When we screened Dr. Glas at the Totally Illegal Film Festival, the 'judges' were torn about whether its title character was in the right and where ace director Mai Zetterling stood on the issue of his guilt. It was a debate that raged for a half hour or so until The Long Day's Dying shut us up. David Cairns, lucky so-and-so, reviewed it as part of our joint unearthing of the wonders and horrors of the ill-fated 1968 Cannes, and reminds me why the project seemed like such a good idea to begin with. He's able to draw some beautiful conclusions about '68's dominant filmic language and direction (motions I second wholeheartedly) and gets at the beautiful oddness of Zetterling's camera. She was no cut-rate Bergman, he's quick to point out, but she did have her predecessors. What struck me upon first viewing was that it didn't seem to belong in 1968, but David grounds it and points out that boldness doesn't necessarily excuse a few trends wrapped in florid (if seductive) grammar. She was ahead of her time, but only just, and she puts as many feet in the recent, unfashionable past as the future. And so David once again proves once again that when our alien overlords finally arrive and start cracking the whip, we'll need that gigantic brain of his to help keep the human race alive.
Oh, and dig this Saul Bass-inspired poster. It gives the film the impression of being the first of Brian De Palma's pervy Hitchcock plagiarisms, instead of a richly nuanced but bleak and nightmarish look at sexual abuse. The film really is fascinating and worth the time it might take to track it down. No other film at Cannes that year could possibly have ignited the same amount of furious debate. There's sexual abuse of the same stripe in Petulia, but Lester's very clear who the enemy is. If George C. Scott had decided to off Richard Chamberlain that'd put the films on equal footing. You really must see it so we can talk more! Well...go on! What on earth are you waiting for?