Touching you in your hamster cage
Larry Kent is the original independent Canadian filmmaker. Beginning with his first UBC film Bitter Ash in 1963, he then completed his â€œVancouver Trilogyâ€ and moved to Montreal where he made the controversial, pseudo-psychedelic counter culture film High in 1967.
His newest movie, The Hamster Cage, still deals with themes of rebellion and disillusionment but instead of having kids speaking frankly about sex and smoking a little reefer, a family meets for dinner where child molestation, abuse, incest and murder are all on the table.
ONLY: Thatâ€™s one seriously fucked up family.
Larry Kent: (Hearty chuckle) I think itâ€™s the average family.
ONLY: You certainly took a dark direction with this particular film but it is also a comedy. Itâ€™s actually quite liberating.
LK: Good, thatâ€™s what I wanted. I didnâ€™t want to make another depressing Canadian film. And I think that we treated the subject very seriously but in a very comic vein.
ONLY: Why is the theme of youthful rebellion so important to you?
LK: Well, I think that when we rebel in youth itâ€™s to change things, to start anew. And then in the end itâ€™s the same old same old. But for a brief spark of a moment in everybodyâ€™s life they sort of reject not only what their parents have told them, but also what society is telling them and everything else, and they want to break out of that cage. But then as they get older they fall right back into it.
ONLY: The characters, Paul and Lucy certainly manage to break the cycle of abuse. In the end they accept their own fate and the consequences of their actions.
LK: I think thatâ€™s true, and in a funny way they are far more hopeful than any of the characters in my other films where if the gods are against something, there isnâ€™t a hell of a lot you can do about it. Where as here, no matter what the gods are doing, they are able to break the chain. And I think that is very positive. Although, the negative side is that they didnâ€™t break it in a positive way.
ONLY: The film has a lot of literary references to works like Waiting for Godot, and more obviously Oedipus and Lolita. How did they work themselves into the script?
LK: Well when youâ€™re working on a film, especially if you are trying to get money from a funding body, the script keeps coming back with rejection after rejection. But in the meantime there are things that are said and you keep coming back and rewriting and rewriting, which is great, and I think we realized after the first draft the importance of the Oedipal thing. And also, these are people who are literate you know? They are not lower class, working people who in the throws of their drunkenness commit incest or whatever. They are highly literate, I mean Phil is winning the Nobel Prize, and all of this is really, really important. They are people one would assume who would be very aware of how they should behave. And probably are aware of how they should behave outside of their own milieu. But in their own family we see the corruption right to the core.
ONLY: You moved to Montreal years ago but came back here with this film. Itâ€™s set in Vancouverâ€¦
LK: Itâ€™s set on an estate in Langley. That seems to me to be the ultimate you know? The Fraser riverâ€¦the beauty, and yetâ€¦thereâ€™s absolute corruption thatâ€™s going on. Whenever youâ€™re in British Columbia, youâ€™re always stunned by the beauty. And then you get Campbell you know, as the Premierâ€¦ Well thatâ€™s exactly the opposite.
Opens September 8,2006 at 5th Avenue