Monday, July 27, 2009

Something Witchy

The Manson Family. It's a film that is an acquired taste, and I know more people who hate it than like it. I'm not a huge fan of Manson and his followers, though I find the story fascinating. In the end, they're just hippies with a little more motivation. All things considered, though, I really like the film.

There is no narrative in the traditional sense of the word. What you watch is more of an experience (and may be best viewed on LSD). It's shot like a documentary (and has fooled people into believing they are watching actual footage of the family), and it has this almost anarchist glee about it. You can tell it's a labor of love and is definitely the product of vision and not committee. Thank God.

The above trailer doesn't actually do the film justice. To see it is to find out just how unexplainable it really is. There's a story set in the now and one set in the past. The one set in the past we all know (at least on some level or another), but the future one is pretty much just a device to tie it all together, and it shows how his followers have changed. (Most of the people I know now who are into Manson are not even close to hippies, who find the man most distasteful.) Now his followers are counter-culture miscreants that find more in common with punk and metal music than The Beatles.

My guess, and this is based on nothing more than a scant knowledge of the man, is that if Manson saw this he would like it. I've seen his interviews. He's either crazy or acting like it so he doesn't have to deal with the outside world. (As an aside, my ex-wife and I were once behind a caravan taking Manson to Pelican Bay. I joked that it was Manson and surmised busting him out in an elaborate car crash scheme. I didn't know it was him at the time, though, and good thing because I may have tried it. I later found out on the news that it was, indeed, him.) The Manson in this film comes across as nuts, but in a very workable way. The Manson we see now is just plain ol' nuts.

Once again a movie transcends form and leaves people either gaped mouth or scratching their heads. I've seen both reactions. I just happen to think it's a stylish bit of exploitation that never feels like exploitation. It also feels a bit forbidden.

Would you want anything less in a movie about Manson?

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