Also known as "Alba pagana" or "May Morning in
Oxford", May Morning is an Italian-made story
about the hypocrisy at Oxford in 1970. The title refers to a tradition so
old that nobody knows where or when it originated. "May Morning" is
the morning of May first, when a hymn is sung in the gardens. The
night before that is the time for an Oxford Commons ball, where a
more recent tradition requires all
of the students to get drunk while dancing to really bad rock music, then screw in
the grass. This is the setting for our story.
Note that I am writing a complete spoiler, in the
hopes of convincing all of you not only to avoid this film, but to
be highly suspicious of anyone who has seen it and praises it.
The story centers on Valerio Manelli, an Italian underclassman who
just doesn't fit in, which is a serious problem at Oxford. He is an excellent oarsman,
however, and is given a
chance to row on the main Oxford crew, which would make him a "blueman"
and pretty much stop all the harassment. Regrettably, the daughter of
his tutor (Jane Birkin), who is also the girlfriend of one of the most important
upperclassmen, tries to seduce him, and her mother is
caught watching them. Manelli tries to apologize to the
upperclassman, who becomes offended at the conversation as bad form.
The upperclassman baits him into saying the wrong thing at the
dining hall, and challenges him to drink two quarts of beer in 30
seconds. When Manelli refuses, he is booed out of the hall, and
finds he has lost his place on the crew.
Going back to the upperclassman to try and work things out, he ends
up beating him up, and is "rusticated," or kicked out. He has until
the next evening to pack and leave. A bitter Manelli convinces Birkin and the
upperclassman that he is going to go screw her mother. It is
probably important at this point to mention that Birkin's mother is a voyeur and has a thing
for young girls, and that her father is either gay or a
cross-dresser or both. They follow
him, and find her mother undressing and caressing an inebriated
young girl Manelli brought along for the purpose. Birkin runs out,
heading back to the Commons and Manelli follows.
Then the film gets strange. Manelli helps restrain Birkin while the
band gang-rapes her. Then he makes love to her. The two leave arm in
arm, heading for a punt boat so he can take her home. At that point
she pushes him
into the river, whereupon she and the band members beat him to death with
Scoop's notes in yellow:
I haven't seen the
film and, after reading Tuna's comments, never will.
But the tag line on
the DVD box cracked me up:
"They laughed. They danced. They
loved. They killed."
It's a Mel Brooks
song. Recognize it? It's the theme from Mel's Robin Hood spoof,
"When Things were Rotten."
"They laughed. They loved. They
fought. They drank.
They jumped a lot of fences.
They robbed the rich - gave to the poor
- except what they kept for expenses!"