The Living Idol

Screening on Film
Directed by Albert Lewin.
With Steve Forrest, Liliane Montevecchi, James Robertson Justice.
US/Mexico, 1957, 35mm, color, 100 min.
French subtitles.

Lewin's fascination with the exotic and the esoteric comes to a head in his final film. A British archaeologist working in Mexico becomes convinced that a local woman is actually the reincarnation of an Aztec princess. The idea of Mexico as a place where the archaic coexists with the modern fascinated foreigners from Antonin Artaud to William Burroughs. Having already juxtaposed the archaic and the modern in Pandora, Lewin revisits this trope here. The Living Idol dares the ridiculous (even) more than most other Lewin films, and doesn't always pass the test. But its striking use of widescreen cinematography, as in the climactic moment of a sinister panther stalking a deserted Mexico City plaza, makes it a worthy companion to Dorian Gray and Pandora.

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Beyond Good & Evil: The Films of Albert Lewin

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Devour the Land: Cinema, landscape, history.