Sunday, January 29, 2006

Atomic War Bride (1960)

"They say it's a small world nowadays -- everybody moves around, planes and boats and trains help the whole world to make friends. Only it's no use. It doesn't do any good." With that line of dialogue about twenty minutes in, it becomes clear that this movie is not to be taken lightly. Up to that point, the film is an odd blend of light human drama and dark political satire. It involved a young man who is about to head across town to get married when he hears that his country has gone to war with another country and preparations are to be made to ensure the survival of the population. The film then alternates between scenes with this earnest doofus trying to resume normal life in the face of impending chaos with glimpses of the coming storm (like a scene where a cabbie taking the young man across town gets stopped by a military parade and arrested for making anti-war statements). But then, as the wedding commences, enemy bombs start falling on his town and the film gets down to business. The light tone of the early scenes falls away with the bombs, and what remains is an absurdist satire that revels in pointing out the psychosis and confusion inherent in the war machine. (Defining exchange between the young man and his lady as he's unwillingly spirited away to join the army: "Write to me!" "Where?" "I don't know!") The Eastern European cinematic tradition of laughing in the face of horror is much in evidence here, as the film shows us one exaggerated lunacy after another (the camoflauge training sequence is so inexplicable that it might not be a joke at all), but underneath the gallows humor is not only anger but fear -- fear that the Atomic Age will be man's last, and fear that our leaders may not be looking out for us or even care about us. Technically, it's very rough, and it's not helped by the poor English dubbing which occasionally works at cross purposes to the film. Those weaknesses reduce its sucker-punch force not one whit. Kind of amazing that this radically anti-establishment film could have leaked out of the Eastern Bloc at this time in history, but we're better off for it.

Grade: B


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home