The Twentieth Century is a Canadian satirical comedy about the early career of Canadian prime minister William Lyon Mackenzie King. King was prime minister of Canada, serving three non consecutive terms. He most notably led Canada through World War II.
The film is reminiscent of a Terry Gilliam film, with its surrealist symbolism and playful imagery. There are also elements of John Waters-esque bizarro sexual comedy intertwined with hilariously crude jokes. Crossdressing mother figures, twisted fetishes, a sexualized phallic cactus, and absolutely outrageous dialogue contribute to this ridiculously satirical rewriting of Canadian history.
William Lyon Mackenzie King is portrayed as a simpleton whose idealistic view of the world is wrapped in theatrical nonsense. He is obsessed with a vision of destiny that has him leading Canada into a new era of glory. Faced with ridicule King’s quest to be the destined leader takes him through a series of completely strange interactions, perversions and the resistance to a cult like ruler that the people worship.
This has all the makings of a film that would appeal to the Monty Python crowd but also fans of bizarre b-movies. Being a Canadian film the actors are unknown to me and the acting itself is more like a staged play than a feature film. The sets are wonderfully futuristic but also comically simplistic. I admit the movie is a bit hard to follow, which may very well be my ignorance of Canadian history, but it’s also just a very weird movie. I think if you like Terry Gilliam or John Waters, you’ll enjoy this one. If not, you might just scratch your head and wonder what the hell is going on?