Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
USA, 1972. Angelika Films, Merchant Ivory Productions. Screenplay by George W.S. Trow, Michael O’Donoghue, based on an idea by James Ivory. Cinematography by Walter Lassally. Produced by Ismail Merchant. Music by Joe Raposo. Production Design by James D. Bule, Jack Wright III. Costume Design by Joan Hanfling, Susan Schlossman. Film Editing by Kent McKinney.
Odd but endearing film, an early production from the impressive team of Merchant Ivory. Beginning like a silent film, using black and white stock and intertitles to tell the story, the film displays a group of primitives living in a dense forest in ignorant bliss until a perfectly spherical croquet ball is flung into their midst. Having never seen a sphere in nature before, they track down the ball’s origin to an abandoned country mansion in the middle of a clearing, and once there take over the house, updating to 1930s clothing and speaking like right proper British subjects. The film is now full colour, with dialogue that details these people tearing each other apart socially for two days until their old ways return and they regress back to their more savage selves. The allegory here isn’t all that mysterious, but its execution is clever and benefits from some gemlike performances. James Ivory has a good time poking fun at hypocritical British morality, but also enjoys stylistic effects and the beautiful production details that would come to be a hallmark of his company’s films.