Thursday, June 5, 2008

THE RULING CLASS (Peter Medak, 1972, UK) Peter Medak’s Monty Python-esque militant parody is a scathing attack and indictment of the British noblesse oblige and the infantile beliefs of religion. Peter O’Toole is the paranoid schizophrenic black sheep of the family who thinks he is Jesus Christ incarnate. When his father dies (in a masturbatory auto-erotic asphyxiation scene) he is left the entire estate…but the family has other plans. The uncle comes up with a foolproof plan to have his nephew marry his mistress, father a child, then have him committed to an insane asylum. To cure him of his god-complex, his psychiatrist has him battle the Electric Messiah (another patient from the asylum) in a violent and hilariously original scene in which he loses. When he acknowledges his real name Jack, he seems to be cured. But he actually becomes Jack The Ripper, murders his aunt, and condemns the butler for the act. Now that Jack is “perfectly normal” he fits right in to the British Elite and joins the House Of Lords. Excellent! The film plays like some bizarre stream-of-consciousness and much of the dialogue seems improvised, insane, and refreshingly idiosyncratic. O’Toole hangs from his cross and spouts religious non-sense and non-sequiturs with the invigorating belief of any priest on Sunday Mass. He is crazy when he teaches love but Society only accepts him when he becomes a homicidal maniac. The final scene with the decaying corpses in the House Of Lords is fantastic! THE RULING CLASS is filmed like a classic television show with many close-up and few edits. Though I believe it could have been edited for a shorter run-time this is still a must see film for all intelligent and freethinking cinephiles. (B)

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