Saturday, August 2, 2014

saturday night movie: petulia

Petulia is a 1968 film in which Julie Christie plays a sweet neurotic newlywed looking for a fling with doctor George C. Scott. The film is edited so that you only find out the background of each character as the movie goes on, through sporadic flashbacks that happen in the middle of other scenes. It might sound very strange, but it's really one of the most fascinating movies I've seen.

The story was very interesting and it was exceptionally well acted (but that's a given when Julie Christie is the star.) But to me, this was a visual experience that would have been a joy to watch even if it had no plot or dialogue at all. From automated hotels where the lights start blinking when you've reached your room (much like those little light-up discs that are handed out now at restaurants to notify you when your table is ready) to nuns riding in a sports car, to off-center shots which seem more like moving photographs than commercial film. One of my favorite shots is an overhead view of houses lined up in perfect little rows -- reminiscent of one of my favorite modern classics, Edward Scissorhands.

The movie is exceptionally modern, with artistic fade outs that blend George C. Scott's world of medicine and anatomy with party sequences, lava lamp-like imagery and groovy lighting. (Just had to use that word once in this post...) But the film also has a tongue-in-cheek attitude towards cultural advancements, if you could call them that. At the hospital, Scott has to explain to a patient why the television in her room is actually made of cardboard, a placeholder put there in the hopes that it would entice her into renting a real one at a fee.

Now, call me superficial but one of my favorite things about Petulia was the fashion. I went a little screen-shot happy on this one, and I think I covered all of her outfits in the film. I also took some shots of the automated hotel & the neat row of houses. For the nuns in a sports car, you'll just have to see the movie yourself.

Petulia is available to rent on amazon here.

This post was originally published on my movie blog, Silents & Talkies.