Filmmaker William Wall wears many hats. This is evident when perusing the credits of his feature film debut “The Immortal Edward Lumley” as most of the positions found under the crew category belong to him. In fact, instead of listing all the tasks Mr. Wall took on (Directing, Writing, Editing…etc.), it is a more efficient idea to merely state that he did NOT compose the score. Other than that, this is a One-Man Show and a very impressive one at that.
Before delving into what “The Immortal Edward Lumley” is about let’s briefly speak of how it came to be. The film is an ultra-low budget Comedy Fantasy that took two years to make and was filmed entirely in beautiful San Diego County. The majority of footage was shot in a two-car garage in front of a green screen. Despite this fact, no CGI was used. Instead most scenes are made up of expertly cobbled together composite shots. While the final cost of the production is said to be only $12,000 you would not know by looking at it. The story spans several hundred years and spends most of its time in a warped world called Oblivion. When you consider that “Paranormal Activity” (another San Diego product!) gained deserved notoriety for being made for roughly the same money but only featured two people sitting in a house, the scope and accomplishment of “Edward Lumley” is all the more apparent.
To state the obvious and to illustrate that this film is aptly named, let’s begin by saying that “The Immortal Edward Lumley” is about a man named Edward Lumley (Ken Fiedler) who is immortal. As our hero treks through time he is pestered by the truth that he does not know why he cannot die. Yet die he does, again and again, to no avail.
Edward journeys to Oblivion (think Wonderland on bath salts) in search of the reason for his immortality. And much like Alice, Edward stumbles upon many cracked and twisted characters along the way including a rotting witch (Pia Thrasher), a mammoth Viking (Jay Secord) and the sole member of the Oblivion Army (Mr. Wall again. I’m telling you, he wears a plethora of hats). All the while, Ed is pursued by an arcane figure that holds the secret to his immortality.
“The Immortal Edward Lumley” captures the madcap feeling of Lewis Carroll fused with bits and pieces of Monty Python. The script is loaded with the clever wordplay needed for this sort of endeavor and finds plenty of laughs are culled from the craziness. The prime example is the loopy Percival (Steve Terrones) who puts the Bat-Shit in bonkers. The exchange between him and Edward produced constant giggles.
Visually the film is a stunner. The landscape of Oblivion is a living collage, moving and shifting. The influences of Terry Gilliam, David McKean and Tim Burton seep through but much of this is William Wall’s singular vision. The extensive use of green screen is apparent but it can be argued that this gives the film a dream-like quality that works with this material.
As is true with nearly all episodic films, “The Immortal Edward Lumley” does lose some steam along the way. Many of the encounters with these characters hit on the same sort of lunacy and they start to become repetitive. This is the danger with this structure. Disney’s “Alice in Wonderland” is only 75 minutes long and even that classic retelling limps to the finish-line in that short running time. (This is probably why Burton dropped the structure for his do-over and turned the story into more of a standard narrative). A couple of the vignettes could have been lost, especially the meeting with Edward’s doppelganger Edgard Locksley that proves to have very little point to it.
With that said, “The Immortal Edward Lumley” succeeds in transporting us to another world and tells a funny and compelling story. The facts behind the film are amazing and Mr. Wall has himself a hell of a “calling card” that the Power Suits in that crazy place called Hollywood (think Wonderland on bath salts) will have to take notice.