By Marc S. Sanders
How can anyone not like Mike Hodges’ camp celebration of a savior hero vs a destructive villain?
Flash Gordon was penned by Lorenzo Semple Jr, writer on the 1960s Batman TV show. His first draft is the one and only draft which producer Dino DeLaurentis approved for shooting. A glossy, flashy and fetishistic approach was adopted for the film, and it became timelessly memorable.
What thrills me about the film is its appreciation for the original, pioneering comic strips on which the film is based. Max Von Sydow’s Ming The Merciless is pulled right from the newspapers in his gloss pinks, reds, golds and blacks costume wear. The inflection of his voice is otherworldly from the start (“Klytus, I’m booooored. What do you have for me to play with today?”)
Sam Jones is a level down in the relatable hero of Christopher Reeve, but he’s enjoying every minute of his hero character schtick. He’s perfect for Semple’s playful writing and he looks like a champion.
Timothy Dalton and Brian Blessed are great side characters on opposite ends; one distinguished, the other gluttonous and proud.
The best flavor of the film is its soundtrack. Thank you Queen!!! Their musical touch is an early inspiration to some modern Marvel films like Guardians of the Galaxy, and Thor: Ragnarök, clearly showing direct influence from Flash Gordon. Freddy Mercury, Brian May and company relish in heavy pounding drums and special effect sounding guitars to deliver a cheerleading rock anthem. “Flash…aaaah!!! He’s a miracle!”
Dino DeLaurentis saw opportunity following the success of science fiction with Star Wars. He produced Flash Gordon with his own style, not as a copycat. The film became a fantasy with characters bleeding rainbow colors, pet midgets, cat fighting concubines, great hall football fighting with aluminum watermelons, weird lizard creatures, hawkmen, half egg-shaped planets, and even a thrilling fight to the death on a tilting platform with protruding spikes, the best scene amid all the camp craziness.
It’s all great. Flash Gordon is the savior of the universe. “He’s a miracle!!!!”