Saturday, 4 November 2017

2019: After the Fall of New York

Set in the far distant future year of 2019 we find that nuclear war has ravaged the world, and along with it humankind's prospective longevity - mutated female survivors of the holocaust are infertile.  Two political factions compete to find ways to restore mankind's ability to continue its questionable existence, one (that responsible for the bomb in the first place) sending in military personnel to New York's wasteland in search of survivors to genetically experiment with.  The other have more ambitious plans: to locate and retrieve the sole remaining fertile female, also reported to be alive in New York somewhere, before departing Earth altogether for the nearest inhabitable planet in order to restart the population using her eggs as its beginnings.  For this they acquire the skills of a rogue survivor, making a deal with him to get him off the planet too, if he can bring out the female alive.  With new companions he enters the hostile wasteland of New York in search of mankind's final hope.
Initially looking like it's going to be trash cinema of the highest order, 1983's 2019: After the Fall of New York, whilst unavoidably containing elements of cheese, is pretty good in my opinion, and featuring miniature work that's better than I expected.  It should go without saying that Carpenter's Escape from New York is obviously a huge influence on this, although influences appear to have their origins elsewhere in addition: Death Race 2000 helps to give our hero, Parsifal, his backstory, while Ridley Scott with both Blade Runner and Alien presumably kick-started the idea of human helpers turning out to be androids.  The spirit of Mad Max is also omnipresent.  On its own merits director Sergio Martino gifts the viewer a number of gory and gusto-filled setpieces, of particular note being the chaotic tunnel-bound escape from the city through increasingly threatening traps.  Prolific Italian star George Eastman also manages to make an appearance as an untrustworthy half ape/half man (leading a group of mutated individuals who now resemble cast members of Planet of the Apes).  The easily offended PC squad will want to give this a miss, for example the story's leading 'small person' is known as Shorty...  To digress, when the characters were discussing Parsifal's mission to locate the final hope in the shape of a fertile woman, I momentarily mused over the possibility that she could turn out to be obese and thoroughly undesirable, much to the chagrin of those chosen to impregnate her for the sake of the human race.  On the contrary, she of course proves to be a true Sleeping Beauty in the form of Valentine Monnier, albeit ultimately underused.  The final scenes could easily have led to a new science fiction adventure in a sequel that was never to be.

Unseen in Britain for a long time, 88 Films have blessed us with a Blu-ray that presents the film very nicely indeed in HD and widescreen, substantially outclassing the old Media Blasters DVD.  Soundtrack is English stereo (the old DVD also featured a faux 5.1 mix that is not missed here).  In terms of the package, you get - as is common for 88's Italian Collection - a reversible cover with alternative artwork (and title, which omits the '2019' prefix), an insert containing an interview with the director, and on the disc itself filmed interviews totalling forty minutes.  Code Red have put out an edition in the US with alternative extras.  Overall it's nice to see such a good looking edition of the film appear from 88 uncut (as opposed to its videotape incarnation, which was truncated in accordance with the trends of the times) and easily available to British and European audiences.

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