Don Levy's "Herostratus"
August 30, 2011 8:27 PM   Subscribe

Hidden away in vaults and out of distribution for over forty years, Herostratus was in its own time largely misunderstood. After only a handful of initial screenings it virtually disappeared from public view altogether, remaining all but forgotten to this day. Yet while admittedly flawed, the film does offer a compelling critique of the failure of 1960s postwar idealism in Britain, an ideal portrayed as having degenerated into neurotic self-gratification. It is also of note as Dame Commander Helen Mirren's first credited screen role. (not safe for those sexually aroused by Helen Mirren)

Later critics would remark upon Herostratus's apparent influence on Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange (1971). Levy was undoubtedly highly respected by many important contemporary British directors, including Richard Lester, but Herostratus's failure to find an audience in Britain persuaded him to leave for America, where he would teach and experiment with many subsequently abandoned projects. He would never make another feature again. While Levy is more celebrated for his innovative short documentaries in the early 1960s, Herostratus is the only intensely personal statement he ever publicly exhibited.
posted by Trurl (18 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
Fans of early-Mirren pulchritude should also consult Age of Consent.
posted by Trurl at 8:29 PM on August 30, 2011


Well, that was strange.
posted by delmoi at 8:33 PM on August 30, 2011


gotta go. must buy rubber gloves.
posted by lalochezia at 8:39 PM on August 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


[Takei] Oh my![/Takei]
posted by MikeMc at 9:04 PM on August 30, 2011


So this was a film about a man intent on suicide and both the main actor and the director committed suicide!
Also - a review of the Blu-ray release:
"There's so much more going on here than this summary suggests, in the structure, the narrative depth and the technique, but Herostratus is one of those rare films where as a reviewer you have to either cut yourself short or forget the review and start work on the reference book."
posted by unliteral at 9:18 PM on August 30, 2011


Ok look you fools. I got obsessed with this film last summer and I found a torrent of it.
It felt incredibly fresh. Like something by new in it's style and it's telling.
It is at the very least worth one viewing from you.
I only wish there were more material avaiable on it as I find it fascinating.

And since I have this window open anyway, Lindsay Anderson's If... Is out on Criterion this week. And you need to see it. So do that.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 10:39 PM on August 30, 2011


"I don`t think you should hurt or kill animals just to entertain an audience. Animals should have some rights. But there are a lot of directors, including Ingmar Bergman, who will injure animals to further a plot. I will have none of it."

-James Mason
posted by clavdivs at 12:29 AM on August 31, 2011


"And since I have this window open anyway, Lindsay Anderson's If... Is out on Criterion this week. And you need to see it. So do that."
posted by Senor Cardgag

If you are going to watch If, then you would also need to watch Oh Lucky Man, which is the second in the trilogy. It is a very strange and British film with everyone playing multiple roles (including "blacking up" for some scenes, but then, it was 1973). [from imdb] "This sprawling, surrealist musical serves as an allegory for the pitfalls of capitalism, as it follows the adventures of a young coffee salesman..."

The third film in the trilogy is Britania Hospital.
posted by marienbad at 1:47 AM on August 31, 2011


*bites down hard on knuckle*
Oo'er!
Leakproof, you say?
posted by stinkycheese at 2:34 AM on August 31, 2011


(not safe for those sexually aroused by Helen Mirren)

There are people who aren't sexually aroused by Helen Mirren?
posted by askmeaboutLOOM at 3:37 AM on August 31, 2011 [9 favorites]


The third film in the trilogy is Britania Hospital.

And you can probably skip that one.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 6:00 AM on August 31, 2011


She is cute in this scene but I have to say Prime Suspect 1-4 Helen M is somehow hotter. Anyway, also, nice gloves!
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:08 AM on August 31, 2011


All this and Caligula, too... Oh, Helen. *fans self*
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:18 AM on August 31, 2011


I know this is the Internet and all but when I was lucky enough to FIND a torrent of Oh Lucky Man (granted this was 2005) it took me SIX DAYS to download.


Also on MacDowellfilter: we watched 1979's underappreciated time-travel gem Time After Time the other night and it still plays incredibly well. HG Wells chasing Jack the Ripper through modern San Francisco. What is not to love?
posted by Senor Cardgage at 8:18 AM on August 31, 2011


Loved If. Thought O Lucky Man was interesting in parts, but I hated the musical interludes (of which there are many). I can't think of anything positive to say about Britannia Hospital. It's pretty abysmal.
posted by stinkycheese at 9:08 AM on August 31, 2011


Oh Lucky Man is one of my favorite movies. The young MacDowell is brilliant. Time to watch it yet again.
posted by Splunge at 12:38 PM on August 31, 2011


Another possible influence on A Clockwork Orange was the Japanese film, Funeral Procession of Roses.
posted by jonp72 at 3:45 PM on August 31, 2011


The odds of Tom Cruise doing a sprinting-in-slacks-and-dress-shoes scene in a movie = the odds of Helen Mirren getting her kit off in a movie.

She's shameless, and I'm having none of it.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 1:11 AM on September 1, 2011


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