https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h23J5YC98FMTime Travel is alway one of the more fun sub genres of Scence fiction. (As a SciFi purist and a bit of a pedant, I’ll insist it’s actually part of fantasy but mostly out of tradition Science Fiction is stuck with it.) I always find it interesting when someone other than us are doing the traveling and just what they would make of our wonderfully strange era. So for this week’s theme we’re doing Medieval Time Travelers.
Our first film, The Navigator, A Medieval Odessy ,tells the story of the inhabitants of a tiny mountain village in northern England in the middle of the Black Death. Word of this terrible plague has been slowly reaching them and fear of their inevitable doom is upon them. In desperation they follow a boy’s prophecy through a mine tunnel to raise a cross on the steeple of the “biggest church in all of Christendom” to their surprise they come out in modern day New Zealand. I love how this film doe a great job of showing us the modern world through medieval eyes and turning it into a surreal hallucination. Everything mundane (like crossing a busy street) is a terror. Our perspective of this alien world we know so well is eventuated with the transition from the black and white of the past to the colorful present. To add even more spice our heroes speak in a thick archaic dialect sounding very much like middle english. Their inability to even communicate with the people they meet makes things even more fascinating and increases the vibe they are in an alien world.
In our next film Les Visiteurs Jean Reno plays a twelfth century knight, from the court of Charles the Fat, accidentally thrown to the present when a spell ,that was cast to prevent an accident that made the knight kill his betrothed’s father, backfires and Transports him and his squire to the present.
The approach the film takes to our medieval visitors is a bull in a china shop mentality. It gets a lot of it’s humor from the knight and his squire wreaking havoc in the suburban neighborhood they find themselves in, from attacking a car, smashing plates and using up all of the expensive bath supplies when they’re forced to take a bath (the fact that medieval hygiene is an oxymoron is a running gag)
On a slightly more serious note most of the real culture shock that goes through the film is the difference of values. In the first ten minutes it’s made clear that hitting a woman (with an armored gauntlet no less) is perfectly okay, It’s expected to treat peasants like dirt (and the peasant agrees (at least at first) and the knight is horrified when he finds out one of his descendants took the peoples side in the french revolution.
One interesting side note about this film is that to a certain extent the knight and his vassal are not the only visitors to the modern world. The knight’s descendent wonderfully played by Valérie Lemercier , is old money aristocrat who seems almost as clueless about the real world as her ancestor is, speaking in a ridiculously posh accent that is so over the top you don’t even have to speak french to notice it.