Andrew Pulver: Rock star Bruce Dickinson flies in to bring a touch of Satan to the Croisette

Andrew Pulver on Iron Maiden's Bruce Dickinson's new film, Chemical Wedding

Metal god, actor, novelist, swordsman, pilot, DJ - and now screenwriter. Iron Maiden's Bruce Dickinson is a man of many parts, and this weekend he showed up in Cannes to show off a new film called Chemical Wedding. Dickinson, a registered commercial airline pilot, flew himself to the south of France, along with a bunch of journalists, fans, and suitably attired hangers-on (they carried tote bags bearing the legend "Bruce Air Flight 666").

There's something very Iron Maiden about Wedding, dabbling as it does in the occult world of early-20th-century mystic Aleister Crowley, finding several excuses to liberate young women from their clothes, and incorporating dialogue that sounds as if it was lifted from the Number of the Beast's lyric sheet. It would all be too ridiculous if Dickinson were not such a nice, unassuming chap - the 49-year-old product of a minor public school with a penchant for satanic imagery.

When Dickinson sits down with Chemical Wedding director Julian Doyle (a veteran of Iron Maiden videos and Terry Gilliam's editing room) the pair clearly get on like a house on fire. Dickinson says Chemical Wedding has been in the works for 15 years, having passed through a number of producers; in the end, he got the thing off the ground himself.

"I started getting into Aleister Crowley when I was 15," he says. "He was the first rock star." He adds that Chemical Wedding is "Withnail & I meets The Wicker Man", which must have sounded good in those pitch meetings.

Without Dickinson, Chemical Wedding would have remained one of the submerged nine-tenths of gunk films clogging up the Cannes film market. Hampered by ropey performances, it never reaches the levels of weirdness and humour it is aiming at. But Dickinson, game as ever, can't resist a final, harmless blasphemy: "We bring Crowley back for three days. Like Christ. Only better." Get your devil-horn salute ready now.


Andrew Pulver

The GuardianTramp

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