May 2, 2011

The Visitor

There is no other way to approach this title than with severe caution. Fans (seldom found) of The Visitor know full well of the haphazardous alternate cuts of the film, either volleying ten or more additional minutes to further elaborate on the insane plot mechanics at hand or the shortened American version clocking in at 96 minutes, which hurriedly speeds through the ramblings of a screenplay penned by an Egyptian writer (no doubt played a part in the heavy dosage of religious symbolism and surrealism). What follows is something that really no one understands. No amount of sifting through the various versions will leave an imprint of concise understanding. The Visitor is as foreign to us as both the extraterrestrial fixture and the history behind such a film - a film in which the budget surely went straight to the star-studded cast which includes, but not limited to, Sam Peckinpah as an abortionist masked with shadow - rumors abound that while on set, was fueled on cocaine and constantly drunk, a performer if I ever saw one. With so much confusion towards the film, one thing is certain; The Visitor is hands down, one of the strangest films I have ever been pleasured to see.

Popular belief leaves children in light as the only innocence to be found in our society. The Visitor entirely suggests otherwise. Insisted upon as an Italian masquerade of The Omen, The Visitor is accredited to stealing motifs from Close Encounters of the Third Kind as well, what, with its blending of surreal science, extraterrestrial life and religious forces of good & evil. Joanne Nail stars as the lovely Barbara Collins, mother to a sinister young girl named Katy, whose lone hobby is skulking downstairs playing Pong using her telepathy. Father to the child is Lance Henriksen whose turn as a Faustian father marks one of the brighter performances in his career (as well as the wonderful Nature of the Beast). Raymond Armstead (Henriksen) has sold his soul as well as his family's to a mega-conglomerate led by Mel Ferrer whose intentions are to get the two adults wed and to procreate another perfect being - most likely timed to coincide with astrological alignment. Among other things, John Huston has a rather important role as a mystic emissary who is detailed in flashbacks before time on a sun-scorched rock garbed in a thick cloak. The Visitor is essentially two astral entities, representing either sides of chaos and order, speeding towards an inevitable collision. I will go out on a limb in assuming that much of The Visitor was lost on me at first due to the alternate cut that I viewed. However, further examination led me to forums crowded with pleas for understanding. Director Giulio Paradisi learned the ropes of intrigue well playing assistant director to Fellini on . Allow me, firsthand, to debunk any rumors that The Visitor just blindly swings The Omen as a fail safe. The Visitor simply takes several cues and paints the remainder of the picture with bewildering symbolism and bad biology, really.

Barbara Collins, at the end of the day, is simply a gorgeous lass that fell victim to circumstance as well as a grand pattern (that will continue to repeat itself). Withholding evil forces, imagine, if you will, the plight of mankind being so extravagant and recurring as in cinema, now making that an everyday occurrence. It's a strange topic to ponder about, especially when Franco Nero, portraying Christ, stares off with icy-blue eyes into the camera surrounded by hairless children, as per their metaphysical baptism. The Visitor is, quite frankly, one hell of a brain-rush. A film as esoteric and bizarre as this, having such funding and blowing it on an ensemble cast, destroys my thought process. Here I sit attempting to connect the shattered remains of what was once an idea on how to approach reviewing The Visitor. Words cannot simply highlight all there is to enjoy and despise about The Visitor. Am I scornful because it genuinely confused me with its alternate cuts and switchable narratives? Almost, other than that, The Visitor was quite a surprise with excellent performances from top grade acting talent and its pseudo-science blended with alien life and other pleasing abnormalities. Don't think, just give it a chance. Who knows, it might shred the last hint of decency you have towards no-expectation-cinema, rewriting the very way you view random cassette tapes. I know it did for me.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I hope the version of "The Visitor" that you saw did indeed include the scene where Paige Connor told Glenn Ford that she knew how much he wanted to molest her, because if that scene was edited from the cut that you saw you really are missing out on one of the greatest masturbation inducing scenes in the history of cinema (even though it doesn`t include any actual sex, unfortunately).