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30 Century Man

30 Century Man

Early in the documentary 30 Century Man, Scott Walker recollects his first visit to Sweden, in which he came to the horrific realization that vulgarity exists even among Scandinavians. Imagine Scott Walker, spending his whole adolescence daydreaming about Europe, suspecting his nationality switched at birth, yearning to unite with his brethren. Then he arrived in the land of Bergman and found a bunch of Woody Allen fans. Scott’s first taste of true worldliness must have been bitter. Certainly this anecdote has the potential to rouse more than nasal guffaws (which is what it got from the audience when I saw it). Director Steven Kijak could have distilled a thesis from this, might have used the theme of disillusionment as a catalyst for the exploration of Scott’s upbringing in the States, his expatriate identity, and the relation of these details to his solitary adulthood and finally to his music. Instead, Kijak transitions from Sweden to England with a little montage of stills from Bergman dramas and Ealing comedies.

Making an effort to appear more robust than Scott Walker’s Wikipedia entry, 30 Century Man opens with a Velvet Goldmine–type fairytale prologue. A female voice with a British accent—that “intercom of the future” voice familiar from Sixties sci-fi—relates the myth of Orpheus. In the first sixty seconds, there’s an attack on “lazy journalists” (a preemptive strike on the film’s critics). In the last sixty, a parade of pull quotes (“Extraordinary . . . close to genius,” says The Observer) pulled from reviews of his latest album, “The Drift.” Some kind of unconscious equating may occur: With all these blocks of praise-slathering text onscreen, the film might as well be concluding with its own trailer.

Click here to read the rest of Leah Churner’s review of Scott Walker: 30 Century Man.

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