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April 07, 2015

Long Weekend


Colin Eggleston - 1978
Synapse Films BD Region A

There is a nice bit of visual humor in Long Weekend. A young couple, Peter and Marcia, have set up camp by a remote Australian beach. The have a tent, the kind that looks like a small cabin. Even before heading out for the weekend retreat that will supposedly help their prickly relationship, they've been fighting. The weekend has gone miserably, and they have started putting away the camping gear. The tent has been taken down, except for the metal frames. The two argue again, more violently, inside the frame work. The effect is one of a domestic scene in an staged, abstract setting. I don't know if this was what screen writer Everett De Roche was aiming for, but that's how I read this scene. That they are filmed within metal bars might also be interpreted as being in a trap or a prison. What is certain is that even in nature, Peter and Marcia are incapable of totally abandoning city life.

Long Weekend has developed a reputation over the years as an ecological horror movie. That it is, with the combination of Peter and Marcia's casual and deliberate disregard for the environment, ranging from the tossing of a lit cigarette, the spraying of insecticide, to the unnecessary chopping of a tree, and killing of a dugong, a type sea cow - all adding to karmic retribution. Peter is attacked first by an eagle, then by a small possum. The two, who have settled at their beach location through a series of wrong turns, try to escape, they find that the wooded area aways from the beach leads them to circular paths and dead ends.

The idea for the beach weekend is Peter's. Yet he is also the one who is overloaded with a rifle, harpoon and a surfboard, unable to enjoy the outdoors without extra augmentation. Marcia, more true to herself, stays within the tent to read Harold Robbins, and give herself some time for her own sexual pleasure. When Peter discovers a damaged Barbie doll on the beach, and later the remains of an abandoned camp site, there are indications that the beach itself may be hostile to outsiders. What nature does, by the end of the film, is force Peter and Marcia to face uncomfortable truths about each other.

The blu-ray includes commentary by producer Richard Brennan and cinematographer Vincent Monton, recorded around 2005. The discuss the making of the film, which looks far better than its modest budget would suggest, as well as the contributions of cast and crew members. They do mention Ivan Durrant, credited for special effects, but don't mention what may have been a joke that bears mentioning. On the way to the beach is a sign for Tolarno Abattoir. That there is a sign about an abattoir is one big hint of horrors to come. The name of the abattoir is a reference to where Durrant , more famous now for his art work, had his first exhibit. Long Weekend also ends with a shot of a truck carrying cattle, presumably on their way to slaughter. Durrant also worked in an abattoir, and raises cattle. Sometimes the footnote to making a film has information most worth gleaning.

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Posted by Peter Nellhaus at April 7, 2015 07:28 AM