Wednesday, February 29, 2012

"Beyond Lemuria: The Shaver Mystery and the Secrets of Mt. Shasta" is a slow but interesting film

Beyond Lemuria: The Shaver Mystery and the Secrets of Mt. Shasta” (2007), directed by Gregory Jenack and based on a story by Poke Runyon, is a slow moving, deliberately spoken and dream-like rendition of the “Lemuria” mystery, with a plot track that runs “in parallel”.

First, the “Shaver Mystery” refers to Richard Sharpe Shaver, who had written sci-fi "Amazing Stories" in the 1940s about an underground lost civilization.  And more of us have heard of Master Phylos the Tibetan (a somewhat elderly Merrick Rees Hammer in this film), and “A Dweller on Two Planets”.  And we all know the legends of Atlantis and the earlier Lemuria. (I recall seeing the edgy 1961 MGM film “Atlantis: The Lost Continent” by George Pal with the handsome Sal Ponti).

The story concerns a young graduate doctoral student William Morgan (Christofer Sanders), at the University of California at Fullerton, who is attending lectures on Lemuria and gets drawn into a group that will initiate him and take him on an adventure on and below Mt. Shasta.  The film takes him through some bizarre personal encounters, such as with a paralyzed man who gets healed, and uniform changes before he meets Phylos.  Then he goes on two simultaneous journeys, one below the mountain, with a society called the Draconians who possess a mysterious “Intragravatron”, and up on the mountain with the “Lothinians”.  Is he exploring a choice between two alternate realities?

The underground kingdom has a lot of beautiful artifacts and machines, and the colors and designs are quite striking. But eventually there is a terrible outcome: the government is going to seal off the cave, and the voyagers will be trapped underground forever.  So better take the alternate.  Even so, William goes through being blinded (as an almost Biblical punishment) and we finally see a little bit of what he is made of.  But there is still a chance to “see the Sun” (or Son) on the mountain.

The film has a side character, a fundamentalist preacher running a "National Crusade" of the most right-wing kind, including a lot of homophobic comments, which do get taken down by the main characters in the story (including William).  

The official site is here.  The film is distributed by Maelstrom Press .

I visited the Mt. Shasta area myself in May 1978 on vacation (during an interesting period of my personal life).  I remember seeing a dog eat a chocolate ice cream cone in the town.  I visited one of the shamans in town myself.  I visited some of the glass mountains and petroglyphs in the area and remember Neil Sedaka on the rental car radio, “There was a time when strangers were welcome here.”

Wikipedia attribution link for picture of Mt. Shasta.

For today’s “short film”, look at my “drama blog” on Jan. 26, 2011, with the Feb. 24 update, “I Care If You Listen: Hang #3” (about classical music, 20 min.), by Thomas Deneuville.     

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