Tuesday, November 2, 2010
Five From A Favorite - Quatermass and the Pit (1967)
Quatermass and the Pit is one of the best movies to come from the legendary British production company Hammer Studios, and one of the greatest sci-fi films ever made. I love everything about this movie. I love the brilliant Nigel Kneale script that is constantly spilling over with big ideas, and I love the high intensity of Andrew Keir's performance as the perpetually perturbed and sweaty Prof. Quatermass. I love the splash of the surreal that criminally underrated director Roy Ward Baker typically brought to his films, particularly in the scene where the Martian race memories are being recorded through a machine that gives them the appearance of a Bruce Conner work.
But most of all I love the ending where, after the giant alien/devil spectre and its mind control powers have been defeated, Quatermass and Barbara (Barbara Shelley) sit in the street, overwhelmed with exhaust, and not exactly happy or relieved at what they've just seen - as you would find to be the case in many other movies of this ilk after the Big Bad has been taken down - but rather dazed, disheartened, and still in the process of soaking in the revelations they've learned, communicating sheerly through their slouched body language knowledge that the city has now pretty much gone to shit, and that things will probably never be the same again, and that in all likelihood the death of their friend they've just witnessed - a death in service of defeat of the ultimate evil - is perhaps when all is said and done a rather minor victory. The whole "the day is saved but the damage is done" sentiment is far from original of course, but here, distilled to a single, silent shot as the credits play out, it attains a certain level of poignancy.