DISCLAIMER - My blog is an attempt to show respect to films some small minded, intellectually dishonest hipsters automatically label "bad". There is no film I discuss here that I believe to be bad at all. The title of the blog comes from a discussion that took place some years ago when I was trying to explain the appeal of these films. The title is not meant to suggest I think these films are bad in the least. Remember - ART IS ART!
Some films are, sadly, simply before their time. One film that comes to mind is Shock Treatment. However, another film that was simply ahead of it's time is the brilliant Menahem Golan film - The Apple. Set in the year 1994, the film revolves around the trials, tribulations and temptations of a duo from Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Alphie (George Gilmour) and Bibi (Catherine Mary Stewart), competing in a a Eurovision type singing competition called Worldvision. We see quite early in the film that BIM (Boogalow International Music) head Mr. Boogalow (Vladek Sheybal) is willing to be less than fair to make sure his duo Dandi and Pandi win the competition.
Although Alphi and Bibi did not win the competition, Mr. Boogalow still has big plans for them... or at least for Bibi. It is at this point in the film, where the story goes from standard rock opera to Judeo-Christian allegory. However, the thematic turn the film takes is far from subtle and, I suspect, played some part in it's initial critical pillory. However, when I look back on films from the late 70s and early 80s, subtlety is certainly not something they are known for.
Many of the competitors arrive at the home of Mr. Boogalow where they are essentially forced to wear "BIM marks" and as the picture goes on, other visual cues begin to provide a more sinister impression of Mr. Boogalow and his "BIM Family". In time we are presented with a scene that takes place in Hell where Mr. Boogalow and his assistant Mr. Shake (brilliantly performed by Ray Shell) present Bibi with "The Apple" and encourage her to take it and eat it.
Eventually, Bibi's desire for fame is stronger than Alphie's ability to warn her about the path she is going down. The duo split and go their separate ways to live their specific Hell. At this point the film has a number called "Cry for Me" that, in fact, is very moving. It's a strong song and sold by Catherine Mary Stewart and George Gilmour. I believe if you have ever been separated from someone either by choice or chance the song and that segment of the film will affect you.
The religious symbolism continues until the end of the film. Watch for the wonderful Joss Ackland as the Hippie leader Mr. Topps to bring the film to its ultimate Biblical conclusion.
As I've mentioned, the film is about as subtle as a gold brick to the back of the head. Nevertheless, I find myself enthralled with this film. I believe as cautionary tales go it is sound, although, I believe I perceived some possible homophobia in some of the parts of the film, mostly in background characters and some of the visual points the film was trying to make. But, I give the film kudos for predicting the future must the same way Shock Treatment did. Although, the film misses the mark regarding what technology and fashion would be like only 14 years later - it certainly felt to me as if it was spot on regarding the desire for fame for fame's sake.
Although the Eurovision singing completion has been a staple since 1956, I also see the rise of such time wasters as American Idol and The Voice in this film. A world controlled by essentially a single media conglomerate deciding what is art, what you'll listen to and what you'll watch. I believe the 1994 of The Apple is similar to the 2015 of today in that you have 500 channels to watch, with 492 of them controlled by the same three media firms. How is that choice? And why have we let it come to that?
If you read about this film on IMDB or Rotten Tomatoes you'll find very few kind words about the sound track. However, I found, with the exception of the first two numbers, most of the film's music is not bad. I have found myself humming 3 or 4 of the songs when I'm driving or just at work. The piece I mentioned earlier, "Cry for Me" is good as are "Showbizness" – Vladek Sheybal & Ray Shell and "How to Be a Master" – Vladek Sheybal, Grace Kennedy, Allan Love & Ray Shell.
The film is available currently on NetFlix and Amazon Prime. I'd encourage you to check it out with a fun and open mind and I think you'll discover a lost nugget that deserves some praise.