Wednesday, October 24, 2012

"Something Wicked This Way Comes" (1983)

This is certainly a flawed film. Disney apparently butchered the original vision following test audience screenings and some scenes were filmed up to a year later. (As is clearly apparent as the young actors had gone through puberty in that year.) That being said, this film has a high degree of charm, message and effective nostalgia, making it well worth a viewing.

It is one of the best Americana stories of good vs. evil where evil uses desire to trap its victims. It is a study of temptation.

The story takes place in a small town one autumn when a mysterious, magical carnival shows up one night. Two boys begin to suspect that something is wrong with the carnival as most of the adults in town begin to disappear. Mr. Dark, the carnival’s owner seems to be able to discern every customer’s greatest wish and using that desire, he manages to get them all to willingly give themselves to him.

In the film the carnival is driven away by a storm, and the key to avoiding Mr. Dark’s death or slavery or whatever it is, is to resist it.

Of course, a more accurate depiction of the real battle we face against evil would have to show that everybody in the world is already enslaved by their desires and subject to inescapable evil. No storm or other natural event will solve this problem, and we cannot really resist. What we need is a heroic figure, absent in Bradbury’s story, who will destroy the power of evil and give us the means to at least learn to resist.

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