Saturday, January 9, 2010

Heavy Metal

(Gerald Potterton, 1981)
It may be 'adult' up against the squeaky-clean Disney iconography that was even more hegemonic at the time, but it's also definitively juvenile. In fact the convergence of fantasy and (male) puberty is the governing theme. Superficially there's a trend toward Conan-in-space hormonorama, not my favourite sci fi subset to say the least. But all those muscled warriors are mutations, projections or supporting players to the geeks and losers who stand in for the stoned horndogs who are watching. The strategy works: instead of merely exploiting this strange, huge audience, the filmmakers bond with them, as though they had been there themselves. The animation is fluid and texturally interesting, and there's ample detail and wit in the playing as well. And since we're dealing with hormonal geeks here, there's a built-in excuse for all those iron-bosomed nude Amazons. In fact, by making one of those Amazons into a heroic (and mute) protagonist and putting a little girl at the centre of the connecting narrative, the film attains an appropriate degree of balance - they may not be allowed to speak, but at least they get to hang around the clubhouse. I'll even extend that clemency to the limp-wristed fag king - he's kind of funny, actually.

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