Box Head Revolution

The premise is simple enough. On a planet much like Earth, but less advanced, an evil scumbag called The Controller has taken hold of society. Identity has been wiped out, and everyone walks around wearing masks on their faces. Those deemed to be unsociable, for a variety of reasons, find themselves in a sort of free prison, their heads enclosed in a small box with mesh covering, so the prisoners can still be productive members of the workforce. Two lovers, Gritt and Brythle, dream of a new society, one with values much like humans on our planet. Returning from one sojourn to the desolate desert, the pair come across the burning wreckage of the space probe Voyager, its golden record of Earth greetings still intact. Gritt, however, is captured by the Controller’s squad of Regulators, and the relics are brought to the leader, who thinks the messages are a response to transmissions he has been making to the universe. Gritt is able to escape from his jail, and inadvertently unleashes a revolution across the land when he broadcasts a portion of the Earth record through the public address system.

If films could truly spawn, Box Head Revolution is the film that would be the child of David Lynch’s Eraserhead and Richard Elfman’s Forbidden Zone. Unlike the mass manufactured new digital cinema sprung forth by the already established like Ethan Hawke and Richard Linklater, Mr. Christensen and company have taken the principles of 1960s independent filmmaking to heart and made a film that doesn’t just thumb its nose at the establishment but flips it the bird… and drops trau just in case they didn’t get the message the first time around. The characters speak English, but they way they speak is unique unto themselves. The masks they were go from the simple (a paper plate with small slits for the eye and a flap in the nasal region) to the intricate (The Controller’s mask includes a zoom lens). And every so often, characters break out in joyous dance to the music on the soundtrack. The sound is wildly uneven and the images are often dark, slightly out of focus and often go out of frame. I can only assume this was a personal choice of the director’s, as the print I screened was presented in digital video. If these technical glitches were not meant to be part of the show, that would be a shame, as they did add to my admittedly strange enjoyment of the film.

The star of the film is Mr. Christensen. His name is all over the credits, as cowriter, producer, director, editor, set designer and sound recorder, in addition to his playing The Controller. In the best traditions of independent filmmaking, he has taken advantage of every faculty at his availability and create a unique world. There are crane shots, helicopter shots and following the characters like Darren Aronofsky shots. There are functional automobiles made (and sometimes blown up) specifically for the movie. And there are unique looking contraptions that must be seen to be believed. For a film that visually looks like it cost $500 to make, it’s very impressive.

Sadly, this film will probably not receive any kind of decent release. And the few who will see Box Head Revolution will likely either really enjoy themselves or walk out in disgust. But either way, you will react in some manner, and in this day and age of homogonized, sanitized for your protection entertainment, who could ask for anything morer

Box Head Revolution gets a B for effort and a B for execution.

77 minutes. 1.33:1. Mono.

Rating: B
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