HomeEntertainment‘The Unknown Man of Shandigor’ Review: A Sci-Fi Fable of the Nuclear...

‘The Unknown Man of Shandigor’ Review: A Sci-Fi Fable of the Nuclear Anxiety Age

The 1967 image “The Unknown Man of Shandigor,” written and directed by the Swiss filmmaker Jean-Louis Roy, opens with a documentary shot of an A-bomb explosion — solely backward. You’ll be able to’t take again a detonation, however what in the event you may? Made at a time when the idea of mutual assured destruction was a distinguished concern in a lot of the world, the movie posits a “canceler” that may disable nuclear weapons. The plot doesn’t element whether or not it really works on destruction in progress; at one level, the formulation is described as one which “sterilizes” all such gadgets. Particulars don’t matter on this situation.

What does matter is that the very existence of such a formulation creates a brand new entrance within the Chilly Struggle: the safe villa of a misanthropic scientist named Herbert Von Krantz (Daniel Emilfork, very dedicated to his bit), who concocted the formulation and is hiding it from the remainder of the world. Always sneering from his wheelchair, he’s no peacenik benefactor; he even refers to himself as “Dracula.” Holed up along with his sad daughter and a taciturn lab assistant, he fends off assaults by Russian, American and freelance spies, every of them a special shade of absurd. (One of many factions is overseen by a spy supervisor, performed by the musician Serge Gainsbourg, who sings his tune “Bye Bye Mister Spy” on the funeral for one among his operatives.)

The newly restored film (as soon as thought of a “misplaced” work) is stuffed with incidental pleasures. The eclectic, typically melodramatic rating by Alphonse Roy and the attractive contrasts of Roger Bimpage’s black-and-white cinematography are chief amongst them. There are sturdy vibes of Godard’s “Alphaville” (not restricted to the participation of that movie’s actor Howard Vernon) and Kubrick’s “Dr. Strangelove.” This gangly image isn’t a misplaced masterpiece, to be clear. Nevertheless it’s a magnetic curio, an enchanting relic of a vanished pressure of European cinema.

The Unknown Man of Shandigor
Not rated. In French, with subtitles. Operating time: 1 hour 36 minutes. Watch on Projectr.

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