Wednesday, August 18, 2010
THE CARS THAT ATE PARIS (1974) - Peter Weir
Alternative Title: "The Worst Little Speed Trap in Australia."
From Mad Max to The Road Warrior to Dead-End Drive In, the Aussies have always had a knack for big screen vehicular mayhem. But never have I seen the term "car culture" taken more literally than in this odd, interesting little first feature from director Peter Weir.
In the small backwater bypass town of Paris, Australia, the local economy entirely revolves around car crashes...intended car crashes devised and overseen by the mayor. Like a roach motel for wayward motorists, out-of-towners check in but they don't check out. The dazed protagonist here is just one of many unlucky drivers who has his auto smashed, looted and pillaged. As much as he tries to escape, survivor's guilt (his brother was killed in the crash) and a host of other strange circumstances always keep him at bay. Eventually, an ill-advised parking ordinance by the mayor stirs the otherwise pacified locals into rebellion in the form of tricked-out junker cars that often resemble porcupines.
I know this strange little film is an allegory for something, I'm just not sure exactly what. It's the '70s, so let's say Vietnam just for the heck of it. Either way, Cars is interesting alternative viewing and mercifully short for an experimental film. You could probably even knock it out on your daily commute.