Les annees lumiere (1981)
aka Light Years Away
Directed by Alain Tanner
Featuring Trevor Howard, Mick Ford, Bernice Stegers
Country: Switzerland / France
What it is: Allegorical drama
A young drifter decides to take up working for a possibly crazy old man with a towing business. If he works out, he will learn the secret of the old man's shed, and start on a path to enlightenment.
Because this is an allegorical drama, I don't think it's really a spoiler to let on that the old man believes he has been taught to fly by the birds he keeps captive in his shed; this serves as the fantastic content of this allegory. Exactly what the allegory means in its entirety, I won't pretend to know, but I will put forth that it probably involves spiritual redemption and that the old man serves as something of a Christ figure. These types of movies tend to be a matter of taste for me, and I quite like this one. Both Trevor Howard and Mick Ford give fine performances, and there are some truly interesting scenes, such as a sequence where the old man asks to be buried in the ground up to his neck for three days to heal wounds he received from a bird attack, and one where the two men bond by watching a storm from the front seat of the tow truck. One odd realization that struck me while I was watching this was, that in certain very basic aspects, the story was quite a bit similar to that Children's Film Foundation movie I saw recently, THE SKY BIKE; it's interesting how the same ideas can manifest themselves in two otherwise very different movies. And I will say that, despite the fact that the title and credits were in French, the movie itself was shot in English, and I was able to catch it that way.