Sunday, August 10, 2014

Who Wants to Kill Jessie?/Kdo chce zabít Jessii? (1966)

Note:  This review was originally posted to my Epinions account.

We’ve all had dreams that have seemed real.  When we awake, it may either be a relief or a disappointment depending on the dream.  Dr. Ruzenka Beránková has found a way to not only monitor dreams but to replace a bad dream with a good one.  She demonstrates on a cow who’s dreaming of being chased by flies.  After injecting her serum, the cow begins to dream of laying in a hammock while some people play music for her.  It seems to have worked.  Some of the people in the room are bothered by some flies, but the connection isn’t made immediately.   It isn’t until she tries it on her husband that it becomes painfully obvious.

Dr. Jindrich Beránek is trying to create some antigravity gloves that he saw in a comic book.  He becomes so obsessed with it that he dreams of it one night.  When his wife finds out, she wakes him up and gives him an injection of her serum.  He goes back to bed only to awake to one of the comic-book characters.  What’s really embarrassing about it is that of the three characters,  it’s the attractive female that he wakes up next to.  (Also in the apartment are the Evil Superman character and his cowboy henchman, each in a separate room.)  Poor Jindrich has no idea how he’s going to explain this to his wife.

The antigravity gloves don’t appear, which is very unfortunate.  Evil Superman still wants them and expects Jessie (the beautiful woman of Jindrich's dream) to produce.  Well, Jendrich and Ruzenka go off to work simply leaving the comic-book people locked in the apartment.  They escape, drawing attention and causing havoc wherever they go.  The husband and wife have to figure out what to do.  The husband wants to hide Jessie while the wife wants to send the two men somewhere where they won’t cause as much trouble.

When it’s discovered what happened, the husband is held responsible for creating the three new ‘people’.  His sentence is three days in jail, but he’s so obsessed with the gloves that he breaks out of jail.  (He apparently goes unnoticed by his jailors.)  Meanwhile, the wife is working on what to do with the three dream characters.  They try incinerating the superman character, but he survives and goes on to do more harm.  Eventually, everything does work out; she does come up with a solution that works.

Overall, it was a very goofy movie.  The comic-book characters talk in bubbles, not unlike an actual comic-book character would.  (In court, the bubble has to be turned so that the judge can look at it.)  Jessie does eventually learn how to actually talk, but it’s not until late in the movie.  Also, the video of the cow being chased by the flies in her dream was kind of funny.  It was sped up and reversed, which made it look like there was little control over speed and direction.

One thing that annoyed me was the opening title sequence, which was done comic-book style.  Being a foreign film, the text needed subtitles.  This became distracting.  I was thankful that this was the only scene done this way.  The subtitles weren’t as distracting throughout the rest of the film, but they were out of synch at several points.  (This was mostly due to people doing a lot of talking at once.)

At the very least, it’s an interesting premise.  Where do we draw the line between dreams and reality?  Also, if those dreams should come to life, how do we treat those dreams and who do we hold responsible?  Jessie, the Superman and the Henchman don’t really have any legal standing.  As a lawyer put it, if the husband had been dreaming of his wife, we wouldn’t have a problem.  However, this was done without his knowledge.  The wife should have at least known the side effects or known better than to use it on a human.  (And her husband of all people.)  I would have at least held the wife partially responsible.  She was the one that made his dreams come true.

The movie ran for only 80 minutes.  I could have seen it being made a little shorter, but I don’t think it ran too long at all.  I don’t know that I would have bought it, but it was worth renting from Netflix.  If you can get it, I’d recommend giving it a shot. 

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