The Mystery Of The Pink Flamingo


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

The Mystery Of The Pink Flamingo
"In danger of possessing meaning and value despite itself."

What is it about pink? Love it or hate it, it's a colour that provokes intense emotion. Flamingos, of course, aren't really pink at all, merely stained that colour by the food they eat, but for many people that makes them still more perfect as ambassadors for the colour. To love pink is, often, to love artificiality. There's an artificial character to this documentary, which blurs the real and the fictional as it follows an eccentric sound designer on his quest to understand the iconic status of the flamingo and its place in contemporary culture.

Is the flamingo an important cultural symbol? "No!" says one of his interviewees, snorting with laughter. But they agree that they lose it all the same. In a way, it's its opposition to every conventional cultural value that makes it so appealing. "Are these real?" our hero asks later, stroking the head of a flamingo statue. "Yes," says the owner proudly. "Genuine concrete...Absolutely no plastic."

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There's a deeper examination of kitsch culture here (if kitsch is the word) and a celebration of the accumulation of objects purely for the sake of the joy that they bring. The more meaningless the object, the more effectively it misses all available points, the greater its value - as long as it has been made with sincerity. Of course, it would be impossible to discuss flamingos without a contribution from John Waters, who is always on hand to support indie documentaries, and who discourses here on the importance of going against the grain. Other celebrities taking part include Hollywood's Pink Lady, one of those Tinseltown stars who has carved out a space for herself not by way of any particular talent but simply by going to extremes.

Surprisingly wide-ranging in light of its subject, and in danger of possessing meaning and value despite itself, this celebration of the lighthearted, the flimsy and the faintly ridiculous warms the heart. At its core it's about the freedom to like what you like without shame, and it will appeal to flamingo lovers everywhere.

Reviewed on: 04 Dec 2020
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The Mystery Of The Pink Flamingo packshot
A square sound engineer employs unusual research efforts to reveal the secrets behind the quintessential icon of kitsch, the pink flamingo.
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Director: Javier Polo Gandía

Writer: Javier Polo Gandía, Sixto Xavier García

Starring: Eduardo Casanova, Allee Willis, John Waters, Rigo Pex

Year: 2020

Runtime: 80 minutes

Country: Spain


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