Thursday, March 18, 2010

O Lucky Man!/О, счастливчик! (1973)

This sprawling, surrealist musical serves as an allegory for the pitfalls of capitalism, as it follows the adventures of a young coffee salesman in Europe. Many actors play multiple roles, giving the film a stagy tone...

O Lucky Man! is a 1973 British comedy film, intended as an allegory on life in a capitalist society. Directed by Lindsay Anderson, it stars Malcolm McDowell as Mick Travis, whom McDowell had first played as a disaffected public schoolboy in his first film performance in Anderson's film if.... (1968). The film was entered into the 1973 Cannes Film Festival.

During his journey, Travis learns the amoral lesson, reinforced by numerous songs in the soundtrack by Alan Price, that he must abandon his principles in order to succeed, but unlike the other characters he meets he must retain a detached idealism that will allow him to distance himself from the evils of the world: a fact which causes the film to often be considered a reappropriation of Candide by Voltaire. As one of the film's songs says:

Smile while you're makin' it, Laugh while you're takin' it, Even though you're fakin' it, Nobody's gonna know.

In O Lucky Man!, Travis progresses from coffee salesman (working for Imperial Coffee in the North East of England and Scotland), a victim of torture in a government installation and a medical research subject, under the supervision of Dr Millar (Crowden), where he is almost turned into a sheep.

In parallel with Travis' experiences, the film shows 1960s Britain retreating from its imperial past, but managing to retain some influence in the world by means of corrupt dealings with foreign dictators. After finding out his girlfriend is the daughter of Sir James Burgess (Richardson), an evil industrialist, he is appointed Burgess' personal assistant.

With Dr Munda, the dictator of the fictitious Zingara, a brutal police state which nevertheless manages to be a playground for wealthy people from the developed world, Burgess sells the regime a chemical called PL45 'Honey' for spraying on rebel areas (the effects resemble those of Napalm). Burgess connives at having Travis found guilty of fraud, and he is imprisoned for five years.

The final scene of the film shows him becoming involved in a casting call for a film, with Lindsay Anderson himself playing the director of the film. He is given various props to handle, including a stack of school books and a machine gun. When asked to smile Mick continually asks why. The director slaps Travis with his script book after he fails to understand what is being asked of him. After a cut to black (a device used throughout the film) a slow look of understanding crosses Mick's face. The scene then cuts to a party with dancing which includes all of the cast celebrating.(WIKI)

Directed by Lindsay Anderson
Produced by Lindsay Anderson
Written by David Sherwin and Malcolm McDowell (Story)
Starring Malcolm McDowell
Ralph Richardson
Rachel Roberts
Arthur Lowe
Helen Mirren
Graham Crowden
Dandy Nichols
Music by Alan Price
Cinematography Miroslav Ondříček
Editing by David Gladwell
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release date(s) 1973
Running time 183 min.
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Preceded by if....
Followed by Britannia Hospital

O Lucky Man! on IMDb

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