British cinema is obsessed with the effect of location upon the individual. In fact, it wouldn’t be so sweeping to suggest that large swaths of culture born on these isles stems from the idea that the individual can be deeply molded by their surroundings and any fictional drama from Albion will be bare the aesthetics of its areas as far more than a setting. While … Continue reading Fear And Loathing In The Countryside – Withnail And I (1987).
Propaganda has morphed today and is now constant and lurking. It has performed the most astonishing vanishing act and become acknowledged as fact. The conglomeration of aesthetic impulses known predominantly as “the media” seems to have taken over its role as information and leaned its ideologies through a process of diffusion into the very being of what is purporting to being a vaguely truthful recreation … Continue reading Foucault’s Heterotopia And The Dim Little Island (1948) – Humphrey Jennings.
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).
In last month’s issue of Sight & Sound (November, 2015) Nick James details his relationship with the cinema of Andrei Tarkovsky in line with the season of films he’s curated for the BFI. Though the article is chiefly surrounding Tarkovsky’s (vast) legacy, one aspect in particular caught my attention whilst reading. He refers to a scene from Tarkovsky’s 1975 film, Mirror, which partly accounted for … Continue reading The Breeze In The Grass – Elemental Realisation in Tarkovsky’s Mirror (1975).
The relationship between myth and ritual has been often debated within anthropology ever since its Victoriana days of enlightened scientific thinking through the prism of evolution and the birth of mechanisation and industrial blight. The idea of returning to the “primacy of ritual”, where whole belief systems stem as a result from repeated actions or events, is a common theme of exploration in Folk Horror as … Continue reading Ritual And Identity in Penda’s Fen (1974) – Alan Clarke.
Above is the trailer for my last film of the year, Salthouse Marshes. Continuing on from last year’s theme in a trend I hope to continue with on a yearly basis, the film is a short, landscape obsessed ghost story. With the BBC seeming reluctant to bother with a ghost story for Christmas any more, it feels necessary to in some way plug the gap … Continue reading Trailer – Salthouse Marshes.
Nature is always present or at the very least contrasted against something in Gideon Koppel’s nostalgia portrait, Sleep Furiously (2008). In spite of the film being a very clear ethnographic postcard from the director’s past, having lived previously in the Welsh town of Trefeurig, it manages to underline its gentle portraiture with a sense of pervading nature and landscape; where even the most concrete of … Continue reading Emerson’s Nature and Sleep Furiously (2008) – Gideon Koppel.
More so than his relationship with painting, film, drugs or threesomes, Donald Cammell’s life and work seems to have been directly linked with mirrors. While all of the former aspects played huge roles and allowed access to knowledge of his obsessions in the first place through his work, it is the mirror and its hidden powers that seem to haunt Cammell as an artist and … Continue reading Mirrors, Donald Cammell and Jorge Luis Borges.
Few films are as explicit in their depiction of character relationships that are at the mercy of the fluctuating landscape than Roman Polanski’s 1966 film, Cul-De-Sac. Polanski had been to both ends of the environmental spectrum within his previous two films – the open waters of Knife In The Water (1962) and the cramped, claustrophobic London of Repulsion (1965) – and Cul-De-Sac sees him returning … Continue reading Isolation And Madness In Cul-De-Sac (1966) – Roman Polanski.
Part 1. Part 2. Herostratus (1967) Expanding upon the ideas of screaming in The Shout, the analysis of Francis Bacon’s influence on counterculture British cinema can conclude with Don Levy’s 1967 film Herostratus. The film and its obsessions with textures and urban landscapes has already been discussed in other articles but Herostratus is full of other forms of terrain; the morphed and emotionally tortured form … Continue reading Cinematic Identity Crises And Francis Bacon – Part 3 (Herostratus).