Director / Cinematography: Les Blank
Production Co.: Dox Deluxe Ltd / Flower Films, in association with BBC / Centre de l'Audio-Visuel à Bruxelles / La Sept / WNET (NY) / WDR / Miel Van Hoogenbemt
Producer: Vikram Jayanti
Editor / Sound: Chris Simon
Music: Bob Dylan, Bo Diddley, Fats Waller, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart & various European folk musics
Tour Group KH1009A
Firmly established as a sympathetic recorder of other people's cultures, white American filmmaker Les Blank now turns his camera on something resembling his own, as he and Chris Simon join a busload of American tourists on a whirlwind tour of Europe. Globus Gateway 'European Horizons' Tour number KH1009A leaves London carrying forty American tourists in the expert hands of British tour director, Mark Tinney. In fourteen days of frantic currency-changing they cover 3,000 miles and visit twenty-four European cities.
Tinney's expertise informs the film on several levels. The well rehearsed commentaries he imparts to the travellers are lively, intelligent and entertaining - as are the commentaries he supplies about them and about his job to us. On a good tour, he says, "one hopes they don't entirely lose their individuality, but there certainly is a group ethos... much to my relief." That ethos is treated generously in this funny film. While there's no shortage of American bumptiousness on display ("The Rhine Falls are real nice, but they're not as impressive as Niagara"), the film's overall impression is of excited travellers barrelling along on the tour of a lifetime. There's safety in numbers, of course; an interview with an elderly couple, still jittery after getting lost in Rome, makes it very clear that it's security that makes adventure possible for these mostly retired people.
If Europe has become a museum, Blank's film enables some of the exhibits to talk back; the perspective of Americans looking at Europeans is matched with some markedly varied responses from Europeans working or living in popular tourist destinations. And as you'd expect of any project involving Les Blank, there's a wealth of music keeping this movie on the road; Bob Dylan, Bo Diddley, Fats Waller and Mozart, not to mention the European folk and traditional music recorded along the way.
- Bill Gosden, Wellington Film Festival Catalogue, 1992