Penda's Fen (Clarke, 1974) & Gone To Earth (Powell & Pressburger, 1950):
Roxy Bar and Screen, London Bridge, 7pm
This is screening as part of Scala Beyond, a six-week season
celebrating all forms of cinema exhibition across the UK, from film
clubs to film festivals, picture palaces to pop-up venues. You can find
more details here at the website.
An excellent FilmBar 70 double-bill titled Blasted Heaths: Magical Landscapes in British film.
Here is the introduction: The British rugged rural landscape has proven to be a powerful and
transcendental source of inspiration for our homegrown filmmakers.
Bleak, barren and beautiful, our climes exude a twilight reality where
social realism and the magical can co-exist. From the windy isolation of
the Devonshire coast in ‘The Shout’ (1978) to the wild and rocky
Shetland Isles of ‘The Edge of the World’ (1937), to the limbo of our
borders in films such as ‘Tam Lin’ (1969), Filmbar70 will provide a
celluloid escape to the country.
Time Out review of Penda's Fen (the magazine voted the film No76 in their top 100 British films list here):
This remarkable feature length television film – commissioned for the
legendary 1970s ‘Play for Today’ single drama series – is often
described as a step ‘off piste’ for its director Alan Clarke. That’s a
misleading reading, however. The work’s qualities of resistance,
questioning and personal and public transformation are entirely in
keeping with the normally urban-centric filmmaker’s milieu. But the real
credit lies with its writer David Rudkin. An astonishing playwright
with a visionary reach and a genuine sense of ‘deep England’ and its
radical potential, Rudkin here crafts a multi-layered reading of
contemporary society and its personal, social, sexual, psychic and
metaphysical fault lines. Fusing Elgar’s ‘Dream of Gerontius’ with a
heightened socialism of vibrantly localist empathy, and pagan belief
systems with pre-Norman histories and a seriously committed – and
prescient – ecological awareness, ‘Penda’s Fen’ is a unique and
important statement, rumoured soon – finally – to be available on DVD
Here's a pretty terrifying extract.
Time Out review of Gone To Earth:
'A film much maligned in its time, not least by producer David O Selznick, who issued an American version retitled The Wild Heart,
incorporating additional footage directed by Rouben Mamoulian and
running only 82 minutes. Mary Webb's 1917 novel was the archetypal
bodice-ripper - wicked squire, pious yokels, adultery and redemption -
out of which Powell and Pressburger made a visually spellbinding
romance. Christopher Challis'
photography evokes Shropshire and the Welsh borders so that you can
smell the earth. Menace, the bloodlust of the chase (of the fox or the
outcast sinner), is omnipresent as trees bend and wild creatures panic
before an unseen primal force. Cruelty besides beauty sweeps these
pastoral vistas. Forget Jones' rustic English (Kentucky? Australian?)
and the melodramatic clichés (boots trampling posies): the haunting,
dreamlike consistency recalls that other fairy story of innocence and
menace, The Night of the Hunter. '
Here is an extract.