Privilege, The Squeeze and Private Road among highlights of EIFF After the Wave retrospective
10 June 2010
This article is from 2010.
OK film studies students, it’s time for a refresher on British New Wave cinema. Marked by an obsession with social realism and class, the New Wave lasted from 1959-1963, and had its roots in theatre and literature, most noticeably the plays and novels of John Osborne, Shelagh Delaney, Alan Sillitoe, John Braine, Stan Barstow and David Storey. Effectively running from a phenomenal adaptation of Braine’s Room at the Top in 1958 to Storey’s own adaptation of his novel This Sporting Life in 1963, the New Wave was a movement that nurtured and established the talents of great directors and actors — Tony Richardson, Karel Reisz, John Schlesinger, Albert Finney, Rita Tushingham, Tom Courtenay, Alan Bates, Rachel Roberts and Richard Harris among them. And then things went a bit mental.
This year’s EIFF retrospective is a reflection of just how gloriously mental things got. After the Wave goes in search of lost and forgotten British Films from 1967-79, a period that (similarly to recent times) stretched from a moment of apparent national wealth and security to complete economic meltdown in just twelve years.
It has taken programmer Niall Greig Fulton a year of hardcore detective work to line up this frankly bonkers selection of films, and his enthusiasm for the project has clearly not diminished.
‘Look at a film like Peter Watkins' Privilege - it foresees all the celebrity hysteria and media manipulation brought about by Simon Cowell and his ilk,’ he gushes. Barely stopping for breath, Fulton continues his advocacy: ‘Or The Squeeze, I refer to that film as the greatest British thriller ever made, it’s right up there with Get Carter and The Long Good Friday.’
Fulton finds modern relevance in all the films, for example Peter Cook’s 1970 political satire, The Rise and Rise of Michael Rimmer: ‘When that film came out prime ministers were not young men and it was seen as a complete flight of fancy, but how telling is it now in the aftermath of the recent election?’ Fulton also effuses about Barney Platt Mills’ long unavailable Private Road. ‘It’s like an Eric Rohmer film with typewriters, partly set in the Scottish Highlands.’ And Long Shot, a quirky and comic inside-the-movies fable set against the background of the 1977 EIFF (when it was based at Randolph Crescent).
With three films from the long dormant Children’s Film Foundation also showing as part of the retrospective, nostalgia and a certain kind of innocence will certainly be tempering the madness. ‘These films are so stylish, saucy, off beat and undervalued, I just want people to see them.’ Fulton laughs, slightly maniacally, it’s been a long journey of rediscovery for him.
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