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  Black Moon Lily Alien
Year: 1975
Director: Louis Malle
Stars: Cathryn Harrison, Therese Giehse, Alexandra Stewart, Joe Dallesandro
Genre: WeirdoBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Lily (Cathryn Harrison) is a teenage girl driving her little orange car through the countryside of the near future in the dusk when she accidentally runs over a badger in the road. Getting out to inspect the damage, she becomes aware of the sound of bombs and shelling from the landscape around her: the battle of the sexes is continuing with some ferocity. Lily is trying to find a safe haven from the conflict between men and women, but unfortunately she is forced to stop at a road block ahead set up by some male soldiers. As she watches, they march a group of female soldiers by the roadside and execute them with their machine guns; realising this is not a good place to be, Lily starts her car and roars off into the bushes and undergrowth, but not before one of the soldiers smashes her windscreen with a bullet. Is there nowhere to hide from the war?

During the nineteen seventies, there were a handful of films made by mostly European directors that could best be described with the word "experimental" and maybe better described as "weird". They were also called head movies, and Black Moon was writer and director Louis Malle's entry into this genre, which he conjured up with the help of Ghislain Uhry and Joyce Buñuel, a filmmaker in her own right and daughter-in-law of the famed Luis Buñuel, which some have seen as appropriate considering the surreal nature of the storyline. That said, it does have the look of a film being made up as it goes along, and even when it ends the point of it all is obscure.

Cathryn Harrison was, at the time, better known for being the daughter of actor Noel Harrison, of "Windmills of Your Mind" fame, and granddaughter of Rex Harrison, but here she started to forge a career in acting. Although in truth, she doesn't appear to have any more idea of what is going on than the viewer, her expression alternating between puzzled and aggrieved - you may sympathise with her confusion. From the opening twenty five minutes of the film, during which all Llly says is "Hey!", you may be thinking this will be a chase story as the soldiers on both sides track her down, but after having to abandon her car, she sees a man on horseback and runs after him, rather like Alice of Wonderland renown follows the White Rabbit.

Where she ends up is a manor house, which was Malle's own property, which she enters and discovers a tall glass of milk in the kitchen, something she gulps down though considering what happens later she may have been better to find out where the milk originated first. In an upstairs room is an old woman (Therese Giehse) who babbles into a radio and talks away to a large rat. Animals have mysterious significance here, from the insects that Lily watches intently through to snakes, pigs, menacing sheep and a unicorn. This unicorn has been designed by Norman Thelwell by all appearances, but it does speak - it doesn't clear anything up, but it does speak. Various people mill around, with Andy Warhol star Joe Dallesandro as a psychic opera-singing (well, miming) gardener most notable, that is until his sister (Alexandra Stewart) starts breastfeeding the old woman. Very strange, and if Malle wanted to create a world that was as alien to us humans as the lfe of the insects and snakes then he succeeded. Alas, the lasting impression is of being told someone's latest dream at wearying length. Music by Diego Masson.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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