The Michigan Daily
Sunday, April 1, 1984
'Dragonslayer' returns to prove
By Bryon L. Bull
D RAGONSLAYER is an overlooked gem of a movie. One
unjustly ignored by the public and grossly misunder-
stood by the bulk of critics, buried in the summer of '81 by
production-line blockbusters like Raiders of the Lost Ark and
Superman II. Yet it was a far superior film in many ways in
its moody fairy tale that was well-crafted and at time is quite
It takes place in the twilight of the dark ages, as the
residents of a village in the mythical land of Urland seek out
the did of one of the few remaining wizards against a dragon
that has been terrorizing them for years. But the wizard,
played with a soiled, offbeat wit that would have pleased T.H.
White by the late Ralph Richardson, dies under mysterious
circumstances before the journey even begins.
The only one left to take up his task is, his untrained ap-
prentice, Galen, whose bag of parlor tricks is no match for
the dragon's ferocious omnipotence. On top of that, it seems
the king has established something of a pact with the dragon,
sacrificing virgins to it and receiving some restraint on its
part in return. A rather frail, weak-spirited sort, he has no
desire to risk the possibility of unsuccessful attack on the
Galen's initial battle with the dragon is a failure, and
proves nearly fatal for him. All he accomplishes is provoking
ts rage, and the destruction of the village. Only at the height
of his desperation, as he prepares to flee the village, does he
discover the secret power, in his possession to battle the
dragon on its own level.
Directed by Spielberg-protege Matthew Robbins, from a
script by Robbins and collaborator Hal Barwood, the story is
' rather thin on the surface. The aged wizard and youthful
warrior storyline has been firmly run into the ground the last
few years. The story unfolds rather straightforwardly, with
only one plot twist that is in itself predictable to anyone who's
seen a couple of these genre films.
A romance between Galen and a village girl only slows
-down the story, and wastes valuable time. Arid as for the
young virgins who are sacrifical candidates, it's hard to
believe none of them have arrived at the obviously easiest
way out of their predicament.
Where Dragonslayer does succeed is in its rich stylizing.
Robbins has a sense of aesthetics that lie somewhere bet-
ween Ridley Scott and Terry Gilliam, with a strong eye for
atmosphere and minute detail. The film has a grainy coar-
seness that suits it well, the dark ages are oppresively dark
and dingy. The setting is both surreal and naturalistic - cold
barron landscapes of dark broken rocks in an etheral mist.
Cinematographer Derek Vanlint, who also shot Alien, gives
the film an uncomfortably otherworldly look, where a dragon
would not seem out of place.
Alex North's score is one of his finest, a stark, stirring
piece that combines both classical and contemporary
elements. It is one of those very rare scores that doesn't add
to the movie, but becomes an inseperable part of it.
As for the dragon, called Vermithrax Pejorative (Latin for
The Terrible Worm), it is stunning. Robbins keeps it out of
camera range for most of the picture, much as Spielberg did
the shark in Jaws, letting us glimpse only a giant talon
descending over the camera, or viewing it from behind its
darkly-lit, horned skull as it leers down on its victims. He lets
expectation build to the point when we think we'll never see
the damn thing, and then he unvails it. In the midst of a
beautifully Danteesque subterrainian lake of fire, it rises up
from the water, a majestic serpentine thing with glittering
scales and leathery bat wings with a vile-beaked countenan-
ce. Earlier in the film a priest refers to it as the devil incar-
nate, and it's easy to imagine why.
Constructed and filmed by George Lucas's ILM effects.st-
udio, the dragon is a technical wonder. Computer-articulated
miniature that looks unsettlingly real on screen, far removed
from Raym Harrhausen's primitive stop-motion work. The
final confrontation atop a mountain precipice during a spell
induced eclipse, is a powerfully rendered, riveting bit of
magic. One that couldn't have been achieved until recent
technical advances in film.
