Friday, August 22

Things I like... Xanadu

So, I'm sure some of you have heard of the movie Xanadu.  Most likely, you've heard that its a bad, terrible, horrible movie.  Well, you've heard correctly.  At least in part.

Xanadu isn't a great movie.  They spent a lot of money on songs and special effects, and neglected to buy a plot.  It however is not a terrible, horrible movie.  I've seen those, and they tend to be called 'Nymphoid Barbarian in Dinosaur Hell', a film with no Nymphoids, not barbarism and no dino's.  But, that's a post of another color.

No, Xanadu falls into the category of 'Cult Classing, Bad Film.'  Rocky Horror and Buckaroo Banzai fall into that same genre.  Movies that you'll most likely either love, or hate.  There isn't really an in between with them.  I'm not a fan of the former, and I have seen it.  And the later is one I enjoy.

The story in Xanadu is however interesting, if you look at it away from the bad acting on some part and the overdone special effect [both of which I think actually make it a great movie.]

Start with an artist.  One who wants to be something.  He dreams of stepping out into the world and showing his skills and being recognized.  Sadly, he seems doomed to live in a world of 'paint by numbers' as he calls it. What does he do?  He takes album covers and paints them larger, so they can hang on the side of record stores.

To quote Gene Kelly's character as he hears just that, 'Sounds like you should take long lunch breaks.'

He wants more, but when he tries... Nothing comes of it and he is forced back into this dark, dank world he hates.

Until he is kissed by a women.  She skates up to him, kisses him, then leaves.

No starts the film, as he searches for her and ends up joining forces with an older man to open up a night club.


Through all this, we routinely break out into song and frequently do so on roller skates.  Electric Light Orchestra provides almost all the music.  And, its actually pretty good.  I've grown to love almost every song from that movie and can easily start singing at any time.

Of course, as all good romantic comedies with music storylines go, we must lose the girl for various reason, then fight for the girl.

For me, its in the lead up to this that the movie passes on its best message.

Sonny, the young artist, says that without the girl, the dream is dead.

Danny, Gene Kelly's character, tells him different.  He says that dreams don't die, we kill them.  He continues by saying that if he really loves this girl, then he has to fight for her and get over his whininess.

I won't share how it ends, but its not quite the typical way.  There is an amazingly HUGE skate and dance sequence that lasts a good 20 minutes, with Olivia Newton-John singing most of it.

What I will do, is tell you how this movie inspired me.

Not sure when I first saw this, but I know I was young and impressionable.  But I was still me, and after one viewing on my VHS tape, I wondered 'Which muse was Kira?'  She started to give a name before being kissed, and so I went to my enciclopedia and looked up the muses.

This moment was where my love of greek mythology, and mythology in general, started.  I researched, checked out books, learned and enjoyed.  I may not have as much knowledge on the subject as others, but I know enough to make me happy.  And it sparked a love affair that's not gone away and in fact is showing up in my current WIP story.

In the scene described above with Gene Kelly, I also realized something that helped to change me.  Dreams are alive, and when we give up... We kill that dream.

Some years ago, as described in another post, I had to see my dream change to become reality.

Heres how I see it.  Our dreams are like a caterpillar in a cocoon.  Its at our mercy, trapped in a small space.  We THINK we know how it'll look when it comes out.  That's the constant dreaming.

When it emerges, we see the reality of it.  Here is where it can live or die once again, when we're faced with those changes.

Yes, Xanadu is a badly made movie.  But to me, it was something that helped inspire and change the course of my life.  I never gave up on my dreams, because Gene Kelly told me I'd kill them if I did.

Kristy C