Hello, Remember me? I know it’s been awhile but life has taken over the last few months and the longer I left it, the more I struggled to actually find the motivation to sit down and write. Anyway, I’m back and ready for a productive year ahead. All the best to one and all.
Life After Flash is a documentary directed by Lisa Downs and was a full four years in the making. The film looks at the life of Sam J Jones and his iconic role as Flash Gordon plus the falls and mistakes he made along the way. It’s also a celebration of the 80’s Flash Gordon epic, taking us behind the scenes with those involved in the making of the film and the fans that still adore it to this day. Gordon is very much, alive.
I have reviewed Flash Gordon before so if you want to know my feelings about the film and learn more information about it, then click on the link below.
This review is going to be very short and sweet, I hope. I’ve only watched the documentary once on Vimeo and would have liked to dig deep more into it, but it is what it is and I would like to leave enough meat on the bone that you will go and watch it yourself because it really is worth the time.
Let’s start with the star of the film, Sam J Jones. I can’t really remember when I watched Flash Gordon for the first time but I know I was pretty young and it would have been at Christmas time in front of the television. I do have a very vivid memory though of thinking, Wow! that man really has it all. I know we all have a way of remembering the past through rose-tinted glasses but life really did feel so simple then. Fast forward thirty-five years or so and you understand life is not that simple, in Sam’s case, hardly simple at all.
Sam Jones was given the role of a lifetime as Flash Gordon, the film was to be a big-budget blockbuster and this could have taken him to the next level in his career. To be honest, I don’t think anyone involved in the making of the film ever thought it would have become so successful as it did. I know the actors involved in Star Wars thought they were just filming some goofy movie. Sam Jones had it all for the taking but funnily enough, he felt unloved on the set and after a few furious bust-ups with producer Dino De Laurentiis he walked away and never returned. To add the icing on the cake he later had his voice dubbed in the film. Was this a result of inexperience, bad advice or was it was just the actor’s ego that got in the way?
The truth is, I really didn’t care about what happened in that moment of Sam’s life when I found out what was really going on with him. As a child, I really did think he had it all but as an adult, I realise he was suffering and then it all made sense. Sam has had a pretty tragic childhood involving a drunken father and the loss of a brother at a young age and that’s putting it mildly. He may have been given the role of a lifetime but if your heads not in the right place mentally, it’s as good as lost. On a personal level and I’m guessing many of you reading can also relate to this.
What follows is years of self-abuse including, drugs, alcohol and plenty of women. Sounds pretty good for the time but when the party is over and the phone stops ringing, where else can you go? Luckily for Sam, he has now turned those negatives in his life into positives and has found some joy in again, thanks to his wife Ramona, Flash Gordon and you guessed it, God. I’m happy when anyone can find some peace of mind in life but I did find this part of the film to be a little too preachy for me as he tells us about the book that helped rebuild his life. I’m not saying I believe in a higher power or not, it just felt like a commercial and made me a little uncomfortable, but if it works for him then fine.
Now back to the film and it’s about to get crazy in Rochdale Town Hall in the UK. Peter Duncan aka Young Treeman is showing his valuable wood beast prop to visiting fans and to be honest, it kind of looks like a dead animal but hey ho! Sam Jones is definitely loved on these shores though, rubbing shoulders with Nasty Nick from Eastenders. I’m just teasing though as Sam does get to visit some more exotic conventions across the World and seems genuinely pleased to meet fans, taking time to talk to each and every one of them. I must admit, I have never been to a comic-book convention but it looks pretty surreal. Like I said earlier, I have only watched this film once but you really do get some real insights into the fanbase of this franchise. There are the prop collectors who passionately show of their treasures and amazing stories from the cast that help weave this wonderful production together. Brian Blessed tells us his story and he really can really steal the limelight in a few moments, I can literally listen to that man for hours. There is an appearance from Brain May who gives us a look into the soundtrack to the film which is pretty special. I’m quite impressed that there is so much in this film to really appreciate, it really is well made.
I have only scratched the surface on this documentary but Lisa Downs has created something I want to watch again and will buy the physical copy very soon. Not only that but she intends on to create a whole bunch of these films starting with Life After Navigator which explores the life of Joey Cramer from the motion picture Flight of the Navigator, that’s a story I would really like to learn more about and will try to support that anyway I can. Sam J Jones gives us an honest account of his life and his story and is really quite inspiring . . . . . . Long Live Flash.
Have you watched Life After Flash, what did you think about the film? Let me know your thoughts below and thanks for reading.