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  Mondo Candido Best Of The Best
Year: 1975
Director: Gualtiero Jacopetti, Franco Prosperi
Stars: Christopher Brown, Michele Miller, Jacques Herlin, José Quaglio, Steffen Zacharias, Gianfranco D'Angelo, Salvatore Baccaro, Alessandro Haber, Richard Domphe, Sonia Viviani, Carla Mancini, Lorenzo Piani, Giancarlo Badassi, Annick Berger, Giancarlo Cortesi
Genre: Comedy, Trash, Weirdo, Fantasy, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Candido (Christopher Brown) is a young man without a care in the world who spends his time prancing around the grounds of the castle where he lives with the Baron and Baroness, who thrive on eating as much as they can. He has been greatly influenced by the resident philosopher Dr Panglos (Jacques Herlin) who chews over the issues of existence and comes to the conclusion that everything happens for a reason in this best of all possible worlds, and so it seems as if this paradise on Earth will never end, what with Candido deeply in love with another resident, the Baron's daughter Cunegonda (Michele Miller) who is as dedicated to innocent pleasure as he is...

But our hero is about to receive a rude awakening, for this was a version of Voltaire's classic satire Candide, and what made it all the ruder was the presence of Gualtiero Jacopetti and Franco Prosperi behind the camera, they of the Mondo Cane fame. That duo of directors were the instigators of the mondo movie genre, where the most lurid subjects the filmmakers could find were presented for the audience's entertainment, and if they were not exactly true and authentic, who cared as long as you saw some spectacle? But this effort was different for them as it did not purport to be a documentary, nope, this was a fictional story from beginning to end.

And do you know, never mind that it took the pattern of episodic narratives the directors had honed to their approximation of perfection, but for a change it suited their material very well. Candide was ideal for that approach and if they could warp the plot even further to render it as relevant to the decade of the seventies as they saw fit, then so much the better as you couldn't accuse the parade of exploits presented for you delectation boring. Certainly it was still as trashy as their other work, perhaps a notch down from their most notorious item Goodbye, Uncle Tom which obsessed over American slavery, but you could rely on them to create some sort of visuals and statements that somebody somewhere would find offensive.

It begins as a historical yarn, and soon after we see Candido helping a statue of Atlas with his globe or lending his umbrella to a cheeping chick in a nest to keep the rain off, he is in the garden with Cunegonda where she is on a swing when suddenly she falls off and right onto the shoulders of Candido, whereupon they both discover the delights of cunnilingus. But the Baron sees this from the castle and flies into a rage, claiming Cunegonda has been deflowered and the hapless innocent is banished from the estate, leaving him to wander the land yearning to see the love of his life once again. This is where the directors' imaginations are allowed to run riot, and if nothing else it proved they made a fortune with their other movies, because Mondo Candido was incredibly lavish, as if in an attempt to outdo both Federico Fellini and Pier Paolo Pasolini at their most over the top.

Ony Jacopetti and Prosperi had an agenda to lay on the line, and that was a muddle of antiwar sentiment and would-be wisdom about the sorry state of the world and how the young are doomed to repeat the mistakes the old made when they were their age, along with the traditional cynicism about the empty promises religion offers. However, what this involves is Voltaire's characters moving from centuries past where war ravages the land to the modern times and into the future where the hippies are elderly but have taken over. In the middle Candido searches for Cunegonda in New York City where her epic orgasm with a rock star sporting a suit of armour has made headline news and a concert, then to Northern Ireland where he has heard she has joined the I.R.A. (the place looks as if it has been bombed back to medieval times), and on to Israel where attractive Jewish female soldiers feature a lot, notably in a sequence where they are gunned down in a poppy field. Remarkable, very possibly wrongheaded, but hard to look away from: only Alejandro Jodorowsky was comparable. Music by Riz Ortolani.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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