Gutbrain Records

Saturday, 16 June 2007

The other day I watched this movie called The World, The Flesh and The Devil. Harry Belafonte plays a coal miner who returns to the surface to find that he's the only survivor of World War 3. Except that, of course, he isn't. I was interested in seeing it because the Internet Movie Database claimed that it's based on M. P. Shiel's novel The Purple Cloud. Except that, of course, it isn't.

The movie is pretty awful. Lousy script, terrible acting. Belafonte sings some tunes, as you might expect. It doesn't have anything to do with The Purple Cloud other than having a similar, "last man on Earth" premise. I think The Purple Cloud was inspired in part by Mary Shelley's Frankenstein in that both novels use an expedition to the North Pole as a metaphor for an attempt to gain forbidden knowledge.

Shiel's novel has a wonderfully delirious plot. The only human being on the planet spends his time traveling around to the great cities of the world, setting them on fire and watching them burn from a safe distance while getting drunk and smoking hash.

In The World, The Flesh and The Devil, Belafonte goes to New York City and moves into a luxury penthouse apartment. It's interesting to note that even after the end of the world, real estate in New York City retains its value.

Both The Purple Cloud and Frankenstein are in the public domain. The classic Frankenstein movie, wonderful as it is, has almost nothing in common with Shelley's novel, which is fantastic and well worth reading. You can download Frankenstein here and The Purple Cloud here.

For a good movie about coal miners, I recommend Hula Girls, which will be playing in New York City as part of Subway Cinema's New York Asian Film Festival. It's really great, though it could have used a better score.