Thursday, September 22, 2016

The Rainbow Thief




Directed by Alejandro Jodorowsky and written by Berta Dominguez D., The Rainbow Thief is the story of a crook who befriends the heir to a fortune in the hopes he can score the fortune. The film is a whimsical tale of friendship told in a stylistic manner as it relates to desires of the richest kind that money can and can‘t buy. Starring Peter O’Toole, Omar Sharif, and Christopher Lee. The Rainbow Thief is an interesting but lackluster film from Alejandro Jodorowsky.

Set in an unnamed European city, the film is about this beggar thief who meets the nephew of an eccentric millionaire as they spend five years living in the sewer awaiting word about the inheritance that this man is to get. It’s a film with a simple plot that explores the idea of survival and expectations of great rewards yet the film’s script by Berta Dominguez D. is very by-the-books in the way it establishes its main characters such as the thief Dima (Omar Sharif), the offbeat heir Meleagre (Peter O’Toole), and the eccentric millionaire Rudolf Van Tannen (Christopher Lee). The last of which is just a plot device where he goes into a five-year coma while relatives bicker over who gets the inheritance while thinking of putting Meleagre into a psychiatric hospital and leave him out of the will. Upon meeting Dima and seek refuge in the sewers, Meleagre decides to live a life without complications yet he treats Dima like a servant. While it’s meant to be a story of friendship, the script often has the two men bickering while Dima goes out and steal to survive while hoping he would get some money from Meleagre’s inheritance.

Alejandro Jodorowsky’s direction is very straightforward which is shocking considering that the filmmaker is known for creating visuals that are confrontational and majestic. With this film, it’s an attempt to maintain some of the whimsical elements he’s known for yet it feels forced and never really does anything to stand out visually. Shot largely on location in Gdansk, Poland where it plays as this European port city, Jodorowsky does take great advantage of the location with its usage of wide and medium shots while he does also create moments in the compositions that are interesting that includes the scenes between Dima and Meleagre. While Jodorowsky tries to maintain some sense of energy and charm into the film, it’s not enough to cover many of the shortcomings of the script as Jodorowsky is just creating something that just feels very ordinary. Overall, Jodorowsky creates a very bland film about a thief and an heir to a fortune trying to await the news of a man’s death for great riches.

Cinematographer Ronnie Taylor does excellent work with the film‘s cinematography as it‘s quite colorful for some of the scenes involving the circus acts as well as some unique interior lighting in the scenes set in the sewers. Editor Mauro Bonnani does nice work with the editing as it‘s largely straightforward to play into some of the whimsical elements in the film. Production designers Didier Naert and Alexandre Trauner, with set decorators Simon Wakefield and Peter Young and art directors Fred Hole and Janusz Sosnowski, do fantastic work with the look of Rudolf‘s home as well as some of the interiors of the sewers and the places around the docks. Costume designers Barbara Kidd and Ewa Krauze do terrific work with the costumes from the lavish clothes of Meleagre as well as the look of the other hobos and people living around the docks. Sound editors Mireille Leroy and Corrine Rozenberg do superb work with the sound as it plays into the sound of the waters flowing through the sewers as well as the whimsy of the circus world. The film’s music by Jean Musy is wonderful for its orchestral-based score as it play to the world of the circus and the sense of hope and whimsy that looms for its key characters.

The casting by Jeremy Zimmerman is pretty good as it features appearances from punk rock legend Ian Dury as a bartender Dima owes money to, screenwriter Berta Dominguez D. as a beggar named Tiger Lily, Joanna Dickens as a woman Dima uses for money in Ambrosia, and Christopher Lee in a fantastic performance as the eccentric Rudolf Von Tannen as this eccentric millionaire who cares more about his dogs and bevy of whores than his family where it’s an appearance that is just too brief where he eventually becomes a plot device. Finally, there’s the excellent performances of Peter O’Toole and Omar Sharif in their respective roles as Meleagre and Dima. Despite the shortcomings of the script, the two do give committed performances that allow them to have fun with Sharif being the more physical in his approach to play a thief while O’Toole camps up the eccentricities of his character where he is often accompanied by a dead dog.

Despite the performances of Peter O’Toole and Omar Sharif as well as some solid technical work, The Rainbow Thief is a very mediocre film from Alejandro Jodorowsky. It’s a film that wants to be a lot of things only to fall very short due in part to its lackluster script and Jodorowsky being constrained to create something that is very straightforward which is something that Jodorowsky isn’t known for. In the end, The Rainbow Thief is just an uninspired film from Alejandro Jodorowsky.

Alejandro Jodorowsky Films: La Cravate - Teatro sin fin - Fando y Lis - El Topo - The Holy Mountain - Tusk (1980 film) - Santa Sangre - The Dance of Reality - (Endless Poetry)

Related: Jodorowsky's Dune - The Auteurs #59: Alejandro Jodorowsky

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