Thursday, 22 November 2012

Requiem For A Village.

The modern world clashes with the past.

David Gladwell is probable best known for editing two films for Lindsay Anderson If (1968) and O Lucky Man (1973) and the only feature film he directed was the little known sci-fi movie Memoirs of a Survivor (1981) which starred Julie Christie and was based on a Doris Lessing novel of the same name. Most of his other work has been in the documentary field with the BFI releasing one of these as part of their Flipside series, which as you know is dedicated to making available British film titles that have never been obtainable on any home video format.

Requiem For A Village (1975), which Gladwell not only directed but also wrote, produced and edited, is a semi-documentary set in a Suffolk village and attempts to re-enact the lives of the people, their parents and their grandparents. This is cleverly done through the eyes and recollections of Vic Smith who now resides in a modern Milton Keynes type housing estate. Vic cycles to the village churchyard to tend to the graves and witnesses the resurrection of the old villagers of a century ago. Gladwell shows us the efforts of the modern day (1970’s) village community to stop further encroachment of contemporary housing estates and the subsequent infrastructure that goes along with it, juxtaposing this with the hard working lives of their ancestors.

This green and not so pleasant land!
The film more or less concludes with a scene that involves the rape of two women 100 years apart a brutal act that one assumes is meant to be a metaphor for the assault on this green and pleasant land. This semi factual film certainly shouts out loud its Englishness; it really could not be set anywhere else in the world, and its lust for the past ignoring the fact that people need affordable housing. Of course there are still English villages but these days their full of rich yuppies that can afford to commute to the nearest big city for employment.  

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