When the beautiful dancer Salome learns that the dwarf circus owner Marcel has just received an inheritance, she marries the lovesick, diminutive performer, all the while planning to steal his fortune and run off with her lover, strong man Sansone. When Marcel and fellow performers discover her evil plan, they band together to carry out a brutal revenge.
It’s not often I get films that are a bit too hard to review. Even with the number of cult films in the style of Lynch and others, I can pretty much make out what the direction was. The Museum of Wonders (2010) is probably a bit “too” artsy or theatre-like for translation on many parts.
The movie is directed by Domiziano Cristopharo who surprisingly made the great film “House of Flesh Mannequins“. This is his follow-up film that came a year later. The movie is cited as a drama, fantasy, horror film but to my interpretation is too far gone maybe for any of those. With subtitles included due to its Italian origin, the movie centers on a theatre group consisting of freaks, oddities and artsy circus like performers. Folks, there is alot of makeup wearing performers, frontal male nudity and elaborate set pieces. (I’m guessing this film leans towards the gay community)
The synopsis explanation sort of runs like this…. Marcel the head midget has just received an hefty inheritance check from his grandmother. One of the dancers Salome likes to use her beauty to take advantage of Marcel digging into his pocket on more than one occasion. The rest of the troupe see it for what it is, but that seems to fall into the category of unimportant to Salome’s gold digging nature. Salome has a male lover within the group by the name of Sasone. She plots to grab the loot and head off into the sunset with her mate if she can get Marcel to marry her. Of course she has to poison him first (but make it look like an illness).
Well not quite, as the group (which are a tight family themselves) begin to realize that things are not going to work out for them as expected. The film stays in this artsy kind of flow until up to about 12 minutes before the end. Then the “horror” aspect comes into play with some surprising results. Nothing that we haven’t seen before but extreme for the context of what you’ve been watching.
Now much of this mind you is all presented in a very literary pretentious kind of way. In other words I had to follow the visuals more than the dialog which at times fell almost Shakespearian. About half way into it I was wondering if I should just call it a day and do the best with the material, however there is a purpose to this whole bag of curiosities.
“The Museum of Wonders” is way too philosophically spoken for comfort for about 99% of viewers. The costumes and set are pretty attractive though so you get a almost circus-kind of presentation filled with gobbly gook verbal exchanges (I did really like the Melies-reference “Trip to the moon” scenes). Some of the characters profess how they wish to be normal or how the world just doesn’t understand them….but well…I didn’t either, so point made???
Most will run to this looking for something different in which “that” you’ll find. I’m not sure what portion of cinematic viewers will actually enjoy most of it but my guess is that its not the horror genre crowd. Again…… I watch alot of weird films, films with subplots, hidden agendas and independent nature however “The Museum of Wonders” is closer to walking into an elaborate play that you missed the first half hour of. It just takes “too” long to get to the point where you feel like there is a story brewing.
The Museum of Wonders (2010)