Jenni Olson’s The Royal Road
Wolfe Video, a distributor of LGBT films in DVD and streaming formats announces the release of Jenni Olson’s latest film The Royal Road. The film offers a unique blend of history lesson, memoir, and essay, featuring stark images with very little motion as the backdrop to a voice-over narration by Olson herself.
The Royal Road begins with Olson recalling the feeling of escape she found in movies, which served as a means to avoid the awkwardness of real life for her as a gender dysphoric teenager. But while the film weaves in wonderful recollections of classic films such as Billy Wilder’s Sunset Boulevard and Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo, it’s really about the history of California, and therefore of the United States. Olson astutely examines the mythology of the American West and collective amnesia about how California and other areas of the West came to be part of our nation. Specifically, she focuses on El Camino Real, the oldest road in California’s history, which was a missionary route created by Spain when the region was part of the Spanish Empire. So fixated are we on New England and the East Coast of colonial America that it comes as a mild surprise to be talking about Spanish imperialism, so long forgotten.
At the same time, Olson speaks of her own personal mythologies and her often unrequited love for women she cannot have. In doing so, the film speaks from a queer perspective without requiring a queer audience necessarily, as the overlap in the subjects crossover to something much deeper than gender or sexual orientation, to that which is human and, more specifically, American.
Although The Royal Road becomes a bit of an endurance test, denying us our need for a break in the intentionally slow format, the subject matter is fascinating and increasingly relevant even as it is predominantly about the past, and it is all told from a unique intellectual perspective.
The Royal Road will be released via Wolfe Video on September 6th on DVD / VOD, across all digital platforms including iTunes, Vimeo On Demand, and WolfeOnDemand.com, and will also be available same date on DVD via Wolfe Video and many major retailers.