Arrow Video: In the Aftermath (1988) - Reviewed

Repurposing or recycling footage either from a preexisting movie/show as a recap or another motion picture film entirely is always going to raise one’s eyebrows in terms of a picture’s validity.  Whether it be an egregious example such as the infamous Dünyayı Kurtaran Adam (Turkish Star Wars) or sequels sneakily reusing special effects shots or setups ala Michael Bay’s Transformers sequels, movies that use someone else’s work almost always garners frowns from devoted cinephiles.  Which makes the case of the British/Japanese post-apocalyptic In the Aftermath a most unusual and yet frustratingly anticlimactic experience.

Prior to its creation in 1988, much of the skin and bones for the film was provided by Mamuro Oshii’s masterful animated film Angel’s Egg (reviewed here by Michelle Kisner).  From the eventual creator of Ghost in the Shell, it tells the story of a nameless girl wandering a barren futuristic landscape keeping vigil over a mysterious egg.  On its own terms Angel’s Egg is a work of pure visual poetry, minimalist and haunting.  Sadly, however, this brilliant work of Japanese animation remains unavailable to westerners outside of bootlegging or importing, making Arrow Video’s re-release of In the Aftermath as close to an official release of Angel’s Egg as we’ll get stateside for some time.

Piggybacking off Oshii’s film is this microbudget live action production involving a post-apocalyptic Britain with few survivors in gasmasks roaming the nuclear torn landscape.  In an odd collision between real world footage and Oshii’s film, sections of animation intrude onto the live action footage before dissolving into an actor or object in the animated section’s place.  Outside of some occasional whiteboard scribblings the film’s main character makes in a makeshift hospital bedroom, frustratingly no explanation for the two movies coalescing is given outside of a montage set to the protagonist strumming Carnavalito Tango at the keyboard. 

I’m especially fond of post-apocalyptic films touching on nuclear holocaust as well as stylish animation pushing artistic boundaries in terms of technique and meaning.  Ideally these two mediums being hastily sandwiched together should make for an enlightening if not intriguing experience.  Tragically the sophomore footage by (at-the-time) first time director Carl Colpaert doesn’t hold up when compared to Oshii’s towering achievement.  It’s kind of embarrassing for the Japanese master’s work of cinematic art to have some late-80s nuclear-holocaust cheapie leeching off it.

--Andrew Kotwicki