Thursday, May 22, 2008
Chappaqua: A Film by Conrad Rooks 1966
Amazon User Film Review:
CHAPPAQUA, winner of the 1966 Venice Silver Lion, is a cinematic slice of '60's avant-garde, with director Conrad Rooks in the main role of this semi-autobiographical tale told mostly in dramatic, shifting, cinema verite images with sparse dialogue. Such famous figures as William S. Burroughs(addict-author of NAKED LUNCH), poet Allen Ginsberg, guru Swami Satchidanda, et al, drift in & out of the planes of consciousness depicted in this struggle for escape from the torments of alcoholism and drug experimentation & addiction. I actually bought this video for the soundtrack, which came out on vinyl in 1968 with great fanfare but has not yet been released on CD. Most of the music was composed and played by Ravi Shankar, who also appears in the movie. The score is an excellent fusion of Indian ragas and talas with Western jazz. Others heard and seen in the movie (that are not on the original LP) include Ornette Coleman and the Fugs. The cinematography is excellent, extremely imaginative and varied, with international, on-location shots of many of the popular hip & religious spots of 1965-66. Much of the style in CHAPPAQUA, particularly the way that numerous philosophical and dramatic ideas are presented visually, original in its day, was later emulated by other directors, such as Roger Corman (THE TRIP)and Peter Fonda (EASY RIDER). CHAPPAQUA is a definitive weird ride through a wild time in history played out in psychological drama with few words. If you experienced that era (as I did), you'll see it like it was. If you didn't, this is the next best thing to being there -- and a whole lot safer. But fasten your seatbelt anyway...