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Ed Wood: Hunted, despised, he perfected his own race of people, monsters and supermen, and conquered the world!,
This review is from: Ed Wood [DVD]  (DVD)
Every now and then I see a film that is just perfect, that makes me say "WOW!" and leaves a huge impression on me. And Ed Wood is just such a film.
Ed Wood is famously the worst director to ever commit his vision to celluloid in Hollywood. Though, almost fittingly, his fame and recognition as such did not occur in his life time. It is the irony of ironies that the story of the world's worst director has resulted in a truly amazing film from one of the world's best directors.
The story follows the struggling Ed Wood as he tries to launch a career in Hollywood. A chance encounter with an old hero, Bela Lugosi, leads to a partnership that is now almost as famous as that between James Stewart and Anthony Mann, though not for the same reasons. Wood casts the ailing star in his pictures, and somehow manages to find financial backers for his visions, whilst also dealing with his cross dressing.
The heart of the story is the relationship between Lugosi and Wood. I have no idea how much is fact or fiction, but what is presented on the screen is a perfectly played, perfectly written piece full of respect for both men, and at times very touching. They are seen as real friends; Wood really cares for Lugosi and is not just using him as a star name to attract financial backing. And Lugosi can see that the films are s***, but is just happy to be working and seems to realise that Wood sticks his neck out for him, and so is happy to help Wood out in return. Depp and Landau as Wood and Lugosi respectively are just brilliant. Their interaction and chemistry together is perfect and the end result is a story that entertains and moves, especially as Bela's life draws to a close. Landau is particularly impressive, delivering the pathos and bathos with a pitch perfect performance that had me hypnotised. He deserved his Oscar. But that's not all there is to this film, there is a rich tapestry of characters, all very individual and colourful, excellently depicted (step forward and take a bow Mr. Bill Murray!) and a whole series of adventures as Wood gets into one scrape after another.
Shot in black and white, and very much as homage to Wood's famous films and to Lugosi's earlier star successes, this has a real feel of an intensely personal story for Burton. It is a paean to a long past age in Hollywood history. There is also a strong message, delivered in a chance encounter with Orson Welles, that could have been Burton's motto in his early years - fight for your dreams.
It probably helps that, just like Ed Wood, I love those old Lugosi monster flicks. My wife, who has never seen any films of that ilk also really enjoyed this film, and seemed not to lose any of the enjoyment through not understanding all of the references.
It's not often a film can bring me to the edge of tears, yet still leave me feeling uplifted at the end. This is one of those films. And while I am probably never going to watch an actual Ed Wood film, I am just off to stick Lugosi's Dracula into the DVD player. 5 stars.