Thursday, May 29, 2014

Argo Not

We liked Argo (2012), Ben Affleck's film about the Canadian Caper, when the CIA and Canadian Foreign Service got a small group of American's out of Iran during the hostage crisis in 1980. They did it by pretending to be a film crew scouting locations for a fake movie. It has a great period feel, a lot of tension, and a fine ensemble cast. But that isn't what I came here to talk about.

You see, to make the caper believable, they needed a real movie, one that could have been made. In the movie, they picked a sort of Star Wars rip-off that was in "turn-around" (= never going to happen). In real life, the same, but the movie was Lord of Light, a version of the Roger Zelazny science fiction classic.

In my high-school years, I followed Asimov, Heinlein and Arthur C. Clarke as classic science fiction, but for the latest in New Wave, I went for Samuel Delaney and Roger Zelazny. Zelazny had a wonderful voice, clipped and hard-boiled like Dashiell Hammett, while his stories were a wild, experimental mix of philosophy, poetry, mythology and technology. Lord of Light is about a Buddha-like figure overthrowing the Hindu pantheon, who are actually human colonists on a distant planet who use technology to take on god-like powers.

I don't know if this would have made a good movie - his Damnation Alley was made into a stinker with Jan Michael Vincent and George Peppard. But you know who they got to do the storyboards? Jack "King" Kirby! Weirder yet, the producer intended to use the sets Kirby designed as a permanent amusement park, "Science Fiction Land".

The whole thing fell apart when it turned out that everyone was embezzling money and taking bribes, etc, hence the time in turn-around. But oh what might have been.

Instead, we got Argo, which isn't bad or anything. Maybe it's best this way.

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