Before we begin the screening, we’d like to remind everyone to please vote in the thread below for the 2006 Write Like a Wingnut Contest, because after wading through Christopher Lambert in Druids you’re going to want to kill yourself, and we are legally enjoined from tabulating any ballots cast by dead people outside the limits of Cook County, Illinois.
And now, in honor of Springtime we present:
Directed by: Jacques Dorfmann
Written by: Jacques Dorfmann
Tagline: His people made him a leader. The empire made him a renegade. History made him a hero.
Facts made him a loser. This film is better known in Europe, were it was a huge hit, as Vercingétorix, the name of an ancient Gallic leader who is apparently much revered in France for getting his ass kicked by Caesar. And according to Christian Spotlight on the Movies, Jacques Dorfmann is actually not a filmmaker (quelle surprise) but a historian who dramatized the Gallic Wars with a scrupulous attention to period detail.
So, the story you are about to see is true. The names have been changed, because they?re all really stupid (Vercingétorix? Dumnorix? Why not Archaeoptyrix? Or Aviatrix? Or Trixareforkids?)
As with all films about First Century pagans, we begin in space, where a spermatozoa the size of a Schwan’s truck is attempting to fertilize the moon. This goes on for awhile, with the jizz rebuffed by each object in near earth orbit (although it does manage to get to second base with the Hubble) until it finally mistakes the Sun for an ovum and dives into the corona screaming “Yeeeeee-HA!”
The viewer may well wonder about the relevance of giant orbital sperm to a film about Caesar’s campaigns in Gaul, but the significant becomes clear when auteur Jacques Dorfmann appends the words, “For my Father” to the credits, and we realize this sequence is actually his family’s earliest home movies. (“I had a happy blastocythood. As a zygote, I idolized my father, but was tormented by doubts that I could ever be even half the man is was, since it would require growing about 8 trillion more cells?”)
Finally, the camera makes its way to Earth. It’s the year 60 B.C.; white muslin robes are all the rage, gods are plentiful, and Stonehenge still has that new henge smell. A querulous pagan buttonholes “Arch Druid Bukkake” (well, that’s what it sounded like) and says, “We?re dying! What should we do?”
Bukkake points out the space spooge passing overhead and cries, “Behold! The sign of the coming of the king!” Because even though all men (except Ben Shapiro) spill their seed, only royalty can get that kind of hang time. The Arch Druid declaims: “Every people, every tribe needs its legend. And every battle needs its hero.” He doesn?t go on to specify that every party needs its pooper, but the implication hangs heavy in the air. He then says, “I must go seek him out!” and hails a passing canoe.
It’s now some years later, and we find ourselves in Gergovia, which, judging by the glazed terra cotta roofs and stucco texture coating, appears to be a Master Planned Community somewhere in the O.C. Probably off the 405 near Irvine.
12-year old Vercingétorix is showing off the barn to 10-year old Joey Potter, and assuring her that when he is king, as prophesized by Arch Druid Bukkake, all this will be hers (“What, the curtains?”). But before he can convince her to play doctor (or barber, I guess), Vercingétorix’s dad is locked in a biffy by his brother and set on fire. Father and son make eye contact as Dad gets broasted alive, and young Vercingétorix glares at his uncle and declares, “I will kill you, Gorbaniccio. I will kill you,” in the same vague, distracted way a kid playing Madden NFL 06 promises to the mow the lawn as soon as he finishes the game.
Dissolve to the adult Vercingétorix (Christopher Lambert of Highlander infamy). Chris sits staring into a fire, repeating his oath of vengeance and reliving his father’s horrible death by immolation; considering he lives in a society where open flames are omnipresent, he must relieve it about 50 times a day, which probably accounts for the utterly bored look on his face.
Chris leaves his hut, a traveling bag thrown over his shoulder, and emerges into daylight, giving us a chance to fully admire his Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer wig. Arch Druid Bukkake notices the bag, and can immediately tell from Chris’s expression that he’s overdosed on Botox.
