British cinema in the early 1950s appears to have been fond of experimenting with other art forms. Powell and Pressburger were transplanting opera and dance into the form in their colour zoetrope Offenbach amalgamation, The Tales Of Hoffmann (1951) (and slightly earlier in The Red Shoes (1948)) whilst Laurence Olivier was continuing his melding of Shakespearean theatre with celluloid in Richard III (1955). The great … Continue reading Murder In The Cathedral (1952) – George Hoellering (BFI).
On the sleeves notes of the new release of the BBC’s 1964-65 series of Sherlock Holmes adventures, it is suggested that the series is “Regarded by many to be the best incarnation of the Baker Street sleuth…”. Within further, more detailed essays in the accompanying booklet, the opinion seems to be one that is shared; that in spite of the great technical set-backs the series … Continue reading Sherlock Holmes (1964-65) – BFI.
A shifting sense of time, space, and place can bring huge advantages to fantastical works of fiction. The feeling that time is a folded concept, repeating and resetting in a quasi-ritualistic ceremony of life adds a sheen of the monumental to even the smallest and most intimate of dramas. This sheen is the absolute embodiment of the work of writer, Alan Garner, and is never … Continue reading Red Shift (Play For Today, 1978) – John Mackenzie (BFI).
This review contains minor plot details. When a body of work is inherently made up of intricately layered themes and hidden caches of ideas, surmising the work as a whole can be extremely difficult. This is never more prescient than in the BFI’s release of six films by French film writer and director, Alain Robbe-Grillet; a seemingly missing link in French cinema of the 1960s … Continue reading Alain Robbe- Grillet: Six Films, 1963-1974 (BFI).
In spite of working wearily outside of the French New Wave movement, Claude Sautet’s debut feature, Classe Tous Risques (1960), cannot help but evoke the cinematic environment bursting forth around it. While it may seem crass to spend time discussing more well known work in an article about a director whose work has been largely ignored outside of his national audience, it should also aim … Continue reading Classe Tous Risques (1960) – Claude Sautet (BFI)
From its opening declarations, John Akomfrah’s documentary on Stuart Hall, The Stuart Hall Project (2013) explicitly acknowledges that it is going to be condensing fifty years of complex history and ideology into its relatively short running time. Akomfrah achieves this in an unusual but extraordinary way by linking the ideas and history of the public intellectual with his passion for the music of Miles Davis. … Continue reading The Stuart Hall Project – John Akomfrah (BFI).
The notion of gothic is quite rightly taking over the BFI at the moment. Their gothic season is looking set to be its most all encompassing and vast seasonal retrospective for some time. The gothic tint has found its way into a number of avenues including its DVD range. The Flipside label always seemed fit for the sort of gothic releases still residing in the … Continue reading Schalcken The Painter – Leslie Megahey (BFI Flipside).
The BBC experienced a real golden age for television horror during the late 1960s and 1970s. Almost every year seems to have produced an array of horror delights, ranging from ghost stories of all types to full blown, psychological nightmares. Though now over half of the series is missing from the archives, 1972’s horror anthology Dead of Night and its surviving three episodes represent a … Continue reading BBC Dead of Night (1972) – BFI
This articles contains minor spoilers. Holding the record at the time for being the only play in the BBC Play For Today series to be repeated, James MacTaggart’s Robin Redbreast has an aptly cult aura surrounding it. First broadcast in the “spooky” slot (a December time tradition since Dickens’ era) in 1970, it manages to foreshadow a number of interesting movements in film and television … Continue reading Robin Redbreast – Play For Today (1970) – James MacTaggart (BFI).
M.R James’ ghost stories seem almost tailor-made for television and radio. They’ve taken on so many forms and guises over the years that, like their original forms read by the fireside at Christmas in Cambridge University, they have become a regular, traditional event. Though their presence has been somewhat thin on the ground of late (though soon to change with the fourth modern adaptation coming … Continue reading Classic Ghost Stories by M.R James with Robert Powell (BFI).