Friday, 21 August 2009

A cinematic discovery (for me).

For many years (being a wee bit of a film buff), I've been aware of the reputation of the director Derek Jarman. Left of centre politically, homo-erotic, artistic and visionary, got right up the Thatcherite regime that used to run the country's nose. Sort of thing you'd imagine a right thinking, high Church leftist like moi would make a bee-line for. But up till now I hadn't had the pleasure. So, when I was offered the chance to attend the 1st showing of his re-mastered "War Requiem", I jumped at it. The music is Britten's piece of the same name and it all hangs round the war poetry of Wilfred Owen.

What a treat! The Britten was recorded and conducted by BB and with Peter Pears, so it was gloriously authentic. The poetry I know well from my O Grades in English and History. And the imagery was incredible, visceral at points (sheep being actually butchered is a bit strong) and certainly something of an 80's period piece with footage of the Falklands campaign and gallant brother mujaheddin in Afghanistan biffing the Bolsheviks. They'll be the ones we're trying to bomb in Helmland then? Footage of dead soldiers with brains hanging out mean it isn't really for the faint hearted or queasy. Stunningly shot, very powerful and breathtakingly clever.

The cast was startling: Laurence Olivier (who came out of retirement to appear in this, his last ever screen role), Tilda Swinton (shook hands with her at the showing), the fellah from the Inspector Lynley mysteries as Wilfred Owen and Sean Bean as a dead German. It was the sort of thing I should have watched at Uni 20 years ago and didn't. Glad I've finally caught up.

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