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The Illustrated Man: A Memory of Time
The Illustrated Man breaks from typical sci-fi/fantasy, which tends towards the space opera and sword-and-sorcery genres, and instead tries to play with its audience's imagination. Unfortunately, it just ends up confusing them. The movie wants its audience to realize that the trappings of the modern world, symbolized by tattoos and the power of the past, are not the source of happiness, rather it is our connections with other people; however, the movie is so confusing and convoluted, that, despite some good (albeit slightly too intense) performance by the actors, rather than challenging your impression of reality the movie just irritates you. If you're looking for something decent and entertaining, watch something else.
Part of what makes the movie difficult to understand is it is divided into three futuristic stories that are printed on the body of the Illustrated Man, a character named Carl (played with an annoying macho intensity by (Rod Steiger). When Carl first meets Richard (Robert Drivas), he acts hostile and aggressive, showing his naked, tattooed upper body and expressing his anger at those tattoos-which were made by Felicia (Claire Bloom), a women Carl once loved. Every tattoo explains part of Carl's past, but it isn't until the end of the movie that Felicia explains the tattoos' magic purpose: "Each person who tries to see beyond his own time must face questions to which there cannot yet be proven answers."
Through each story you can see that the movie is playing with you all time, but rather than being profound, it just gets confusing. For example, the movie never explains when Carl and Felicia have kids together; they just get kids. He also hates his tattoos, considering them a curse, but at the same time he loves them, like an addiction. And when he tries to get away from Felicia and stop getting tattoos, she seduces him, and he gives himself to her, but they don't rally explain what, other than Felicia being sexy, that keeps him there.
This film is really good about not getting too extreme with technology, even though it is all about the future. But the screenplay was poorly done, and the actors expressions of their feelings get too dramatic. It is an stressful movie with too many plot holes. One example of this is when Felicia and Him are supposed to be in a space ship trying to put their children to bed: again, when do they have kids? When did they fall in love? The movie never tells us.
The movie is an adaptation of Ray Bradbury's story of the same name. While I haven't read the book, it seems like a good story. But this movie isn't a very good one.