Monday, 11 January 2021

Illuminate The Mind.

Schalcken The Painter.

Rewatched this beautiful BFI presentation of the  Schalcken The Painter. An adaption of the story by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu. This is a wonderfully crafted piece of work that stands up to much watching in that different aspects of this very disturbing tale of unearthly lusts and the cruel abstractions of art are married to Olde Worlde storytelling. If you are interested in art and its creation there is enough here for a viewer on that level. If you are a more swarthy individual who enjoys fireside wintery tales that send a chill down the spine then there is even more here for you.
             One of the BFI's finest and most treasured releases was its MR James collection. The jewel in the crown of supernatural storytelling and marks a series of landmark productions we rarely see the like off these days.It was probably a perfect storm of talent that brought these stories to fruition. The BBC's drama department was probably one of the greatest and unequalled talent pools ever assembled behind the camera. Schalcken sits with that boxed set as an equal. even feels like a missing story. Which is not to diminish the singular talent of LeFanu. It is more the affection and respect that one feels for the work of James that would lead me to compare the pair.
              The nights are fair drawin' in.
              Autumn is here and winter will follow.
             Squirrel this one away like some ghostly nut for a dark night in front of the television.
             The Dark Nut Returns. So to speak.

"ill founded"

The Belfast artist Jim Mc Kevitt did these three plates for me to accompany a script I have been writing called Ill Founded. About Belfast Ghost stories and urban myths. Was very pleased with their almost Germanic expressionist wood cut feel. Just to jazz the script up.

Alchemical Comic.

                                                              (From my sketch book.)

No High Church In The Wilde.

I finally managed to track down this BBC adaption (By playwright John Osborne.) of Wilde's vision of innocence corrupted and it quite probably the best version of the novel I have seen. It certainly boasts the best incarnation of Dorian Gray as portrayed by young Peter Firth, who is adept at exuding a wide eyed innocence of the "younger" Dorian and the calculating cruelty and indifference to suffering of the "older" Dorian. He really is a piece of work, the most confidant and complex portrayal of the character I remember seeing.
              It has been long said by many that the BBC are at their very best when producing period or historical drama and this production just about ticks all the quality boxes in that regard. Everyone involved was on top of their game. John Gielgud effortlessly bringing to life the most salty of wilde's epigrams while Jeremy Brett wrings an unspoken anguish from his portrayal of the gifted but doomed Basil Halwood. In fact for a drama where rich dialogue flows there is much left unsaid, words unspoken, with the unquiet heartache hanging in the air around the various characters like the thickest, if invisible, but spiritually tangible of pea soupers. Dorian's hold over those in his company is the cause of much anguish. he is at times like a Thyphoid Mary figure who strides through a crowd of beaming admirers, who tumble like stricken reeds in his wake.
             Peter Firth's performance as the angelic Dorian is whimsically endearing to begin with while his later turn as the wicked Dorian is hypnotically reptillian. The way he toys with the feelings of others is like watching a cat play with an injured mouse, inflicting spiteful pain before devouring, in all likelihood to spit it out. He is mesmerising.
              And off course, getting back to that theatrical force of nature, John Geilgud delivers Wildean dialogue as though it were just occurring to him. He makes it feel so real which is off course an illusion.
              A beautiful lie.
              There is nothing so unnatural as a witty aphorism.
              none are to be found in the wild.


Three Brothers.

"..Gave me a touch of the Karamazovs this one did."
Peter Ackroyd has written so extensively about the history of London you get a sense of a writer taking a walk down some familiar streets and guessing at what goes on behind the lace curtains. Not a dander round suburbia but a wayward ramble through the connected villages of London, so to speak. What would I know, being no perambulator myself much less a deep topographer of the living mind of a city as complex as The Great London.

76 Totter's Lane All Over.

                            ..Yep, Its a badly parked Tardis, as always. In a corner of my house.