(Guest review by Reecey.)
Okay, so a short while back, I reviewed Hard Day’s Night, and if there is one thing you should have taken out of that review (aside from John Lennon being the forefather of all trolls) it’s that it’s a very surreal film.
That was in 1964, this is 1965, one year later, and it’s time for the second film, Help!.
This is the Beatles film that I’ve never seen before.
I’d seen Hard Day’s Night, Magical Mystery Tour and Yellow Submarine during my childhood, but never Help!. I wish I had, because I don’t think I’ve ever been as confused coming out of a film as I have at this very moment.
So, as the Beatles were even more of a cultural force to be reckoned with than they were the previous year, the film is now in colour, has more settings than just ‘London’ and ‘a train’ and is a thousand times more surreal than it’s predecessor.
One of the sources of the surreality of the whole thing is the cult of worshippers who are seeking to sacrifice Ringo to Kali.
These actors are all white and talk in these strange sort of affected Indian accents, and you’d be forgiven for thinking that this was a good old fashioned case of white washing. You might even be lauded for it! Because you’re probably right.
Then there’s the Indian restaurant staffed almost entirely by white English people (except for another white actor pretending to be from the East, and again, it’s not clear whether the same is true in universe) who appear to be largely indistinguishable, ethnically speaking, from the cultists to the Beatles.
Then on top of that is when the leader of the cultists is trying to discuss some plans with his followers on the tube in presumably the native tongue of where they’re coming from, and one of his more prominent followers says that he doesn’t understand this Eastern rubbish.
Are these … just white people playing pretend? (In universe, not in real life.)
Because that would make a shocking amount of sense.
It’s like they decided that they were just going to mess with the audience’s heads because they couldn’t get the number of actual south Asian actors needed for a project of this size.
Scenarios that they take in their stride in exactly the same way that they took the scenarios in Hard Day’s Night in their stride.
The plot, as it is, is that one of the cultists sent Ringo a fan letter from this unnamed eastern country in less than twenty four hours, with a ring that he just decided to put on.
This ring is to be worn by the daily sacrifice (which makes no sense, you’d run out of people so fast) who is painted red and sacrificed to Kali. (Who just seems to be in this for the lolz by the end, to be honest.)
By the way, they spend several weeks on trying to steal the ring before they decide he has to die, which…
Look, just don’t try to make this film’s chronology make sense. It has a Channel Swimmer show up in an ice hole in the Alps and the Bahamas within what has to be less than sixteen hours.
Nothing about this film makes any goddamn sense.
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This film is so nonsensical and bizarre that it’s like three drunk Volition staff writers wrote it.
The music is better than the last film, though. Less recognisable hits, but the quality is generally up.
All I can do is tell you to watch it, because there is nothing I can say that could possibly do it justice.
Not even the weird ‘let’s explain half the plot in subtitles’ thing, or why the Beatles live in four knocked through terraced houses that make the bus in Spice World seem sensical.
Or the intermission, or how part two of the film is just five seconds of a woman complaining about her children while washing one of them in a bath.
Not even the weird mad scientist who keeps complaining about how stuff’s better in America.
Or how the film is dedicated to the inventor of the sewing machine.
I can’t even.
I just can’t.