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May 02, 2018

Moon Child

moon child blu.jpg

El Nino de la Luna
Augusti Villaronga - 1989
Cult Epics BD Regions ABC/Region 0 DVD two disc set

Augusti Villaronga's film was inspired by a 1923 novel by Aleister Crowley. Cinematically, Crowley is better known for his influence on the films by Kenneth Anger, usually depicting ancient and esoteric religious rituals. And it is possible that my own reaction to Moon Child is deeply subjective, but it helps to have some knowledge of the origins of the story. The title character is a young Spanish boy who claims to be the fulfillment of a prophesy, that he is to lead a tribe in a remote part of Africa. The trope of the white savior is markedly archaic at this time. Villaronga incorporates personal themes of otherness into his work, sexually as a gay filmmaker, and politically with his father's memories of the Spanish Civil War. Even for a fantasy, the racial element of the premise provides a challenge in appreciating Villaronga's film on its own terms.

The film takes place in what appears to be Spain in the 1930s. David, on the cusp of adolescence, has been told be a mysterious woman that he is the Moon Child, and his destiny is in Africa. David is suspected of having psychic abilities, and is taken by Victoria, distinguished by her Louise Brooks style bob, to an institute run by a severe directress. The unnamed institute appears to be run fascists based on style of clothing worn. Among the test subjects at the institute, Edgar and Georgina are chosen to mate to create a perfect being. Overhearing that the test subjects are to be murdered, David plans his escape. What follows are events that straddle the line between prophesy fulfillment and coincidence.

A recent video interview with Villaronga is included here, helping put Moon Child in the context of the filmmaker's intentions. Younger viewers may have trouble with some of the obviously dated special effects, suggesting that Villaronga's ambitions outweighed the some of tools available to him at the time. The film features an original scored by Dead Can Dance, primarily instrumental, with only a small amount of Lisa Gerrard's signature vocals. That score can also be heard as a standalone supplement. Additionally, Villaronga cast Gerrard in the role of Georgina, more unusual as Gerrard is not an actress, nor does she speak Spanish. Gerrard was fearless here, by turns loopy and wide-eyed, and unafraid to be completely nude. Victoria was portrayed by Maribel Martin, more widely seen in several Spanish horror classics including The Blood-Spattered Bride and The House that Screamed. Lucia Bose, the star of several Italian and Spanish classics in the early 1950s, appears here as the directress.

Posted by Peter Nellhaus at May 2, 2018 07:53 AM