“It?s time for me to do what I must,” declares Chris. But Bukkake says, “You’re not ready.” Considering that Chris is 44 years old, and Vercingétorix was 26 when he died, he may actually be a little bit past his shelf life. But since the movie started in 60 B.C., and it’s now 45 B.C., they probably figured they could just wait while he aged backwards far enough.
Anyway, the “you’re not ready to face your destiny” speech leads to the inevitable training montage, as Bukkake takes Chris to meet Yoda (at this performance, the role of Yoda will be played by a tall, rangy French MILF). Naturally Chris gets his ass kicked, as the Amazonian warrior skillfully out-edits him. (The alternating use of speeded up and slow motion footage during the duel makes the film look like a combination of Kenneth Branagh’s Henry V and The Benny Hill Show.)
Chris decides that getting his ass kicked in 30 seconds by a girl means he’s ready to take on the Roman Empire. Bukkake sighs, “Just don’t abandon the path of knowledge when you take the road of action.” Chris is deeply moved by this admonition, and swears that no matter what the cost, he will get his G.E.D.
Chris thumbs a ride with Caesar, and they have one of those “We’re going to be mortal enemies one day so let’s be BFFs now so it’s totally poignant when I kill you” conversations. After a discussion of public works (Caesar points out that all roads lead to Rome. Also aqueducts. Also roads. And uh — roads), Chris thanks the big guy for the horse and takes the next off-ramp to Gergovia, where his destiny lies.
This is the moment he has trained and studied for all his life. The ultimate test of his manly honor and warrior’s prowess as he confronts his uncle — the man who killed his father – and decides the fate of their people in a titanic struggle to the death.
Turns out, Vengeance is a breeze. Chris rides his horse into the Cheiftain’s Hall, borrows a spear from one of the guards, approaches his uncle’s throne with the air of a guy delivering a bouquet of carnations and a Mylar birthday balloon, and basically says, “Hi! I’ve come to stick this thing in you. Is that okay?” His uncle sits there with a mildly perplexed expression that seems to say, “Really? Stick me with a spear? What could he mean by that? Is that even a sentence? And shouldn’t the horse be outside?” Then Chris listlessly jams the spear into the old man’s shoulder, while the other nobles seated at high table exchange vague looks (“Um…Was that Vengeance? Or has the floor show started? And where’s our mozzarella sticks?”).
Meanwhile, all the tribal chieftains of Gaul are gathered in Boulogne, where Caesar is hosting a Britain Invading Seminar, and selling his self-motivational scrolls. Chris shows up, having acquired an army of followers and Hulk Hogan’s mustache. Caesar invites him over for potluck, where Chris is reunited with the now grownup Joey Potter, who has been taken prisoner by the Romans and brutally and repeatedly dubbed.
Then a bunch of First Century B.C. politics goes on, which manages to be both Byzantine before there was a Byzantium, and incredibly boring, sort of like sitting through a Druidic Zoning Commission meeting (“Next on the agenda is item #417, an amendment to Section VIII-A of the Building Code requiring that all new henge construction (defined as any work for which a county permit was issued between Lughnasadh-3 and Dublachd-5) will meet the attached standards mandating a minimum vertical clearance of 13 rods…”) The upshot is, Chris finds out that the Romans were responsible for his father’s slow-roasted, fire-brewed taste, and he retaliates by sending Caesar’s horse back to him, saying, “Return to Caesar that which is Caesar’s.” (So! Considering that this is roughly the year 45 B.C., it seems that Christ stole that line from him.)
Chris returns to his birthplace of Gergovia, but the villagers close the gates and pretend they’re not home. Bereft, Chris goes to see Yoda, who tells him that Arch Druid Bukkake has gone to that Great Japanese Fetish Website in the Sky, even though he’s standing right there and insisting that he’s not dead. Ignoring him, Yoda says, “Brother and sister of the sword!” This is a signal for she and Chris to stab their own hands, take a sip of blood, and start to make out.
