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Monday, 22 December 2008

Herostratus (1967)

I am always tempted when I hear about the showing of some rare film oddity, so we went to the Institute of Contemporary Arts to see this one which was promoted as an experimental flick from someone called Don Levy featuring Helen Mirren in her first film role. I was further tempted by its very high rating on IMDb, but what a pretentious disappointment it turned out to be -- all 142 minutes of it!



The story, such as it is, concerns a young man who approaches an advertising tycoon to promote his forthcoming suicide. The film takes its title from a legendary "hero" who burnt down the Temple of Artemis, one of the seven Wonders of the World, in a bid for immortality. I assume this was meant to be some sort of satire or protest against commericalism and other evils of the modern world, since this slim story was intercut with archive news footage, fashion shoots, and bloody butchery from an abattoir -- along with some artsy-craftsy fast-motion footage. There were effectively only three main characters, the young man, the ad-man, and the latter's receptionist-cum-mistress -- none of whom were the least bit interesting or likeable. In the end it becomes apparent that no one gives a damn if the suicide occurs on schedule -- and while there is a death, there is virtually nobody there to note it.



This film was so full of itself that it didn't even run to front or back credits. Oh, and Helen Mirren did appear in it -- for about five minutes -- as a scantily clad model promoting kitchen gloves. Can I have those 142 minutes back please.
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