Volume 91, Issue 61

Friday, January 16, 1998

Mr. Rogers


Cultures meet at this cafe

©Graphic by Janice Olynich

By Lisa Weaver
Gazette Staff

The American West is often characterized in popular culture by the greasy spoon diner situated in the middle of the dusty desert. Add a handful of mismatched characters and prevailing cultural stereotypes and you have the latest film to be presented at the International Film Festival in the McKellar Room of the University Community Centre.

Bagdad Café, a 1988 American film from director Percy Adlon, has a basic and straightforward plot. A German tourist splits with her husband and ends up meeting the inhabitants of the Bagdad Oil and Gas Bar/Café/Motel. The film, however simple in plot, is complex in character development and cinematography.

The characters, including Jasmin (Marianne Sagebrecht), the German housewife on holiday, are motivated by forces which arise out of the stereotypes surrounding them. Brenda (CCH Pounder, Prizzi's Honor), the manager of Bagdad Café, is a strong woman – but her impatience and paranoia allow for sloppy work and rudeness on in her character. Jack Palance plays the part of an out-of-work Hollywood set painter/philosopher who haunts the café and offers a calm, quiet perspective to the situation. Other characters float in and out of the surreal scene, offering comic relief and bizarre insight into the often tense feel of the film.

Bagdad Café is filled with unique camera angles, intense symbolism and beautiful cinematography. Although the actual storyline is slow at times, the visual effect created by the film is mesmerizing and worth seeing. A surreal feeling of being inside a painting by Salvador Dali is created through the use of colour, music and repeated motifs throughout the film.

Bagdad Café is the fourth film to be shown as part of the International Film Series, which is sponsored by the University Students' Council and International/Exchange Student Affairs. The viewing is free of charge and will be held Jan. 18 at 2 p.m..

The application of this year's theme, Visions of Displacement, will be discussed and the conflicting national identities depicted in Bagdad Café will follow the screening. Alan Gedalof, a professor in the department of English and Simon Linke, a fourth-year Ecology and German exchange student, will be co-hosting the event.

Two films remain in the film series for this season. Going Down the Road will be shown on Feb. 8 and Floating Life on March 8.

To Contact The Arts and Entertainment Department: gazent@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright © The Gazette 1998