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Films of High Adventure: Krull

Krull PosterThe Film: Krull (1983)

Responsibility Roundup: Directed by Peters Yates (Bullitt, The Friends of Eddie Coyle). Written by Stanford Sherman, who had previously penned episodes of the Adam West Batman TV series and went on to do, uh, The Ice Pirates. Soundtrack composed by James Horner (Titanic, Aliens, and tons of other Seriously Epic Shit) and performed by The London Symphony Orchestra. Sets by (or at least at) Pinewood Studios. Starring Ken Marshall (Lt. Commander Michael Eddington on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine), Lysette Anthony (Without a Clue), Francesca Annis (Lady Jessica in Lynch’s Dune), David Battley (he plays Ergo the Magnificent, what more do you peasants want?), Alun Armstrong (lots of TV, Braveheart), and Freddie Jones (pretty much everything awesome that ever came out of British cinema or television). Oh, and Liam Neeson and Robbie Coltrane in early bit parts as members of what must be the most respectable bandit posse in the history of fantasy cinema.

Quote: “I came to find a king, and I find a boy instead.”

Alternate quote: “If I really had my wish I'd be sitting on top of a gooseberry pie as big as a mountain. No, that's a bit greedy. I'll settle for one as big as a house. ”

First viewing by Jesse: Before I even knew myself as an autonomous being, I knew Krull. And when I knew Krull, I knew myself. When I was really young, is the idea here.

First viewing by Molly: Grad school, when I probably should have been working harder on my M.A.? So like… somewhere between 2007 and 2009?

Most recent viewing by both: A few weeks ago.

Impact on Jesse’s childhood development: Monumental. Krull, the Star Wars trilogy, and Yor: The Hunter from the Future were the Holy Trinity I bowed before at my Lego altar. Only later in life did I come to realize that these films were not actually of equal quality, and that Yor clearly towered above the rest. One of my most cherished Christmas memories is opening up an unassuming present under the tree and discovering the Krull Atari game—I hadn’t even realized the potential for such a thing existed, let alone the thing itself, and lo, it was a beautiful awakening to the wonders of the natural world. Or consumer culture, I always get those two mixed up.

Impact on Molly’s childhood development: None, therefore I will use this space to warn our newcomers that this is going to be one of “those” FoHA columns where Jesse waxes nostalgic over a nearly universally beloved film and I come off as Old Lady Crankypants who lives with her 900 cats in that run-down old shack at the end of Haters Street. Whatever! Me and my cats are right and you can all get offa my lawn, because you’re bothering us.

Random youtube clip that hasn’t been taken down for copyright infringement:


Jesse’s thoughts prior to re-watching: Krull? Krull! Siiiiiiiiiick! I remember Molly hating it the first time I showed it to her, but that was years ago and besides, this is on 35mm! 35mm Glaive! 35mm Widow of the Web! 35mm Fire Mares! 35mm Ergo the Magnificent! 35mm Geiger-wannabe Beast fortress! 35mm HIGH ASS FUCKING ADVENTURE! [Molly says: Nothing as interested as ‘high ass fucking’ happens in Krull.] On further consideration, Molly is still probably going to loathe this. Maybe even more than last time, since it’s going to be so much bigger. Whatevs, Krull forever!

Molly’s thoughts prior to watching: “Lord, here we go.” Not really, I was actually excited, because we were seeing it at the Alamo on 35mm, and I like going to see movies. Also I knew I might just score a commemorative glaive, which I did, or a blu-ray of Krull, which Jesse did. So, cool. I was also mildly intrigued… I didn’t remember much of Krull, honestly. I remembered the fire mares, the glaive, the fact that Krull is not the name of the hero but rather the planet, and… maybe that was it. Anyways, I watched Krull before I became a bad fantasy film addict, so it was not impossible I’d enjoy it.

Jesse’s thoughts post-viewing: Welllllll… Krull isn’t perfect, granted. But I’m sure Molly will waste little time in pointing out the film’s shortcomings [Molly sez: Aw, c’mon man. But… you are correct.], so I won’t spend too much time kicking the corpse of a movie that could’ve used a rewrite or two. They can’t all be Yor: The Hunter from the Future, but that’s what makes for horse racing.

Here’s the thing about Krull: as long as you never, ever think about what you’re seeing, it’s great. From the handmade sets to the costumes and effects to the decidedly non-kosher dialogue to the picturesque locations, it’s a treat. A dated treat, yes, but a meaty one, with some spice to it; Krull is the cinematic equivalent of a Bondiola salami smuggled back to England in Colywn’s leggings after shooting the climb to the Glaive cave in Italy’s Cortina d'Ampezzo. You look at it and you think my oh my, it looks delicious, but should I swallow this? Will it make me sick? Is there something wrong with me for wanting another bite? Questions that will paralyze you with indecision, when what is needed is courage, and also a razor sharp magical throwing star thingie retrieved from a lava pool or flea market to cut through that tough exterior.

