Escape from New York

Escape from New York ★★★½

Fantastic world building -- an oil rig in a ransacked library is the sort of stuff I want to see! It creates a playground for the apocalyptic imagination that extends far beyond the storyline. Feels like you could wander away from the plot and camera. Also resists the hero narrative I expected, which hurt a bit, but is probably for the best. RIP to the radical cause.

Filmed in some very surprising and iconic St Louis locations. A funny follow-up viewing to Meet Me in St Louis, where St Louis is compared favorably to New York as a more wholesome and All-American up-and-coming city. Fast forward forty years, and Escape is filmed in stl because no one will recognize the locations and it can easily be made to look like a place you want to escape, a stand in for a ruined New York.

"St. Louis - unbelievable!" says Carpenter "We went there because, well, there were certain sequences we just couldn't do in New York; they would have tied up the whole city too much. And St. Louis, due to a major fire they had there in 1977, now has just the right amount of emptiness in the downtown area. Also the right architecture. So much of the city looks vacant and dead; perfect for our needs since we couldn't use anything looking new or fresh. The city officials literally turned over the city to us. They'd shut down 10 blocks at a time to help us. I was told they hadn't hosted a major film for 15 years; they don't even have a real film commission, just a Department of Tourism. They let us trash it up, and do anything we needed." A major coup was finding, in St Louis, an exact replica - deserted, desolate, unused - of New York's Grand Central Station, complete with a train engine. Says Carpenter, "I was told it's the biggest roofed-in area in the world. We walked in and said, 'My Lord! We don't even have to dress it!'"

Outline for a better review: this movie reflects something something urban renewal, something something Gerald Ford let New York fall into bankruptcy and melt, something something St Louis' mid-century decline.

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