Trailer – The Attempt (Edward Thomas)

Above is the trailer for my final short of the year, a film detailing an event in the life of the poet and writer, Edward Thomas.  I’ve had a personal fascination with Thomas for a few years now, properly diving into his work early last year and finding much in common with both his mentality and his style of writing.  The film is based loosely on his short story, The Attempt from his volume of writing Light and Twilight (1911); itself a story that tells of his own attempt at suicide after a particularly bad spate of work and depression that same year.  Research revealed Thomas’ schedule of work to be of an unprecedented level and I wanted to link both the release of this pressure into the landscape with the foreshadowing of Thomas’ eventual role and tragic death some years into World War One. I hope that I’ve been as delicate and respectful to Thomas’ memory and legacy as is conceivably possible; the film is built from nothing but admiration and a quiet recognition of his many personal dilemmas.

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The film is also built around a reading of Thomas’ poem, The Path, possibly my favourite poem by him.  I had initially considered using a recording of the poem produced by Thomas’ wife, Helen, but the complexity of using this audio became too great to overcome.  Instead, I asked Robert Macfarlane again for his help, knowing his voice and reading would be perfect for it due to him quoting the poem beautifully in our last collaboration, Holloway.  The film also was initially meant to simply have a natural soundscape with various effects but, after some meetings with Daniel Thorne of the Immix Ensemble, it turned into a further collaboration that works in such perfect synchronicity that I’m surprised at myself for not originally considering such a musical potential in the first place.  As can be ascertained from the trailer, the music is a beautiful fit and hints towards Thomas’ predisposed melancholia perfectly.  I was also lucky enough to call upon Joel Whitall again who keen-eyed viewer may remember played the unfortunate character in The Coastal Path; his casting being both due to his brilliance as a physical, visual actor and his quite uncanny likeness to a slightly younger version of Thomas.

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The film will be online in December on Caught By The River with a far more detailed essay about Thomas, landscape and mental health but, for now, I hope the trailer conveys what I feel to personally be the strongest film I’ve made so far: “… and the path that looks as if it led on to some legendary or fancied place where men have wished to go and stay; till, sudden, it ends where the wood ends.”

Adam.

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3 thoughts on “Trailer – The Attempt (Edward Thomas)

  1. Very much looking forward to seeing this. I have visited the area where Thomas lived and walked a number of times. Also I saw the play about his later life when it was at the Almeida in Islington.

  2. Adam, this is another exciting development on your magnificent path of achievements. I look forward to seeing the completed version. I used to work as a digital photographer in the Bodleian Library and one of my most ‘haunting’ jobs was to have digitized the pocket notebook/diary which was found in the tunic of Edward Thomas’ uniform after he was killed by a shell blast.

    The diary was given to his son Merfyn and rediscovered by his son Edward in 1970 amongst various papers and documents belonging to his father. Here is the link to the digital version of the diary held in the Oxford University First World War Digital Archive: https://www.oucs.ox.ac.uk/ww1lit/collections/document/1693/1367

    Julius

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