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!)

Monday, June 16, 2008

Templars Announce Reunion Tour of France

No updates for a while, as I've been busy with my two film projects, Folie à Deux and Lanterna Magicka. Plus I've also just come back from la belle France - belle that is, apart from their appalling non-vegetarian friendly cuisine and smug, lying waiters - where I have been appearing in a new documentary that will air on Channel 5 in September. Secrets of the Cross will be a four episode series, featuring programmes on Mary Magdalene, the so-called 'Jesus Tomb' in Jerusalem, Pontius Pilate and our old friends the Knights Templar. This is the one I will be in, and sees me holding forth in such belle locations as Troyes, Chinon and La Rochelle. It was a great trip, made all the more so by the fact that we were allowed into the dungeons at Chinon to see the mysterious carvings made my imprisoned Templars in 1308. Very strange indeed - they're either the C14th equivalent of naive art, or they're something esoteric; definitely not standard Christian iconography. (Chinon, incidentally, is Rabelais' hometown, what he called his 'old cow country'.)

My next book, the one after New Waves in Cinema, which I am still working on when the Man from Porlock is not hammering at the door with more trivial merde to distract me, is going to be on the Templars' chums, the Teutonic Knights. I hope this will be an excuse to get some nice pagan illustrations in the book - the TKs crusaded against pagans in the Baltic - preferrably either from Marketa Lazarova or the pagan episode of Andrei Rublev.