The Royal Road

2016 • 64 minutes
2 reviews
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About this movie

A cinematic essay in defense of remembering, The Royal Road offers up a primer on Junipero Serra's Spanish colonization of California and the Mexican American War alongside intimate reflections on nostalgia, the pursuit of unavailable women, butch identity and Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo -- all against a contemplative backdrop of 16mm urban California landscapes, and featuring a voiceover cameo by Tony Kushner. This bold, innovative film from acclaimed San Francisco filmmaker Jenni Olson combines rigorous historical research with lyrically written personal monologue and relates these seemingly disparate stories from an intimate, colloquial perspective to tell a one-of-a-kind California tale.

Ratings and reviews

2 reviews
Tom Rielly
January 18, 2017
An exhilarating exploration of identity, relationships, nostalgia and the mis-remembering of history, all set against the territory now called California, which is the film's second biggest character. The Royal Road refers to the El Camino Real, the main North/South throroughfare during Spanish colonial times, parts of which remain today. Olson presents a landscape fllm, with locked off shots and long takes forcing you to really look at the cityscapes You'll also find a cameo from playwright Tony Kushner, a witty exegesis on movies like Vertigo and Roman Holiday, and a peeling back of the mythology of the origin of California, and the horrible toll extracted on Mexico in the process.Though it's experimental in some senses, Road is complete accessible to everyone regardless of background. It's fiendishly constructed; as you have more time you will more of the strings, the yarn and the complex braiding of the narrative. Beautiful, witty, brainy, fresh, and totally different from normal films. I highly recommend it. (note: I am a friend of the filmmaker and a financial supporter of the project, but I'd say exactly the same thing if I weren't)
Jenni Olson
September 23, 2016
Hi everyone — I really hope you will take a look at this film. It is my second feature-length essay film and while it is very unconventional (16mm durational urban landscapes and voiceover) for those who are looking for something different I think you will enjoy it. Thanks so much and please post your comments. I'm curious to see what everyone thinks of it.