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[Sorry: My LJ is not letting me put this behind a cut!].

As you may know, the English actor, John Hurt, died recently - (at the same time that, 1984, and so one of his movies, Nineteen Eighty Four, are becoming popular again, in the age of post-truth*). We've all seen him in important movies, but I never really committed the name to memory. I am better acquainted with my favourite blues artist, Mississippi John Hurt. I kinda hoped that maybe I might find a movie of his at the library soon, to see if he was whom I thought he was. Turns out that one fell into my hands quite by accident, (along with a William Hurt movie or two).  It was, "Cry of the Penguins," (AKA, Mr. Forbush and the Penguins), wherein a rich, womanising cad ends up studying penguins in Antarctica, which turns him into a better man.

Here is the best place to find a summary of it. (You might be able to stream it from this site, not sure).

This is an odd, childish, interesting movie. As the DVD transfer was so bad, I first thought that the movie might have been from the Silent Age. It was off-colour. But, it turned out to have been made in 1971.  It begins by following a rich Biology student, who lollygags about London, looking for beer and girls.  His appearance is ridiculous, because he is totally MOD, with long hair and silly 1960's clothes.  The comedy is so subdued as to be almost non-existent. The jokes are banal, yet English. However, there seems to be one or two witty jokes buried so quietly, that they may be considered brilliant witticisms, except for the fact that they may go unnoticed.

The "MOD" scene in London was in the mid-later 1960's.  It came from around the time of the Beatles, "Hard Day's Night," and Peter Sellers, and Twiggy, and seems to have moved through psychodelia towards the Glam Rock era.  But, by 1968/69, it was starting to go, along with the hippies.  Certainly, by 1971, after all the assassinations, and with the anger over Vietnam, it was dead.

So - I think this partly explains why, "Cry of the Penguins," was a relative flop: It was all mod, and so behind the times when it was released.  It wasn't released in the USA until 1973.  I don't know when the original book was written, maybe like 1965, but this "hip" movie must have just taken too long to be made.  That is supported by the fact that the beginning was redone; a new lead actress was put in, and there were several directors.  That seems odd, because it was such a simple movie.  But it was all the penguin footage which was mainly the problem.

This movie is no, "March of the Penguins," (a documentary).  It is crude, by comparison.  However, I must say, it managed to somehow capture many of the same looks at penguin life: A huge blizzard; returning to the same nests from last year; the courtship behaviour; the leopard seal; the human-like squabbling, and the stark existence.  However, they did mess with the penguins.  A helicopter in the movie was obviously trying to scare away the great mass of penguins, which it certainly succeeded in doing.  One penguin in the movie had to be sacrificed for science, and apparently it was actually sacrificed for the movie itself.  And, John Hurt himself told how the crew actually dined on penguins.

Inhumanity not forgiven, that was a different time.  And the final message of the movie was that mankind is being stupid in trying to kill either penguins or their predators, because every animal depends on the existence and role of every other animal, (so that a kind of equilibrium is maintained).  This was the same message of, "March of the Penguins," albeit a little less evolved.  That was back when the English Empire was assumed to have been something of a good thing for the planet, and the Emperor Penguin, prior to the gaseous hangover called Climate Change.

By the time of the movie's release, in the beginning of the 1970's, its important environmental message would have been right-on, and progressive, despite the movie's other flaws.

Interestingly, I also watched, "A Beautiful Mind," about famous mathematician, John FORBES Nash, (game theory), who was a kind of lost genius-innocent, (like the kid in, "Artificial Intelligence").  This movie was also partly set in the late 1960's.  Nash also learns to be a better man - by eschewing the desires in his wanton mind - for schizophrenic hallucinations.  And Nash comes up with a game-theory version of the same kind of natural equilibrium I mentioned above, which is famously called, "The Nash Equilibrium."

John Hurt's character, Mr. Forbush, starts off his landlocked adventure in a large cabin stocked with wine and fancy clothes.  His struggle, in some ways, reminds me of my own.  I may not always have been fighting valiantly against severe winter winds, keeping a frozen upper lip, but I've had more than my share of it.  And, most of my life has been analogous to such a lame-ass, unnecessary struggle.  And, my life has not so much been an adventure as a fanciful little imprisonment - something that RLS, the boy, would have understood.  With the main antagonist being intrepid Time, (and the crazy bald guy downstairs).

And, I have indeed lived through years without heat, waiting for global warming to kick in enough to save me.  Finally, I do look a little like the early John Hurt, with long hair now, but having less of a tired, puffy face, despite my CFS, and all its Hurt.  God knows I love my fancy clothes.  And wine.

To continue...

Forbush continues his silly studies, and learns to empathize with the penguins.  He becomes protective and a tad insane.  He endures demanding conditions previously alien to his awareness, and he seems to eschew the more carnal desires of his wanton mind.  It seems that his girl up in London is losing interest in him and his madness.  But she ultimately loves how he has matured as a person.

A curious thing: I think this movie, (i.e.), book, was originally inspired by an idea that a roguish bloke who lusts for and misuses, "birds," i.e., females, goes to learn a life lesson by having to respect actual birds in nature.  Huh?  Probably!  I know how those crafty writers think.

See also movie, "Alfie," (1966) - a mod sort-of classic.  For possible access to, "Cry of the Penguins," try the underlined link above, or try YouTube, eBay, Library.

* - This phenomenon happens often. Carrie Fisher died as her book was out, and her cameo in Rogue One made headlines. Bowie and Cohen died with the release of their last albums. And so on. But people more often die when some emotional thing satisfies them, such as winning an important prize, or seeing a child succeed or marry, etc. Or, some emotional thing can shock them into dying, such as the death of a mate, or the election of Donald Trump.

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