When "The Artist" was released this year one of the biggest praises I heard for the film was "even though it's silent, I was drawn right in. I didn't notice. There aren't many films that can to that."
Well, "The Last Battle" does that. While there are a couple lines in the film that amount to just "Bon," its strength you could say isn't in the dialogue.
"The Last Battle" shares another similarity with "The Artist." Besson chose black and white. And while "The Artist" is in black and white because it has to be, being an hommage to silent films of the 20s, "The Last Battle" is for a reason we see when the very first images of the film hit our pupils...it just looks cool.
B&W may seem archaic to some, especially considering that the film is a sci-fi adventure, but compositionally the black and white was used to its advantage. Subjects are amplified through the use of contrasty blacks on blown out whites. The sun is a big factor as well, providing solid blocks of shade and huge white landscapes.
From the first scene we realize this film is a comedy as well, laughing at the main character and his plight. We see quickly that he's a desperate man in a desperate world. But he's also very crafty and intelligent, more so than others. One of my favorite scenes comes next, showing the process that the surviving men have to go through to obtain potable water.
We also see that women are scarce in this futuristic wasteland of junk. Men just lie around in a junkyard waiting for who knows what. Our hero seems to be the only one with a goal. He wants to get out.
After he steals a battery to power his homemade craft and is hunted down for it, he escapes in the nick of time from the neanderthals weilding bars of iron and other primitive tools.
He crash lands in yet another pile of junk, hiding his craft and embarking into the nearest town. This is where he meets the two other main characters. The villain, played by Jean Reno, is basically the opposite of the hero. Both of them are survivors. Jean Reno survives with his brawn while our Hero survives with is brain.
In the beginning Jean Reno battles a clever doctor, the other main character, who is held up in a hospital, seemingly all by himself. For an unknown reason Jean Reno brings the doctor a box of supplies and tries to break into the hospital. The doctor has something valueable inside. Drugs perhaps?
Our hero basically stumbles through the next few scenes. First he encounters Jean Reno and is almost beaten to death. He somehow finds his way into the doctor's hospital and the doctor takes him in. They build a sort of father/son relationship and finally it's revealed what the doctor has hidden in his keep that is so valueable: a woman.
Another thing...humans have lost the ability to speak. Something to do with the air, or air pressure. Either way, it's a pretty neat trick from Besson that allows us to concentrate on the images on the screen, which are always composed perfectly. The art director should have an Academy Award for this work...they've taken basic items on a low budget and created what feels like another world.
"The Last Battle" is really a fight for survival in a world that is almost dead itself. The earth seems to have lost the will to live, producing not a single tree or tomato the entire story. Food does exist in the form of canned goods or fish falling from the sky, so we are told how us humans will get along in such circumstances in the future. The battle is not only for survival, but for love, love for this woman in the keep of the doctor. Who gets her and what does he do with her? You'll have to watch to find out.
The film, like many a piece of art, is obviously a metaphor for how men treat the earth, women, and each other. It's savage but still likable. It can be taken seriously, but it's more enjoyable if you loosen up and laugh at moments that are clearly meant to be laughed at.
I have not see this one, but will seek it out ASAP.
I will be looking at the dystopic sets in preparation for "Harmonia"
Great find Luke