If this protracted and admittedly over-laden metaphor makes it seem as though I’m attempting to steer the discussion away from the actual particulars of the film, it’s because—holy shit, did you see that cyclops wink?! How did they even do that? It looks so real! And those slayers, dude, those slayers with weird squid things in their helms, and their dual-purpose laser blaster/cattle prods? What about the Beast, tell me you saw the Beast and his sweet cosmic horror bachelor pad? Come on, did you even fucking see Ergo the Magnificent turn himself into a goose? Did you? Here, take another look, because you must not have been paying attention if you think there’s anything more important to talk about:


Case fricking closed: Krull is full of stuff. Just full of it. And only some of that stuff is total bullshit that makes my head hurt when I start actually thinking about it, so let’s not and say we did. Krull!

Molly’s thoughts post-viewing: Ow, my feminism! Seriously, this film came out after Star Wars and Conan the Barbarian. That is to say, it has no excuse for having the stinkiest treatment of a female lead in a genre film that I can easily recall. It’s like the writers were like, “Leia’s just a little too… useful. Let’s dial it back and have Lyssa be, you know, ‘spirited.’ She’ll sass the hero a time or two, which will mostly serve to reveal how bold Colwyn is, and then she’ll spend the rest of the movie running around hallways in a gauzy gown. Girls won’t complain—they love gowns. Right? Eh, actually, what do we care what girls like? Gowns it is!!”

I dunno. I just… ugh. It sucks, because there’s a lot to like about Krull. I really enjoy low-budget SFF films with practical effects and nonsensical plotlines and stock characters—I do [Jesse sez: Krull actually had a sizeable budget for the time, it just feels like a bargain basement schlock fest]! And the side characters of Krull (with the exception of Ergo) are all very enjoyable, like Kegan, who somehow has “Summon Strumpets” as a skill, and Rell the Blinking Cyclops, who sold his eye for the power to see the future, and instead sees only his own death. That’s good biz! Also, the Widow of the Web, a silly and problematic character, sure, but I give a solid high five to Krull for having an unrepentant Medea-style child-murdering witch show up to keep things real, even if yet again the woman’s purpose is to further a man’s story, because what what why how does the sand from her hourglass kill Ynyr instead of… never mind never mind. I also really like the bit with the Emerald Seer, when he gets possessed by the Beast and his eyes open for the first time and they’re black, omg, that is spooky as hell. And, let us not forget Colwyn’s legs in those stripy tights. Dude’s got legs.

But the stinkiness that is Lyssa just burns my butthole. I’m the kind of person who would rather see no representation than stinky representation, and I also get cranky when movies attempt a of sleight of hand with female empowerment—what I mean by that is Krull starts out with a prophecy about how important this “girl who will become queen” will be, and when you see her she’s bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, telling King Papa that she will choose her own husband and he can stick that in his pipe and smoke it if he doesn’t like it. Feisty! But then… yeah, after literally picking up a sword and then handing it to a man, she is predictably captured, and spends the film trying not to succumb to the Beast’s attempts to sex her up. Then in the end… it turns out she had the actual weapon necessary to defeat the Beast? And gives it to Colwyn? So he can do it? Girl, I would tell you to learn to tie your own damn shoes, but we both know it’s the patriarchy’s fault you don’t know how. I’m sorry you didn’t get to do anything in this film. You deserved better.

It’s possible that if Colwyn weren’t such a twerp I could have forgiven these sins, but he starts out a whiny twerp and ends up a smug twerp. Some could claim that it’s proto-grimdark or whatever, making you empathize with an “unlikable protagonist” but I think it’s just bad Gary Stu wish fulfillment nonsense. 

So, I dunno. Mixed bag, I guess? But, in the end, setting these representation issues aside, props to Krull for its weird world and fun practical effects and nice side-characters and obsessive focus on Colwyn’s really very nice legs in those stripy tights. Mm. That’s what I call a lean cut. What?

High Points: Watching Colwyn cry like a baby in the ruins of his life. Actually, any time Colwyn is wounded or suffers a misfortune. All the biz with the cyclops—that’s tips [Jesse sez: I agree with the assessment if not Molly’s crude phrasing]. Colwyn’s legs in dem tights.

Low points: Butthole-burning ladytypes, Ergo the Annoying [Jesse sez: obviously Molly mistakenly put Ergo in the wrong column, but I’m nevertheless going to take the high ground and not make some obviously ironic sexist joke about how dames often have trouble with spatial problem solving and how I bet if the assignment had been to knit Colwyn’s stripy leggings or bake a nice gooseberry pie she would’ve nailed it. That would obviously be a dick move, and like my hero Colwyn, I know ladies deserve respect… because they hold within their delicate hands the mystical fire I can borrow to blow up evil monsters since they’re incapable of doing it themselves. If you need me I’ll be over here sucking down red pills like they were jujubes and working on my new MRA tract, “What’s So Bad About the Beast? Ten Easy Ways to Keep Women in the Neg Web”].

Final Verdict: Dragon Age: Origins definitely modeled their ubiquitous "boy-child with a bowl cut" on Titch. That’s not a verdict, but we couldn’t figure out where else to put this observation.

Next Time: Waterworld, AKA Molly’s Revenge