Random Quest (2006)

Back in 2004, BBC 4 was so impressed by the success of the new Doctor Who that they commissioned a live remake of The Quatermass Experiment.  Its modest success led them to remake the classic BBC serial, A for Andromeda, the next year and this film in 2006.

I’m not sure what the first two films cost, but one certainly gets the impression that this one had a far lower budget.  In fact, other than a few shots of swirling nebulae and the explosive event that propels the hero into another dimension, one would be hard pressed to note anything they spent much money on – particularly if, as I suspect, the few shots we get of the alternate world (and in particular the ultramodern chic of the alternate Colin’s house) were just the result of carefully selected locations.

Certainly the story itself is far more modest, with no alien creatures or fears of alien invasion.  Instead, we get Colin, a particle physicist being blown into another universe by an accident, where he falls in love with his double’s wife Ottilie.

It is an adaptation of the short story by British SF writer John Wyndham, and I suspect that they might have made this odd choice because, like the previous two films in the series, there was an earlier BBC version of the story which is now lost.   However, unlike the others, the earlier version appeared on the series Out of the Unknown and lacks the cachet of the other two.  I have to admit it would have been far more interesting if they’d remade Nigel Kneale’s lost TV play, The Creature (filmed by Hammer as The Abominable Snowman).

This is a modest little film, with a certain amount of visual flair and a moderately interesting story.  Thanks to its short running length, it doesn’t wear out its welcome.  However, one does feel that it doesn’t give us any better reason for his falling in love with Ottilie beyond a few references to destiny.  They did make an effort to update the story with references to string theory, but its insistence that choice is an illusion, and that all possible paths are followed in other universes make a mockery of the story, if one stops and thinks about it.

After all, that would make Colin’s quest truly random.


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