Minotaur. This movie is set before the Birth of Christ, in an incredibly debauched and post-apocalyptic period following an Earthquake, where the decadence has been crank up to a point reality itself seems to be crumbling... or maybe that's just Fillini being freaky.

With the omnipresent howl of desert winds throughout the film, Ecolpy finds his way out of the maze onto a barren plain beside a city where the inhabitants chant in a vaguely ape like fashion and shine mirrors at him. Watching this, I assumed what I was looking at was the denoument - like Lord of the Rings or the Body Electric, as our hero discovers the horrific truth. In this case the pack of utter psychos eager to see him disembowelled by the Minotaur (whose face is disturbing like the Calliech).

Falling to his knees, Ecolpy points out that he's not cut out for fighting the Minotaur to the death, and all in all, the cowman should try and find someone worthy of beating the shit out of. Then, the Mintoaur pulls off its head to reveal a big cheerful bloke who is so impressed with Ecolpy's patter he allows him to live.

This causes the crowds to go wild. In a good way.

Ecolpy is baffled by this twist of fate, as much as I am, and is lead to a temple. A fucking huge temple. One of those places so huge you just look at the walls and go "Wow, that is one big room!" It's so big that the huge amount of people present hang around one corner.

It seems that Ecolpy has won the right to do the Mummy and Daddy Dance with the King's daughter, and our sweaty, incredibly tanned and ridiculous blonde wig wearing hero meats similarly hot and sweaty women. But nothing happens. A lot. Finally it becomes obvious this is no artistic statement but Ecolpy has somehow become impotent after nearly getting killed by a faux Minotaur!

Tough, as they say, break.

Ecolpy's shaky grip on reality (or maybe my shaky grip on the plot) snaps and we find our way segueing into an urban legend. Apparently, some time ago, a geeky loser wizard fell in love with a princess and tried to seduce her. She played along, then dumped him in public. His revenge was, to say the least, novel. He triggered a permanent midnight, forcing civilization to come to him for some kind of light (since, being a wizard and all, this stopped fires from burning). The wizard ultimately revealed he had hidden the sun inside the princess, and only a qualified gynaecologist could get it back. Or a bunch of angry farmers with unlit torches rammed ironically where the sun DID shine.

Well, the moral presumably is do not piss off sexually frustrated wizards unless you like sitting in stirrups for the rest of your life. Good message for the kids there.

Ecolpy rises to the forefront of the plot again and demands to know what the hell this has to do with anything?! He is told that basically the princess is the one woman that could get his mojo back, and so Ecolpy engages on this quest to find the lady with fire inside her. As you do.

The princess, I must be blunt, has let herself go.

A lot.

Jabba the Hutt-style a lot.

Nevertheless, it seems she is resigned to her fate as some cosmic viagra and is not at all surprised when a fit young traveller with burning eyes turns up, but simply... as Billy Connoly would describe it... violates him. And what would you know, it works! Maybe because Ecolpy's survival instinct kicks in and cures his impotence so he can get out of there as soon as he can?

Ecolpy runs out into the wilderness outside (seriously the empty desert winds follow this guy everywhere), exhuberant and not at all taken aback by a wierd thing growing out of the ground like a giant talon crossbred with 2001's monolith. He is, however, a bit put out when his pal is found lying dead in the grass beside it. What killed him? Beats me. Then the sky goes dark.

We end with the funeral of Ecolpy's pal, who has been wrapped up like a mummy and placed on a plinth on the shore of a beach surrounded by wierd upright coffins. Ecolpy and a gang watch on as the priest reads the deceased's will: he will give his vast fortune to anyone who eats his corpse raw.

All the mourners immediately go nuts and start sharpening the knives and unwrapping the corpse. Ecolpy and his friends realize the dead guy's finally proved what utter scum the rest of the Roman Empire are, as they are reduced to eating a rather smelly corpse in the hope of getting some cash. Amused at this Chaser Style Stunt, Ecolpy and the others decide to leave their "civilized" bedfellows to their uncooked cannibalism...

And then in mid stride Ecolpy transforms into a mural of himself on a ruined temple wall in Italy, 1969 (a very impressive shot). It's a rather bittersweet ending, and I sometimes like to think a similar ending could have cheered up The Legend of Robin Hood. Well, cheered ME up. Maybe.

The end.

Amazing what your mind can throw up at you when you're not expecting it, huh?

I might try and find the rest of Satyricon, since I can't download it, but unless SBS screens it again very publically, I'll probably miss it. Mind you, I checked the trailer on youtube and it scared the shit out of me.

Sundays bring out the contemplative within me, I apologize.

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