Chris musters an army of peasants with twigs and demonstrates his military genius by conquering Gergovia in a swift, bloody assault while still somehow managing to avoid an action sequence. (Except for a shot of Chris wanly hacking through a succession of whisper-thin chorus boys from the Gergovia Light Opera production of “Dames at Sea.”)
The raped and wounded villagers are so grateful to Chris for sacking them, that they immediately declare him king by waving cleft sticks in the air, which was apparently the First Century B.C. equivalent of those giant foam fingers. Personally, I can’t get that worked up about it, but they seem excited so — okay. Fine. That’s our big finish. Enjoy your gumboils and cholera. Now where’s that Netflix envelope?
Oh crap. Apparently being the king of Loserville isn’t enough, and now the bewigged, Botox-faced nitwit wants to go get all up in Caesar’s grill. Great.
Chris decides to drive the Romans back across the Alps. In order to win the trust and loyalty of the other tribes, and inspire all of Gaul to rally ’round him, he burns down their homes and destroys all their crops. (In 2003, President George W. Bush was seen boarding Air Force One with a copy of Vercingétorix’s seminal treatise on War, “Love Me or I’ll Tell My Army to Set You on Fire.” Now a Major Motion Picture!)
Chris shows up at Avaricum (Latin for “Bird Sperm”) and tells the residents to evacuate before he burns the place down. A young woman with a baby in her arms says, “A life for a city.” She tosses a knife to Chris and invites him to stab her son, which makes no sense because killing the kid isn’t going to keep the Romans from conquering the place and destroying it anyway. Unfortunately, Chris caught the knife by the blade, and he’s concentrating so hard on not screaming and bursting into tears that he’s having a hard time doing the math.
The predictable happens: Chris spares the town and Caesar kills every man, woman, and child living there, so enraging the Gauls that they dispatch the Oak Ridge Boys to tell Chris he’s a moron.
Even worse, the Romans besiege Gergovia, but the valiant defenders strike back by dropping chickens on them, and the battlefield is reduced to a nightmarish cacophony of screams and clucks.
The Romans regroup, but the woman of the town pull up their shirts and flash their boobs at the attackers, and suddenly it’s Gauls Gone Wild! The charge fails, as distracted Centurions scramble around looking for more quarters, or pause to shout, “Put ‘em on the glass!”
Chris wins, but later his closest friends and advisors are massacred by Teutons, who are apparently cheesed off because their tribal henna rinse turned out way too carroty and left them looking less like fierce northern warriors, and more like the late 60′s-era Lucille Ball.
Reeling from grief, Chris enters a room where his surviving retainers are engaged in a theological discussion of the local deities. He stares at everyone for a moment, and then says, “You crack yourself up, Fancy Helmet?”
I’ve watched this scene about five times now, and I still have absolutely no idea what this sentence means. But you know what? I don’t want to know. It’s perfect just as it is.
Trapped by the encircling legions, Chris sends word for his troops to rush to his aid and meet the Romans on the field of honor, and at last secure freedom and dignity for all of Gaul, but they’re washing their hair. Desperate, Chris hatches a last-ditch plan for victory; it’s crazy, but it just…might…work! Except it doesn’t and the Gauls suffer a team wipe.
By this point the movie has been grinding on for over two hours, and simple logic suggests that they wouldn’t put us through all this if the story of Vercingétorix didn’t ultimately lead to an uplifting conclusion. And finally it does, when Chris surrenders to Caesar (I mean really grovels — face in the dirt, ass in the air) and Caesar has him killed.
We now return to space, where giant orbital sperm will think twice about forecasting the coming of a king with Tor Johnson’s range of facial expressions, Donald Rumsfeld’s grasp of military tactics, and Ron Perlman’s hair from Quest for Fire.