Being a God isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
I looked for something appropriate to the solstice and came across this short film, Between Helinum and Flevum, by Martin Butler. I think it’s from the Netherlands. The Flevum is a delta of the Rhine, but what Helinum is I don’t know. Search engines are unaware of its existence and suggest “Helium” instead.
What if there were a clockwork family who lived in the house by the railroad from Edward Hopper’s painting? That’s the starting point for this odd and disturbing film.
Like Nosferatu, I have risen from the coffin, and I’m ready for some serious
One of the great British horror films, The Wicker Man, is finally being shown in its entirety today after Hollywood butchered it prior to release in 1973. According to Studio Briefing, a complete print of director Robin Hardy’s final version was discovered in the Harvard Film Archive.
I’ve seen The Wicker Man in incomplete versions a couple of times. It never fails to simultaneously evoke pity for Howie and huge exhilaration. Partly because life on Summerisle is an idyllic vision of people just getting along and enjoying life to the full. Unless, of course, your crops begin to fail and you have to turn to human sacrifice. Opposing their worldview is Constable Howie, a dour puritan, who would have burned pagans in another age. He achieves something his peculiar mindset might hold in high esteem – the chance to die as a martyr. I think that tension is what gives the film such resonance.
Unbelievably, or perhaps believably, the studio wanted a happy ending for Howie, with rain putting out the fire in the wicker man. A simplistic, Biblical Deus ex machina calculated to destroy the complex duality of the film. We must be thankful that Hardy refused to compromise its integrity.
There’s no doubt Howie is entrapped into investigating the disappearance of a young girl who never actually went missing, but the fool gets every chance to save himself. He only has to give in to Willow’s enchantment and lose his virginity. Here’s her song and it’s well-nigh irresistible.
As is Britt Ekland in the role of Willow, though she thought she had “an arse like a ski slope,” so they had to get her a bottom double for the nude scenes. This according to an illuminating article in the Guardian where Hardy and Gary Carpenter, musical director, talk about the making of the film.
I’m hoping our wee Picture House gets a copy for the First Monday program – good films that aren’t the usual Hollywood dreck, shown on the first Monday of every month. In the meantime, here’s the trailer. I’d take the 4 hour bus to journey to Glasgow, and 4 hours back, just to see this film again.
The Finishing Line is a British public information film, shown on television as a warning to children not to play on railway lines. Produced by British Transport Films in 1977, it’s a boy’s vision of what might happen if playing on the railway line were a school sports day, complete with teams, judges, and prizes. The predictable mayhem is amplified by the surreal spectacle of responsible adults orchestrating the events, while ambulance staff stretcher off the dead and wounded children. The change from excited competitiveness to stunned horror is reflected in the (surviving) children’s face.
This is a chilling film, so much so that it was replaced two years later by something less graphic, Robbie. Bear in mind that The Finishing Line was designed for children as a dreadful warning, so if your adult sensitivities flinch on seeing the film, then it was probably doing an effective job on the target audience. I thought the full film was not available online, but recently came across it on YouTube.