How can anyone not like Mike Hodges camp celebration of savior hero vs destructive villain?
“Flash Gordon” was written by Lorenzo Semple Jr, writer on the 1960s “Batman” TV show. His first draft is the one and only draft which Dino DeLaurentis approved for production. A glossy, flashy and fetishistic approach was adopted for the film, and it became timelessly memorable.
What thrills me about the film is its appreciation for the original, pioneering comic strips on which the film is based. Max Von Sydow’s Ming is pulled right from the newspapers in his gloss pinks, reds and blacks costume wear. The inflection of his voice is otherworldly from the start (“Klytus, I’m bored. What do you have for me to play with today?”)
Sam Jones is a level down in the relatable hero of Christopher Reeve, but he’s enjoying every minute of his hero character. He’s perfect for Semple’s playful writing and he looks like a champion.
Timothy Dalton and Brian Blessed are great side characters on opposite ends; one distinguished, the other gluttonous and proud.
The best flavor of the film is its soundtrack. Thank you Queen!!! Their musical touch is an early inspiration to the latest Marvel films like “Guardians of the Galaxy,” and even the trailer for “Thor Ragnorok” shows a clear direct influence from “Flash Gordon.” Freddy Mercury, Brian May and company relish in heavy pounding drums and special effect sounding guitars to deliver a cheerleading rock anthem. “Flash…aaaah!!! He’s a miracle!”
Dino DeLaurentis saw opportunity following the success of science fiction with “Star Wars.” He went with it but he produced “Flash Gordon” with his own style, not as a copycat. The film became a fantasy with characters bleeding rainbow colors, pet midgets, cat fighting concubines, great hall football with metal watermelons, weird creatures, hawkmen, half egg shaped planets, and even a thrilling fight to the death on a tilting platform with protruding spikes.
It’s all great. “Flash Gordon” is the savior of the universe.