I went along to the Watershed this afternoon to see Paul Wright’s “Arcadia” – a study of Britain’s shifting (and contradictory) relationship with the land through 100 years of footage from the British Film Institute’s National Archive. Although I didn’t have huge expectations for the film, it proved to be a mesmerising array of material.
Watching the film, one is VERY aware that this could ONLY
be Britain – Morris dancing, fox hunting, horses and hounds, privilege and
class, rich and poor, eccentricity, naturism (there were a LOT of people
dancing around in the nude!), folk festivals, racism and even paganism… you get
the general idea.
The film began with a series of black and white chocolate
box images (plough fields, scenic villages, children dancing around the Maypole
and the like)(Brexiteers would hail it as their model for the Britain of the
future!), but soon moved on to encompass so many different aspects of rural
Britain – the beauty, brutality, conflict, magic and madness – and, in
particular, how we as a nation seemed to have largely lost our connection with
nature and turned our backs on the environment.
It’s really very much a montage of archive clips - accompanied
by some rather wonderful music from Anne Briggs, Adrian Utley (Portishead) and
Will Gregory (Goldfrapp). But, actually, it’s much more than that – I found it
quite compelling (and somewhat sobering).
I need to see it
abide with me
4 months ago