Ethiopian post apocalypse dystopian fairy tale Crumbs has a decaying handsomeness to match its unique vision. It has a confident and accomplished auteur unwillingness for either pandering or traditionally pleasing its audience while simultaneously offering an archetypal hero-journey tale. An optimistic message (“the ducks are coming home…”) cloaked in a walkabout of despair and confusion that leads ultimately to ‘home is where the heart is.’ platitudes that are not platitudes for sheer will of the performances.
That eerie feeling you get wandering the early morning fog of an abandoned theme park is what Miguel Llansó has harnessed here, and the gorgeous melancholy is tempered with a sharp wit and soothing empathy. The film is a balm. It is also an African riff on Stalker, with the whole world being Tarkovsky’s uncanny Zone. It has a similar abandoned train-yard, a pretty young woman left at home in a deliciously decayed bowling alley. Water bubbles and broils in the post-nuclear desert of sulphur formations while the few remaining humans scavenge and weld. A curious space-ship floats in the sky similar to South Africa’s District 9, albeit similarities to Neill Blomkamp’s debut feature sharply end here.
Those on earth, in particular, hunchbacked pacifist Candy, dream of marshalling the means to get to that ship, as if it were the last hopeful place. It will take his journey through the wasteland towards a meeting with the fabled prophet Santa Claus, avoiding the ‘Second Generation Nazis’ and other third century Molegan warriors. Holy artifacts such as an acrylic painted vulcanized rubber Ninja Samurai Statue (i.e. a happy meal Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle figure), a vinyl copy of Michael Jackson’s “Dangerous” and other twentieth century pop cultural detritus delicately litter the world and act as a kind of talismans of hope and desire; as well as consumer currency for a comically cynical pawn shop broker at the end of space and time. A photo of sweat-beaded-on-his-forehead, Michael Jordan clothed in his Chicago Bulls uniform is Buddha, Shiva and Christ, all rolled into one. It is played for easy yuks, and yet they still land. More sophisticated comedy is also present in the Santa Claus’ inflexible process. It reminds me of a mix of Terry Gilliam’s Brazil mashed with Mel Brook’s Spaceballs: “Fuck! Even in the post-apocalypse nothing works without bureaucracy!”