Yet most critics failed to notice the film as anything other
You may have missed Paramount's 'Dragonslayer' the first time around due to the excitement of 'Raiders' and
'Superman I,' but don't worry, it comes back today to the Michigan Theater in hopes of receiving proper attention.
than another Star Wars-inspired bit of excapism. Janet
Maslin, while noting its weak narrative, praised it as a
"movie that makes you believe what you see is real."
Pauline Kael vigorously championed it in her New Yorker
review, citing its strong sense of mood and atmosphere,
calling it appropriately enough a "night bloom."
Despite its obscurity, Dragonslayer remains one of the few
vividly imagined, truly well-crafted works of .high-tech
filmmaking. It shows today at 2:15 and tonight at 7 in the
Michigan Theater; the only hall on campus to do it justice.
New literary mag. hits campus
By Bob King
Wednesday Week - 'Betsy's
X House' (Warfrat Records)
I don't like to come down on new ban-
ds and first records because initial ef-
forts are not usually a good indicator of
potential. But there's nothing to
recommend in this five-song EP by this
all-woman LA trio. While they sound
tlike they'd be tolerable in a small bar,
they've no business demanding space
ion someone's turntable. Ann Arbor's
own Trees have far much more to offer.
Compo'sed of Kelly -and Kristie
Callan, with Heidi Rodewald, the trio
simply has very little to say that hasn't
been said elsewhere much more
eloquently. Their material is
adolescent romance/relationship stuff
like I have to admit that it's true/But
I'm infatuated with you/I tried to
up in 1985
(Continued from Page 1)
eFerris State College, $27.4 million
-Grand Valley State College, $16.5
SLake Superior State College, $7.2
-Michigan State University, $180.2
eMichigan Technological University,
$Northern Michigan University, $26.6
*Oakland University, $24.5 million
eSaginaw Valley State College, $8.7
-University of Michigan, $180.3
-U-M Dearborn, $11.7 million
*U-M Flint, $10.5 million
eWayne State University, $123.55
-Western Michigan University, $57.1
THE UNIVERSITY OF
Patrick Gardner, Director
act like I really don't care/I always
look away when I'd rather stare ...
While some of the sentiment is
recognizable, it's not stated with any
poignancy or charm. Looking at the
lyrics is like reading the bad poetry on
the inside cover of a highschool girl's
notebook. I'll pass.
Nor does the unvarying tempo of the
music help. Kristi whines with an an-
noying monotonousness against the
same simple chords and constant
drumming. There are occassional
keyboard and flute punctuations to
color things up a bit, but they're buried
in the amateurish production. I'll stick
with my Kate and Anna McCarrigle
albums if it's all the same.
- Bryon L. Bull
A LITERARY magazine. You didn't
even have to ask. Barbaric Yawp
is, in fact, the University's newest
literary magazine, and Friday was the
reception for its inaugural issue.
What has been the initial reaction to
this incipient artistry? Initial commen-
ts were mainly in the form of "What
does it mean?" Briefly, the title is a"
phrase from Whitman's--"Leaves of
Grass," I too am not a bit tamed/I
too am untranslatable/I sound my
Barbaric Yawp over the roofs of the
world. As you can see- by browsing
through a copy of the Yawp, the title is
appropriate. The new lit mag is pretty
wild, it's available only in English, and
if not the world, Barbaric Yawp should
get a good sounding in A2. Yes, the title
is bizarre, but what's in a name,
At the reception Friday in the Keun-
zel Room of the Union, before several of
the Yawp's contributors read their
works, editor-in-chief Denise Franklin
gave a little Yawp history. The idea
seems to have germinated last fall,
with a group of students getting
together to form a creative off-shoot of
the Undergraduate English Society. By
January, the group had formed com-
mittees for Editorial Policy and
Visuals, chaired by Michael Silverman
and Lisa Farris (respectfully).
Jumping from the aristic and
organizational efforts to the finished
product (and just making it), the Yawp
contains 40 pages of verse, prose, and
Farris admits that the actual
publication of the Yawp was not as
smooth as the finished product implies.
