Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

Popcorn made epic

The feel-good, teenage boy rite-of-passage pic set in the early Sixties has, in the Nineties, become a genre all of its own. The era of JF Kennedy is, after all, easy to invoke as white America’s age of innocence — a social-science lab purged of confounding variables where all the truisms about character, honour, manhood and all the rest of it can be put to the test and, QED, proved.

Requirements for the genre include a gaggle of chiselled adolescents who are each allowed one personality flaw, an adventure in which these personality flaws get ironed out, a tough father figure with a heart of gold, and the odd historical reference to JFK’s assassination and/or the first voyages into space and/or the Cuban crisis.

Normally, it only takes 90 minutes of ho-hum school-holiday movie fare to work through the checklist. White Squall, however, is directed by Ridley Scott, of Blade Runner and Thelma and Louise fame, who really ought to have known better.

This director of epics takes a popcorn theme and inflates it to epic proportions: art-house production values and art-house length. When you’re dealing with formulaic material, all seascapes and tropical-island adventures, art-house cinematography quickly congeals into kitsch. And a film over two hours long which adds nothing to themes that have already been thoroughly chewed over in less pretentious circumstances seems like a waste of time.

Vote for an informed choice

We’re dropping the paywall this week so that everyone can access all our stories for free, and get the information they need in the run up to the local government elections. For the latest updates and political analysis, sign up to our daily elections newsletter.

If our coverage helps inform your decision, cast your vote for an informed public and join our subscriber community. Right now, a full year’s access is just R510, half the usual cost. Subscribers get access to all our best journalism, subscriber-only newsletters, events and a weekly cryptic crossword.

Guest Author

Related stories


Already a subscriber? Sign in here


Latest stories

The bins get emptied ahead of voting day, but will...

The Tembisa 10 may be a figment of somebody’s imagination, but Eskom’s Misery Twins are not

Local government elections: Why it’s rational to vote with your...

Voting tactically may seem like a realistic, mature option, but it compromises the integrity of your vote and is corrosive to the long-term health of democracy

SA proposes new climate finance target ahead of COP26

Long-standing issues on climate finance will make or break COP26, says environment, forestry and fisheries minister

Local government elections: Port Edwards’ residents rely on ‘holy’ water...

The Ugu district municipality has, for years, failed to provide a constant source of clean water and parties are pitching their elections campaigns around the crisis

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…