The first of director Richard Lester's rare diversions from comedy, Petulia, which followed Lester's Beatles films and the acidic satire of How I Won the War, nonetheless finds him expanding on the themes of his earlier work. Adapting John Haase's novel Me and the Arch Kook Petulia, the story of a brief, interrupted love affair between a middle-aged doctor (George C. Scott) and a young, with-it bride (Julie Christie) allows Lester to renew his study of the clash between generations, and between culture and counterculture. But Lester never allows this subtext to overwhelm the story itself, keeping a disciplined watch on the film's most striking feature, its radically novel approach to editing. With little warning, the film flashes periodically to seemingly unrelated scenes, whether real or imagined, past or present becoming clear only as the film progresses. Always pioneering in his cutting, Lester here helps push the limits of what cinematic storytelling could do. (Lester disciple Stephen Soderbergh's work owes a special debt to Petulia). As exciting as this is, it's the director's overall handling of the story, abetted by peerless work from his two leads and cinematographer Nicholas Roeg, that make his material as emotionally engaging as it is formally challenging and culturally resonant. Though rarely heralded as such, Petulia is a major accomplishment, a moving human story that's also one of the great films from and about the 1960s.