Friday, June 27, 2008

Ernest Scribbler Strikes Again

No, it's not the Funniest Joke in the World, but rather a just-published piece of writing that I've done for the BFI release of Bill Douglas Trilogy [1972]

These films were made between 1972 and 1978, and are amongst the best - and most underrated - British films ever made. Bill is the great forgotten poet of British cinema, a cinema that sadly seems embarrassed by poetry and films in which there is a complete lack of sentiment, a refusal to pander to dumb Hollywood narratives or TV platitudes. In short, these films are at times painful to watch - but also remarkably tender at the same time. Bill has been compared to such European masters as Bresson and Dreyer, but for me, he is the cinematic equivalent of Ted Hughes. These films, like Ted's poetry, have an overwhelming physical force that is almost completely unique; there is certainly almost nothing to compare it with in British cinema (Terence Davies is the name that crops up most, although I think TD's films are very different.)

The BFI have done a great job: great transfers of the three films, plus some good extras. And the booklet features newly commissioned essays, including a brief one by myself (on Stephen Archibald, Jamie from the Trilogy, who had, if anything, an even worse life than Bill did himself).

Do yourself a huge, poetic favour and buy a copy from the link below. Films really don't get any better than these. (Well, not forgetting Bill's final film, Comrades!)

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