The Playa Film Guide
by The Judge
of us that come to Black Rock City every year as if it's a personal Mecca,
there is a strong desire to keep the flame of happiness alight when we are part
of the real world.
thought in mind, the following are selected movies to help keep you in the
Burning Man spirit when not out on the playa.
Here is a
concept that hits close to home for me: Leonardo "DiCrapio" plays a guy who decides he's tired of his
normal life and wants to go see the world. He ends up in Bangkok, Thailand.
While he's there, he meets up with a visionary (euphemism for
"loony") who tells him of a beach ÷ a closely guarded secret patch of
paradise completely protected from the outside environment. A place where you
are free from "the parasites of the world" and everything is
convinces a couple of like-minded adventure seekers and they head out to find
this place. Sure enough, its everything the crazy guy said it was. The water is
crystal clear, the sand is white, the people living there are a loving
community of modern hippies (you know, same attitude but better hygiene) and
the drugs are plentiful.
starting to sound familiar yet?
most utopian dreams, reality has a way of stepping in and fucking everything
up. Soon their paradise is filled with
frustration, pain and drama. Hmmm. That also sounds awfully familiar.
If you can
get past Leonardo and his love handles parading around, the film has a pretty
good story. The music is pretty good, The locations are absolutely breathtaking
and its easy to see how someone could fall in love with a concept like this.
Mad Max: Beyond
you say about George Miller's classic post-apocalyptic movie series that hasn't
already been said? This one, the third in a series that began with Mad Max and continued with The Road Warrior, helped set the
standard for the bleak, dusty outlook of the future that countless films have
since copied and profited from. I am sure the folks at Death Guild hold a
special place in their hearts for this one and with good reason. It's well
done, entertaining and just plain cool. Bartertown is a dusty stand-in for
Black Rock City, and the entire film is a primer in trendy playa fashion. And
besides, Tina Turner looks hot in a chainmail dress.
The Adventures of
Priscilla, Queen of the Desert
If you have
not seen this film, consider yourself truly lacking in some bizarre sense. This
is the hilarious story of three drag queens ÷ complete with enough shimmering
metallic fabric and eye shadow to cover Black Rock City. They are traveling
across the Australia desert on their way to a contest, when their purple bus
(named Priscilla) breaks down in the middle of the Outback. Now if you can
imagine the kind of comedy a scenario like that could create, try seeing Hugo
Weaving ÷ the actor who played Agent Smith from The Matrix - dressed up in fishnets and a showgirl dress. This is
definitely one of the best films for illustrating the spirit of Burning Man.
Lawrence of Arabia
initially skeptical that something made almost 40 years ago would be able to
keep my attention for the butt-numbing 3-1/2 hours of its duration. But now I
fully understand why this has become the film that other epic films have been
judged against. It was the winner of four Golden Globes and SEVEN Academy
Awards in 1963 for Best Picture, Director, Editing, Cinematography, Art
Direction, Music and Sound. After watching the film, I am convinced that it is
simply one of the finest works of cinematic genius to ever illuminate the big
the autobiographical writing of British officer T.E. Lawrence during World War
I, the film depicts Lawrence (played by then-unknown actor Peter O'Toole) as a
lieutenant lacking any sort of military discipline whatsoever. Bored with his
assignment of coloring maps for the British Army in a dimly lit headquarters
building, Lawrence jumps at the opportunity to be re-assigned as an observer
for an Arabian prince fighting against the Turkish army. Lawrence quickly sees
just how caring and great these desert dwelling people can be and ends up
rallying the various tribes together to fight the Turks and help the British
turn the tide of World War I.
As far as
Burning Man goes, just look at the costumes! The locations! Black Rock is an
absolute playground compared to the sheer mass and environment of the Sahara
independent films are made by pretentious film school geeks. There are a select
few filmmakers out there that can ignore all that "look at me I'm a
director" bullshit and just concentrate on telling a story the way human
beings have been doing for millions of years. Groove is a good example of the concept of "telling a
story" without any particular message.
Written and directed by Greg
Harrison, the film is actually the story of several different characters, all
taking place around an underground rave in an abandoned San Francisco
warehouse. Harrison knows his subject matter. Clearly a fan of the scene and
familiar with all of its whimsical and intriguing stereotypes. I'm not sure
what was more interesting about this movie: The actual stories, or the detail
Harrison took making this film a "Raveing for Dummies" movie.
you go. Five films to help you better cope with the garish hell of real life
when you are not living in Black Rock City. Enjoy!