Tuesday, 26 August 2008

One film I had problems with: The Book of Revelation. A young male dancer finding his feet again after being abducted and sexually abused by three women. Perhaps the director dwelt too much on the scenes of abuse, which were in effect flashback. They slowed down the story, his struggle to deal with what has happened to him and get back to work again. But then they were real enough to him. A difficult story and a difficult film. I had problems in that it didn't quite fit together, yet it is an immensely powerful and immediate story, one that deals with difficult and painful issues. The treatment doesn't quite seem to get it right.

No problem with the Bill Douglas trilogy. First off, how well scripted: someone who learnt from those who grew up in the silent era, who knew how to make visual films. Dialogue is very much secondary to the moving image, and there's little enough of it. There are great gaps in the story telling: Jamie runs away and is rejected even by his relatives in the bleak Scottish town. What is he going to do now? The desert from a moving truck. Palm trees waver by. A hesitating dialogue: 'Wha's yur name?' Slowly we realise he's joined the forces. The suddenness of a new life.

The story is autobiographical and heavy: the children brought up by a grandmother who dies, whose mother is insane and whose fathers don't care. Jamie becomes increasingly an outsider, a miss-fit, emotionally blank. Friendship with a young serviceman in Egypt slowly brings him back to being a human being, with interests beyond survival. Made in 1972 -8, dealing with the early 50s. The trilogy begins in 1945.

The Scottish background was partly familiar: my grandparents were not that poor, but the cast-iron hearth with the oven to the left, the doors with latches, and made from vertical lengths of wood, were very familiar.

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