Thursday, June 28, 2018


"Now comes a throwback to the old days when the phrase "French movie" did not mean art, and "art film" didn't mean art, either, and everybody knew exactly what they did mean, and had their exact change counted out before they dashed up to the box office, so nobody would see them going into a dirty movie."

Roger Ebert - from his review of Betty Blue

I'd repeatedly heard about the relatively obscure Gandahar as one of the benchmarks of animation and imagination, so I watched it why not. The very first scene set me laughing for revealing the exact cause of everyone's fond memories. The rest set me snoozing.

To be fair the flick does supply a few imaginative scenes, up to about five minutes' worth. A peaceful society based on bioengineered sci-fantasy agriculture is attacked by an army of black metal men with red eyes. Hmmm, I wonder who the bad guys might be. Includes flying manta ray mounts, a dinosaurish Godzilla thing with heavy eyebrows, a domestic beast with its tail in the shape of a plow, one-eyed spy birds, hideously deformed mutants, etc.

Oh, and the gal with wings growing out of her skull? Gandahar's leader? Her name's "Ambisextra" for no particular reason. The flick opens with a topless chick blowing some pipe, continues with some other chick breastfeeding an armadillo, a city council of women in tit-less dresses and a perky young heroic love interest whose perkier young features occupy the bottom half of the screen for the whole middle portion of the story. Oh, then there's the mutant women, all topless, a trio of which is seen milking some stalagtitties in a cave (deep, deep in that cave, ungh!) and respectively have four legs, four breasts and her head in her chest (eyes down here!)

The few people who have actually seen and have fond memories of Gandahar should admit they saw it at an impressionable young age back before the days of internet porn and were... titillated. Just admit you liked Airelle's boobies. And they're quality cartoon boobies, hey, no complaints here. Good horizontal / vertical balance, modest depth, consistent vectoring, the very pinnacle of pinnacles, professional-grade construction overall. It's just... their narrative capabilities are rather limited...

Nothing morally wrong with liking some softcore cartoon porn. Whatever motorboats your flotation devices. Aside from that, Gandahar's plot's not worth mentioning and its animation's classic 2FPS anime quality, with repetitive scenes economically overextended to pad out its length. I retained some sympathy for assuming this had been made sometime in the '60s or '70s until its actual release date turned out to be 1987. Jesus fuck a donkey, you mean this piece of crap was made three years after Nausicaa? Even Gandahar's supposed claim to fame of fantastic imagery is upon closer inspection little better than what you would've seen on Thundarr the Barbarian or Jim Henson movies. Also, a ravenous mountain-sized brain as evil mastermind? Not such a novelty as you might think. Gustave le Rouge did that back in 1909 with his ludicrous Martian vampire novels, not to mention H.G. Wells in 1901 with The First Men in the Moon and by 1962 the cliche of the giant brain antagonist was already relegated to "young adult" fiction like A Wrinkle in Time.

But hey, none of them had cartoon tits or the trim, taut young hero flashing his naked ass at the camera so they're not "art" - right?

No comments:

Post a Comment