Sunday, 30 September 2012

TONY HAWKS: A bizarre and ever-so-slightly heartwarming little film

As regular readers of my inky-fingered scribblings on these pages will be aware, I enjoyed Tony Hawks' first film called Round Ireland with a Fridge which tells the story of how he travelled round Ireland with a fridge. It is a simple, and fairly straightforward tale about travelling around Ireland with a fridge, based on his book which told how he travelled round Ireland with a fridge. It does exactly what it says on the tin, and furthermore does it rather nicely.

So I approached Hawks' second film, assuming that it was going to be in much the same vein as the first. Well, its not. It is a far more complex, indeed a far more difficult , film. But it is one that definitely repays the effort, and I have a sneaking suspicion that whilst it is not as obviously entertaining as its predecessor that it is going to turn out to be a far more important work of art.

When I finally get around to interviewing Tony, one of the things I want to talk about, is how much of what actually happened the first time around is mirrored in the cinematic adaptation which was obviously filmed many years after the event. Because of this, the Tony in the films is portrayed by an older and wiser Tony than the one who originally carried out the drunken bet which proved to be the genesis of each of his adventures. I want to know, because although the Tony of the first film made a few mistakes, including a memorable one with an Australian lady in a tent, the Tony of nowadays who appeared in the film, and who breaks the fourth wall at the end, does not seem to be much different. Indeed, one has the impression that Tony Hawks of now, rather likes the character he was then, or at least the character as he was portrayed on screen.

Unless I am barking completely up the wrong tree, the Tony of the second film is a completely different kettle of fish. The character on screen (and I think that it is important to note that in the extras Hawks refers to him as 'Tony' rather than 'I' or 'me') is more gauche, and at least at the beginning of the film, less likeable than the guy who went around Ireland with a fridge.

This is partly because the Ireland of fifteen or twenty years ago, and the Ireland of today are not much different (unless you happened to live in Crossmaglen). The sylvan beauty of the Emerald Isle is a constant, and the cheery good humour of the inhabitants is legendary. Moldova, however, especially in the years following the collapse of Communism appeared to be horrid in more ways than one. The Tony on screen just was not prepared to deal with a post-Communist ur-Eastern Bloc state, or its privations, or indeed its people. He just could not get his head around the reality of roadblocks, and the moral and cultural vacuum where the machinery of totalitarianism had so recently been.

And that is what makes this film so good. Tony (and here I mean the bloke on screen) starts off as a bit of a dick, and ends up as a thoroughly good chap. It is all done very subtly, and it is hard - after only having seen the film once - to pinpoint the part of the film when the great sea change occurs. What I really want to find out is whether this change also happened in real life. Or was Tony (the real bloke) brave enough to decide to  deliberately portray himself in a less than favourable light? Either way, it will be fascinating to find out

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