Reviews and notes
Festivals: Toronto, Charlotte, Chicago, Rio de Janeiro
This highly visual, beautifully shot film functions as a metaphor of modern discontent. Majewski exposes a malaise that invests today's world boldly juxtaposing domestic strife against a vast allegorical canvas that embraces the political and the religious. Gospel according to Harry
is a striking film, where the director's maverick vision creates a metaphor for our times against a barren landscape.
- Piers Handling, Toronto International Film Festival
Produced for David Lynch’s Propaganda Films and starring Lord of the Rings
’ Viggo Mortensen, Gospel According to Harry
is a peculiarly Majewskian combination of Samuel Beckett, environmental dystopia, and Hollywood beefcake. In a vaguely distant future, the Pacific Ocean has dried up, and Southern California is consumed by desert. A young couple (Mortensen, Jennifer Rubin) live out what would be a normal suburban existence, if normal involved living outdoors amid sand dunes, washing dishes with sand, vacuuming sand. The pair won’t let a little environmental disaster stop them from petty arguments and other bourgeois concerns, though, nor will they let in-laws (including A Taste of Honey
’s Rita Tushingham), the tax man, or even jack-booted Secret Service thugs interrupt their mounting unease. Majewski makes sure his actors remain as oblivious to their setting as possible, thereby heightening the absurdity of their not-so-futuristic world, where baseball games and misfiled tax forms cause more panic than a vanishing water supply and political instability. - Jason Sanders, Pacific Film Archive
This edgy and at times impossible to decipher take on a notorious Biblical text... rivals the surrealistic visions of David Lynch as well as the stripped of political correctness sarcasm of Marco Ferreri.
My initial reaction to it, after spending nearly ninety minutes trying to rationalize what I was seeing, was that Lech Majewski is either one of the greatest undiscovered directors or a madman whose grandiose visions are absolutely impossible to unlock. And I am going to be honest with you - I still have not made up my mind which is the correct description.
For starters, this is a truly bizarre film. It is set in the middle of a dessert where Viggo Mortensen's character sleeps, makes love, and ponders the future under the open sky. That is correct, his properties - a fridge, TV, bed, table, phone, etc - are all scattered around, this is his home. The actual story, a misleading string of events, satirizing the morals, conveniences, and advancements of modernity is heavily influenced by religion even though it loudly denounces the canonization of freedom (the dialog effectively targets the social ordinance favored by developed societies where men are corrupted by power, money, and status).
Aside from the truly perplexing script Gospel According to Harry
is built upon, the cinematography and music are just as fascinating. Long, continuous, shots from the desert are mixed with a soothing ambient soundtrack revealing a surrealistic panorama of visuals one is more likely to witness in the paintings of Salvador Dali than in a film with a religious context. Not surprisingly, there is something enormously controversial in the manner in which the story is told, filmed, and related to the audience. Suffice to say the sense of utter confusion I experienced mixed with the delight of witnessing such abstract visuals was truly cathartic.
- Svet Atanasov, DVD Talk, 12 August 2008
Weblink: A Film Review by The Lumiere Reader of our screening.
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