Picks and Pans Review: Aria

updated 05/23/1988 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/23/1988 AT 01:00 AM EDT

You're an adult, eager for something meatier in a movie than a heroic dwarf or a hellish zombie. This one, you hope, might be it: an opera film containing 10 arias, each directed by a prestige filmmaker. High kulchur? Hardly. Snob appeal is worth about 7 cents at the box office. To win the younger audience, producer Don Boyd takes the rock-video approach. The operas themselves are scrapped, making way for revved-up, sexed-up MTV vignettes provided by the directors. Jean-Luc Godard, the French master of the New Wave cinema since Breathless in 1959, places Lully's Armide in a gym with sweating bodies gyrating to the music. Bruce (Crimes of the Heart) Beresford is content to watch a couple strip to the strains of Erich Korngold's Die Tote Stadt. Wild man Ken (Gothic) Russell sees Puccini's "Nessun Dorma" as a chance to show how an injured woman in an auto wreck imagines herself being anointed for death by high priests. One keeps wondering who this movie was made for. Video addicts will scratch their heads; opera purists will tear at the hair on theirs. Once again Hollywood, in trying to profit most, pleases least. (R)

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