Monday, 20 June 2016

A Journey To Avebury

Today marks the 2016 Summer solstice and I expect folks will be gathering at Stonehenge and Avebury for pagan celebrations. And with that in mind, I put 10mins aside earlier to revisit Derek Jarman’s 1971 short film A Journey To Avebury which consists of static shots of the Wiltshire landscape in all its summer finery - picturesque meadows, gentle country lanes and finally those iconic standing stones. This version found on youtube, comes with a late-90’s era soundtrack by Coil, not a vital piece by any means but pleasant and unobtrusive for the purists who insist on experiencing the film silent as originally produced. What’s immediately striking about Jarman’s film is strange and unnatural color of the images which seem to be bathed in a sulfuric hue. I’m not sure if this effect was achieved by a filter or if the color was a idiosyncrasy of the Super8 film stock but it lends the film an otherworldliness that is most pleasing. Seeing the stones under such alien skies reminds me of the photograph taken at the Viking 1 lander site on Mars in 1978, depicting a large boulder which scientists christened Big Joe. Incidentally Jarman’s film includes a shot of some children cheerfully lazing about, and it’s a happy coincidence that at the weekend I was nosing around the 1976 TV serial Children of the Stones (my interest piqued by Simon Reynolds’ liner notes for the compilation In A Moment…Ghost Box, which I’ve been listening to these past few days). Watching some clips online I’m almost sure I’ve seen Children of the Stones when I was a youngster (considering HTV was beamed into Irish homes throughout the 80’s), but to seal the deal I shall pick up the Network DVD…

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