Peter Weir Philip Strick - Essay

Philip Strick

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Like all the best fantasies, [The Cars that Ate Paris] illuminates the truth with its headlights; the film's title in fact works as a metaphor, and Paris could as well be London, New York, or actually Paris. The erosion of humanity by malevolent technological influences is actually more cliché than truth, perhaps, and the peculiarly immediate effect of the car on the personality has been lovingly revealed by the cinema many times …, but The Cars that Ate Paris is closer to [Kurosawa's] Dodes'ka-den than to [Lazlo Benedek's] The Wild One, closer to Arrabal and Ballard than to Asimov. Which is not to say that the film is always certain of its destination; Australian domestic comedies, remorselessly twanging on the same threadbare lines of humour, have left their mark, and the Royal Portrait still hangs behind the mayoral desk…. But, as with that other masterpiece of anarchy, [George Romero's] Night of the Living Dead, the suspension of conventional dramatic laws adds a curious potency to the thrust of the film, and we find ourselves in an uneasy and uncharted territory where logic has taken a blind turning and there is no escape route. (p. 102)

Philip Strick, "'The Cars that Ate Paris'," in Monthly Film Bulletin (copyright © The British Film Institute, 1975), Vol. 42, No. 496, May, 1975, pp. 101-02.