Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Alan Clarke

The bulk of my film-watching this weekend was spent revisiting Blue Underground’s 2004 Alan Clarke Collection, a taster for the BFI’s huge Dissent & Disruption box due in May. Watching both versions of Scum in close succession, I think the BBC version wins out. The theatrical version is more abrasive, more violent, but the BBC film feels more raw, the brutalization of the young cast is harrowing to watch. The moment where a cherub-faced red headed boy laments being incarcerated so far from home is genuinely heart-breaking stuff. One interesting departure from the BBC version is the theatrical version’s elimination of Carlin’s “missus”, which was a good choice - it’s the one false note struck in the BBC version I think… Seeing Elephant again, without the shock and awe of that initial first screening, I felt the film’s lack of political context was more problematic than I first realized. The film’s sincerity is never in doubt but I wonder did Alan Clarke and his collaborators worry that the set-pieces, which are as stylish as anything Scorsese has ever filmed, might fetishize the violence for certain audiences (and the same could be said for The Firm). Either way, the Blue Underground set is knife-edge film-making at its most astonishing, and I am tremendously excited for the BFI set...

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