Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Amelia and the Angel is a charming short film made in two weeks for less than a hundred pounds by Ken Russell. It was the second of three shorts he made in the late '50s that landed him a job on Monitor, the BBC arts programme where he would make his reputation. It tells the story of a young girl about to play an angel in her school nativity play who brings her angel wings home to show her mother. This turns out to be a mistake as almost immediately her brother runs off with them and soon they're damaged beyond repair. We then follow her journey through ramshackle post-war streets and buildings as she searches for a new pair in time for the play. Amelia was played by Mercedes Quadros, the daughter of an Argentinian diplomat. 'She was delightful, no trouble at all,' Russell recalled years later, 'as long as I gave her scary whirlwind rides in an old, broken-down Morris 8 I had she was as good as gold.' While it bears many of the hallmarks and themes of Russell's later work, his interest in Catholic imagery, his background in dance, it's not just a curio for film buffs, a rough draft of future talent that needs excuses made for it. It's genuinely delightful, with all the whimsical charm of a Victorian children's story, fresh with Russell's love of the outlandish, his eye for composition, every frame saturated with natural light and verite movement.
Amelia and the Angel 1
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
'I want formal enlightenment. I need the secret consequences of a jump-cut to be revealed to me. I want to know how the rawness of the camera angles or the grain of the film material figures into the emotional equation. I want to learn about acting from the performances, about atmosphere from the light and the locations. I'm ready, fully prepared to absorb truth at twenty-four frames per second.' - Jim Jarmusch, quoted in John Cassavetes: Lifeworks