Daily Archives: November 1st, 2008

On the Beach

I’ve finally got around to watching it: the Gregory Peck version.

The opening credits have a delightful orchestral theme. It took me a while to realise it was Waltzing Matilda. It continues as a theme throughout the whole flick, which gets a bit distracting for those of us who know the words.

It’s the most glorious black and white. Colour doesn’t allow for the lovely use of shadow that b&w does, or contrasts; I’ve seen a coloured version of Casablanca and it just doesn’t have the same mood.

It’s set in Melbourne! There’s the Post Office!

I adore Peck. That voice!

Filmed in 1959; there’s a dramatic moment when the calendar reveals that it’s 1964. Dum dum dum.

This is quite a different post-apocalyptic film from what we have tended to get more recently. It’s a peculiarly old-fashioned view of the apocalypse: no anarchy. It’s complicated – in its relationships, its view of causes – and it likes being complicated. It also likes thinking about the causes, which perhaps results from its Cold War origins.

It’s also a lot more forthright than I was expecting, perhaps because it’s based on an Australian book? Example: Lt and wife having a kiss near the beach, stranger walks past and says “Give ‘er what for, mate.” The Lt just waves.

Also: no petrol. Lots of bikes! And horse-drawn buggies.

Ah yes… blame the scientists… there’s even a hint of blaming computers. Fred Astaire is not, so far, as bad as I had feared. Ava Gardner is good; Donna Anderson is marvelous, as the somewhat naive, innocent young wife. Anthony Perkins is utterly fabulous as the young Lt.

My darling has always said we should move to the east coast of NZ’s south island, because the prevailing currents and winds would make it the safest place in the event of a nuclear disaster.

Oh, I really think I’ll have to read this. I’ve never read any Shute; A Town like Alice is really not my thing; this, on the other hand, is right up my alley.