Monday, 27 February 2012

First impressions

The 2012  Borderlines experience began for me on Friday 24th February with The Well-Digger's Daughter starring and directed by Daniel Auteuil. The lush setting of fields, streams and the tree lined country roads of the South of France forms the background to a familiar story of young love awakened, thwarted and finally reconciled.  The most convincing relationship, however, is not that between the lovers, but between father and daughter with some light relief provided by family friend, Felipe.  Small town prejudices are explored while the start of the First World War forms a wider backdrop, made evident by the mobilisation of the local men.

The studio at the Courtyard theatre was packed out for the first afternoon of the Festival while the bar area was too crowded to walk through!  Also filled to the rafters, was our second film Resistance which was being shown in Moccas Village Hall where numbers meant that cars had to be parked in a field and doors were shut at 7.30 regardless of anybody waiting outside.  The Village Hall bar was busy too and after showing a film about Arts Alive and Flicks in the Sticks and four very impressive short films made by "Same but Different" there was an interval to allow people to refill their glasses and to buy ice creams.
Resistance was of particular interest to a rural Herefordshire audience who could recognise pubs and cottages where the scenes were filmed - not to mention the familiar countryside of the Olchon Valley and Llantony.   Those who had not read the Owen Sheers novel may have found the plot difficult to follow, but the visual impact was striking and the slow pace gave the film an almost hypnotic, poetic quality.  The "what if" story of a German invasion of Britain in 1944 was intriguing and was illustrated by numerous flash-backs of, for example, the Russian Front. The characters of the women left to work the farms while their men joined the Resistance were very well drawn, while the central love story and the ending were left ambiguous - which some of the audience found disappointing.  A neighbour told me that he found the film unconvincing because the Germans were too nice while others mentioned that they found the pace of the film too slow.
Both of these films were set in rural areas where the scenery acted almost as one of the main protagonists.  My next Borderlines experience will be My week with Marilyn which should provide an interesting contrast!


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