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Memoirs of a Survivor 1981
Description: Based on the acclaimed novel by Doris Lessing, this dystopian science fiction tale concerns a girl struggling to create her method in a post-apocalyptic society. D (Julie Christie) is living in a town that's at the mission of collapse following a catastrophic nuclear war; lawlessness and violence rule the day, and gangs of brutal youth roam the streets. With the support of her teenage companion Emily (Leonie Mellinger), D tries to create her way, and in order to cope, she often escapes into a fantasy globe in which she lives in genteel Victorian surroundings in the 19th century.
Released: 01 Sep 1981 Director: David Gladwell Writers: Kerry Crabbe, David Gladwell, Doris Lessing (novel) Actors: Julie Christie, Christopher Guard, Leonie Mellinger, Debbie Hutchings Genres: Sci-Fi
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Memoirs of a Survivor Reviews:

I found the movie immensely interesting. You see the decay of urbanity from the eyes of a girl ('D') hiding in her bastion of civilisation, a council flat. Her impregnable retreat is suddenly breached by the intrusion of two factors, the imposition on her by an unnamed authority of an orphan named Emily, and her sudden realisation that beyond the wall lies the past? the future? or perhaps an alternative globe said through the different incarnations of a house she visits as an unseen entity.While the brutalised orphans of the roads outside seem to be beginning to supplant the authorities and are accelerating the end of the world. D realises through her wall, that the condition of her society is not new. Society grows from strict disciplinarian routes, and when achieved embarks on a decaying relaxation of morals which inevitably ends in the collapse of society. Those that are important to rebuild society are not necessarily great people, merely essential, thus we arrive at the Gerald character. Eventually Emily and Gerald rescue the savage (troglodyte) kids of the subways, and with the support of D and the wall, take them to a fresh Eden, where the kids will be able to start a fresh society starting from caveman.It is obvious because of the cannibalistic nature of the kids that Gerald, Emily and D will not survive this process, but their action is essential to build anew, and the kids will start without the memory of their former civilisation's decay. Thus we are brought from the end of the world, to the beginning of a fresh globe for the orphans of the old. Most folks believed that the collapse of D's globe was a prediction of the collapse of our own, but perhaps our globe is now the one behind the wall. That is up to you.This is an intensely moving novel produced by a girl of feeling who had witnessed the brutalisation and savagery of fight at close hand and understood the nature of the fall of society. Not an action film, but a masterpiece that many will not understand because of its intensely philosophical nature.


Though I was more impressed with this film when it had it's theatrical debut in the early 1980s, I still suggest this mysterious mood piece. The storyline concerns a quiet middle aged girl (Julie Christie) living alone during some catastrophic breakdown of modern society. Young illiterate children live like rats in the subways, garbage covers the roads and nomadic folks scavenge in aimless traveling groups. The girl is given a young teenage woman (Leonie Mellinger) to take care of and the woman becomes sexually involved with a young boy who takes on the task of caring for homeless kids (while he simultaneously sleeps with them). Alongside this melancholic tale, there's other dimension revealed when the girl discovers a Victorian family living inside a strange membranous wall of her apartment. There are curious psychological parallels between the globe in the wall and the goings-on in the woman's another dystopia world. The final scenes are truly weird and puzzling so if you like your films straightforward with tidy narratives, this one isn't for you. For those who play the bizarre and challenging, take a look. My only true criticism is the truly terrible synth soundtrack (by Mike Thorne?any relation to Ken?) which constantly works vs the imagery.


I see from the last several reviews (at least one of which is one viewer's opinion of Christie's career more than of this particular film) that they didn't like the movie. OK. (And for the record, the fact that some have access to working helicopters doesn't mean most folks would, and an extensive, working infrastructure isn't required to maintain relatively several of them.) I've got the DVD of this film, and the transfer certainly leaves something to be desired. But if that, or the "helicopter issue", or a "tacky" movie score, will negate any enjoyment you might have, then this movie (and this kind of film) is not for you. But it definitely is worth watching. Maybe a various director, or the same director taking a various approach would have made this a better film, and one that would have satisfied its' critics.



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