Due to the normal difficulties of funding
a first-year project, the 3000 copies
were printed by hand, which
anonymous sources insist was a less
than religious experience. The publicity
department also had its problems, as
its "Chaulk Mason Hall" campaign
(judged most effective in their
... premiers this week
marketing analysis) almost resulted in
footing Mason's entire spring-cleaning
bill. Primo Incipio Difficule Est, eh?
The magazine, however, isn't the end
of their aspirations. "We would like to
turn the magazine into an Un-
dergraduate literary association,"
Farris explains. "We could organize
trips to Stratford, and get more (even-
ts) going so that you actually feel like
an English student," she continues,
"kind of like the art school."
If an undergraduate - lit~tary
association sounds good to you;. the
Yawp will be holding an organizational
mass meeting for next fall on April 12th
at 8 p.m. in the lounge on 7th Floor
Haven Hall. If youre interested, or
think you might be, drop in and see
what Yawpism is all about. You'll meet
some creative and very motivated in-
APRIL 7, 1984 --8:30 P.M.
For information call
668-6770 or 663-4713
Tickets available at'
Regular price $10.00
Students Half Price
* : B '
3 INDIVIDUAL THEATRES
5th Ave of Lberty 761-9704
$2 00 SHOWS BEFORE 6:00 P.M.
DAILY 1:00 P.M. SHOWS
Continued from Page 3
Today," Tribute Rm., education school.
Labor Studies Center - "Grievance Preparation & Arbitration," Larry
Carlstrom, UAW Local 735, 7 p.m., for location call 764-0492.
Minority Engineering - "Time Ownership for the Crunch," Evelyn
Gauthier, 7 p.m., 311 W. Engineering.
Society for Creative Anachronism -8 p.m., for location call 996-4290.
LSA - Faculty meeting, 4:10 p.m., Aud. A Angell Hall.
Union Arts - Botticelli game players, noon, Dominick's.
Asian American Association - 6:30 p.m., 1443 Washtenaw.
Hospice of Washtenaw - 7:30 p.m., 2530 S. Main Street.
Eclipse - Jazz workshop, 7 p.m., Assembly Hall, Union.
Tae Kwon Do Club - Practice, 6 p.m., CCRB Martial Arts Rm.
Continuing Medical Education - Courses on "Ophthalmology," & "Head
& Neck Oncology," to register call 763-1400.
Common Ground Theater - Workshop on creative writing, John Lusk, 7
p.m., Firestation Conf. Rm.
Extension Service - conference of the Michigan Association for Infant
Mental Health, 7:30 p.m., League.
Tae Beta Pi - Tutoring in lower level science, math, engineering, 7-11
p.m., Rm. 307 UGLi, and 8-10 p.m., Rm. 2332 Bursley.
Guild House - Poetry Readings, Edward Hirsch, & Laurence Goldstein, 8
p.m., 802 Monroe.
Continuing Education for Women- Classes on refreshing student skills, 350
S. Thayer, to register call 763-1353.
HRD - Course, "Employee Relations," 1 p.m., Rm. 130 LSA Bldg.
Campus Zen Society - Silent Zen Buddhist meditation, 7-8:30 p.m(i.,
basement of St. Mary's Newman Center, 331 Thompson.
Matthaei Botanical Gardens - Garden Lobby display, 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m.,
1800 N. Dixboro Rd.
Human Growth Center - Eating Disorders Self-Help Group, 7:30-9:30
p.m., 2002 Hogback Rd., Suite 13.
To submit items for the Happenings Column, send them in care of
Happenings, The Michigan Daily, 420 Maynard St., Ann Arbor, MI 48109
A FILM BY
SUN. 1:10, 3:10, 5:10, 7:10, 9:10
MON. 1:00, 7:10, 9:10
ANN ARBOR LATE SHOWS
FRI. & SAT. NIGHT - ALL SEATS 225
AT 11:00 P.M.
AT 11:20 P.M.
"LIQUID SKY" (R) _
MARCH 29, 30, 31 at 8:00
APRIL 1 at 2:00 p.m.r
The right audiences are bound to
appreciate the originality the color,
rage, nonchalance, sly humor,
and ferocious fashion sense."
--Janet Muslin, N.Y. Times