Monday, November 2, 2009

The Royal Hunt of the Sun (1969)

I just can't get enough of adventure-movies set in historical times. Temples, battles, intrigues, men dressed in very little clothes.

There's peplums, there's dark dramas from the eastern europe, there's Hollywood extravaganzas. And then we have those middle-movies. Not cheap, not expensive, just inbetween somewhere. They're aren't consider big classics because not so many people know about them. Kings of the Sun is one one. The War Lord is another one. Excellent flicks, but hardly any movies that are brought up together with the big classics in the genre, like Spartacus or Ben-Hur. The Royal Hunt of the Sun is one of the most forgotten ones, maybe just because it's in public domain and no one really bothered to release it properly over the years. I think it's well worth watching, if not only for impressive performances by Robert Shaw and Christopher Plummer.

Robert Shaw plays Pizarro, the spanish explorer who makes one final journey to South America to proove to his king that there are gold for everyone there. This time he's being forced to bring two priests and a couple of the kings men with him, which causes trouble. The only thing they want is to make everyone they meet a christian and claim more land for Spain. Pisarro is a warrior, but also way smarter than the religious idiots he has to bring with him, and when they meet a young and free-spirited Inca King (Christopher Plummer) he's starting to get confused about his mission and about his religion...

As you can hear, it's mostly a drama - and it's based on play by the way - but it's also a good drama with Plummer in one of the most weird roles I've seen him in. He's has the strangest acccent I've heard in a movie, makes sounds and weird movements, like monkey or a bird, and dances around like a madman. He causes a crisis when he says he's a god, and makes the spanish monks belive he's a reincarnation of Satan. The spanish expects him to convert to christianity, to act like a "normal" person, but finds out that he never will do that. Instead he starts to question the logic in the christian religion, which opens up more questions about morality and what people do in gods name.

The Royal Hunt of the Sun is shot in Peru, and they uses something that looks like a real Inca temple. The location is fantastic, and if it's fake I just want to send my regards to the set designers. Like Kings of the Sun, it has a realistic feeling to it, and there's a lot of strange rituals and clothes that seems real, and not some silly invention from Hollywood (or England in this case). But is there any action at all? Yes, there's one battle in the beginning when the spanish first meet the Inca king and his people. But it's not a normal generic epic movie-battle, it's much cooler. Everything is in slow-mo, gorgeous slow-mo so you can see everything. It's like a early version of 300, with less blood. It's so stylish and cool that it made the hair on my arms stand up. Every movie I love has that "thing" that makes it even closer to me, and this is one of the scenes which moved this movie from good to great in my opinion. It was the extra spice I needed before all the drama started.

I've only seen the short version, which runs around 95 minutes. The original version is almost 2 hours. This is a cheap british dvd which is in the original ratio, but non-anamorphic. The picture quality is quite bad, but better than the other versions of the movie I've seen.

No comments: