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USA, 1981 (MIFF 1982)

Director: David Carradine

A Vietnam veteran turns up in a small town in Kansas. Instead of just passing through, he hangs around. He starts to restore a broken-down merry-go-round and, gradually, the town's people become fascinated, then ignore him and, finally, turn on him.

Americana is the first feature film to be directed by David Carradine, one of several actor-sons of John Carradine. Shot in 1973, the film was recently completed, paid for from Carradine's earnings as an actor The simple storyline outlined above is hardly a hint of the film's many virtues. It is a film in which the silence of the main character is a device echoed by a refusal to give the audience formal explanation of what is taking place. The reasons behind the soldier's decision to re-build the merry-go-round are never clear. The effects this obsession has on the town are, however, remarkably drawn. Fear and hostility towards the unknown, intolerance of the strange and unusual: these are the details which are revealed and they contrast ironically with the rather erratic and often pathetic lives of the inhabitants.

David Carradine was right to finish his film. It marks an important debut and an interesting addition to the ranks of those few American directors who are prepared to let things happen with gentle grace.

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