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Christopher Webster [Celluloid 09.26.08] post apocalyptic

Year: 1981
Directors: Marc Caro/Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Writers: Marc Caro/Jean-Pierre Jeunet/Gilles Adrien
IMDB: link
Amazon: link
Review by: agentorange
Rating: 9 out of 10

Successful creative partnerships like the one that was forged between French auteurs Marc Caro and Jean-Pierre Jeunet way back in 1974, are extremely rare in the film world but, when they do come along, they can yield some pretty amazing cinema. Of course, since partnering on The City of Lost Children, the gallic wonder twins have left the comforts of their shared creative womb and gone onto pursue their own projects (Jeunet tackling Amelie and A Very Long Engagement, and Caro the recently released scifi flick Dante 01). Recently, the good people at Optimum Releasing have put out a new collection called The Jeunet/Caro Collection which brings together their crucial tag-teams and allows us to looking back at their awe inspiring achievements. Of course, like most of you, I've seen Delicatessen and City of Lost Children so many times that I could probably recite them back verbatim, so I've decided to keep my commentary strictly on their amazing curio, The Bunker of the Last Gunshots.

The Bunker of the Last Gunshots is a truly brilliant 25 minute short the two made in 1981. It chronicles the final days of a bunch of soldiers who go a tad loco with cabin fever waiting to fight an enemy that never comes. Because the film is mostly silent, any details of when exactly the film takes place are impossible to pinpoint, however there are a few clues that make me think the characters are actually living in a post-apocalyptic world where the war is over and they are in fact the last survivors. There's a whole sequence where the characters leave the bunker and venture outside into a devastated landscape fully equipped with gas masks. During the trip, one of them falls and his apparatus breaks, the poison air killing him. There is also a certain irony that shines through in the film which would totally jive with my opinion on this. Based on the landscape I also thought they were perhaps on the moon or something but that's probably not right.

As you would expect, the film is extremely stylized in fact if, it weren't for a few stop motion FX sequences, you couldn't be blamed for thinking this was an early effort by Fritz Lang or some other German flick from those heady expressionistic Ufa days. Of course the story is also laden with extremely Faschisistic images. German style military uniforms, bald headed totalitarianism, and weird nazi style pseudo science makes the connection almost impossible to miss.

For the already converted Caro / Jeunet fan though, the most interesting aspect of viewing The Bunker of the Last Gunshots will no doubt be witnessing how the two had already honed the iconic imagery and styles that they would later become famous for. Caro's Dante 01 was recently released on R2 DVD and it was amazing to note how little his vision has changed. His budgets may have gone up and the FX may be polished but the ideas are still the same. The cramped space station where bald headed mental patients loose their minds in Dante 01 is essentially another realization of The Bunker, while the cyberpunk visuals of bald heads grotesquely violated with wires attached to them hasn't lost any of its viseral power. This'll sound totally corn ball but finding The Bunker of the Last Gunshots was like finding a diamond in your back yard. It's a rare cinematic gem that I'm extremely grateful for finding. Thanks Optimum!

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Yoga Punguin (13 years ago) Reply

Thanks for this review. I'm trying to find this with other films I don't have but I think I'm going to have to buy "Bunker" with this collection.

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