Saturday, September 18, 2010

Starcrash (1978)

After watching Shout Factorys fantastic new DVD of Starcrash I decided not to write a new review, but to re-publish this older one. It seem like Luigi Cozzi's sci-fi classic now is getting some cred from the fans and critics, and I urge you all to buy the new release. Anyway, here's what I wrote in July 2009:

Boys and girls, isn't it time to reevaluate Starcrash? I recently saw it again, the french DVD-release by the way, and after I sat down to do some research what other people write about it. It as tragic reading.

They laugh at it. They think it's the worst film ever made. They try to make Cozzi look like an idiot. And so on, it's not worth counting every thing they wrote about how awful Starcrash is, it just makes me sad.

But personally, I think they're missing the point. Luigi Cozzi (or Cozzilla as some of his friends call him) is a big fan of old american science fiction, japanese monstermovies and Ray Harryhausens fantasyflicks. He's a well known fan of these, and other parts of the sci fi and fantasy-world. When you see Starcrash it's obvious that he likes Star Wars to... but not even close to the degree that he loves old style movies.

Cozzis work in cinema is weird. Almost every movie has their own style and feeling. The scripts are always a bit (some time much more than that) naive, but that's his style. But no other movie - I think so anyway - of his work looks remotely like Starcrash. He obvious had a strong vision with this project - and he really dosen't care about the strings holding the spaceships being visible.

There's hints to Inoshiro Honda, to Mario Bava, to Harryhausen and Flash Gordon. You have a playfulness that very few of these lesser-loved italian directors could reach. But I say that most of what happens and sees in this movie is a consciously choice by Cozzi. He knew what he was doing. He wanted to the ultimate cheesy matiné-adventure and he just didn't care about logic or being cool, gritty, seventies or with the cinematic in-crowd. He just wanted to do HIS movie.

I don't want to sound like the character David Brent in The Office, but it's time we laugh with Cozzi - not at him.

So it makes me sad to see how many people that actually missing the point with Starcrash. I'm not saying it's a masterpiece, because it's not. It's exploitation, it's a cash-in on something more popular and wellmade. But it's a cash-in with love.

There's a very honest moment in the end where Christopher Plummer (who seems to be the only actor in the movie not understand that this isn't a new Star Wars) sits on his throne and speaks directly to the camera:
Well, it's gone. It's happen. The Stars are clear. The planets shine.

We've won. Oh, some dark force no doubt, will show it's face once more.

The wheels will always turn. But for now it's calm.

And for a little time, at least, we can rest...
That's not The Emperor speaking. It's Luigi Cozzi the storyteller that sits by his childrens beds. He just told an amazing fairytale of princes, princesses, evil people, monsters and adventures. The children are both amazed and sceptical, but they will sleep very good after that. In a galaxy far far away.


Thomas Duke said...

I just got the blu-ray, but haven't watched it yet. I can now get rid of the pan and scan VHS, which never properly conveyed the epicness inherent within.

Rob Talbot said...

Funny you've posted this as I just bought the new UK disc today on spec while at the local HMV. Probably watching this tonight for review so thanks for the re-contextualising.

Ninja Dixon said...

Thomas Duke: I wish I could watch the blu-ray, but PS3 here in Europe still can't play region one :/ Let me know what you think about it!

Rob Talbot: I hope you enjoy it, it's a naive and entertaining movie. A favorite of mine. How's the uk dvd?

Nigel Maskell said...

Hi, I linked this blog entry from the Italian Film Review fanpage on facebook- not only because it was well written, as I would have expected but as an alternative viewpoint to mine regarding starcrash, your defense of the movie seemed far robust than mine!

anyhow, there is a question for you posted on the facebook page by a reader and I quote:

"Please post an update on the video quality; the reviews on Amazon were useless. Also, can you comment on the extras on the blu-ray release? This is an awesome Luigi Cozzi film--very trippy with lots of bright, primary colors and cheesy special fx."

even though on my fanpage it was response to your review so I felt it polite to forward this to you,

a reply has since been added: