Monday, 14 February 2011

80s Movies: Clue (1985)

If you haven't seen Clue, buy it now and watch it three times. You'll need to if you're hoping to catch up with the quick-talking, double-dealing and backwards logic of a film that lives entirely within the world of the board game of the same name (or, for us Brits, Cluedo).

The film apparently didn't do so well with the critics - but then, it is very silly, and critics tend to prefer the beautifully shot stuff over the well-written, finely acted humour. With a remake apparently in the works for 2013, it's obviously weathered the test of time well so far.

I only just found out why the game's called Cluedo in the UK - it's based on Ludo, which I probably should have realised - but the name was changed to Clue for the US release as Ludo's not so well known there (unlike the very similar game Parcheesi).

The Plot

Clue is, more or less, the cinematic play-out of a game of Cluedo. There's a body - which, thankfully, is none of the main characters who become the suspects. I've always felt it would have been easy to make, say, Mrs Peacock the victim and ruin the whole thing from the start. There are the usual suspects as appear in the game. There's a butler (Tim Curry) who helps to drive things along. And there are clues - not to mention a few more murders - along the way, for anyone playing along at home.

This is a long way from being a true detective story, so don't strain your little grey cells trying to work it out. It's also a stone's throw short of a full game of Cluedo, as there are not really enough clues for a definitive solution. But it's a lot of fun and very, very watchable - over, and over, and over again.

The Game

Most people will have played Cluedo at least once in their life, I'd say. I remember being very little, playing it, and not really understanding what was going on - although later in life I got pretty good at logic problems, which might have something to do with all the Cluedo and Risk we played growing up.

The ending of Clue pays the truest of homages to the game, I think - anyone who's played the game will probably have made an accusation that they know must be correct, only to discover they've got their logic wrong somewhere along the way. In the case of Clue, the film has three possible endings, each of which is explained in full and stands up pretty well to the analysis.

In the original cinema release, only one of the three endings was shown - and that was a random decision based on which of three different final reels had been sent to the cinema you chose. Thankfully, the DVD gives us all three, separated by flash cards that have become one of my favourite ever (yes, really) cinematic devices. I just love those "That's how it could have happened" moments - always have, always will.

In Summary

All of the modern-day game-turned-movie films based on console games can look to Clue for how it should be done. It epitomises the game on which it is based - as does 2005's Doom, to be fair - and shows the true power of cinema to bring alive a world previously inhabited by little wooden pegs on a gridlined board.

80s Movies

In February, POPSICULTURE are dedicating the month to a look back at the iconic films of the 1980s - a decade whose films continue to draw massive audiences when they are shown on TV. To follow posts in this series, check the 80s Movies label or sign up to the dedicated RSS feed.

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