Monday, May 6, 2013


I'm fast becoming a BFI doc geek. Bought their recent From the Sea to the Land Beyond while in London. It's a lyrical portrait of Britain's coastline, directed by Penny Woolcock, using the BFI's huge collection of archive footage and with music by British Sea Power. 
It starts and ends in Blackpool. Where else!? Interesting to see how far we've come. In black & white 1900 everyone is slim, dressed in suits, fancy dresses and parasols as they promenade along the front, or in 'decent' swimsuits as they paddle in the breakers. In colourful 2000 everyone is drunk, overweight, dressed in casualwear and a woman lifts up her top to reveal a size 44 bra. The wind and rain is so strong that people are being knocked over. (The latter is from Martin Parr's Think of England, the only film not from BFI).
In between we have more seaside jaunts, harbours full of trawlers, shipbuilding, two wars, rugged coastlines, seabirds and sealions, oil rigs and plenty more, all taken largely from government-produced films which were directed by the best film-makers of the day.  
But what really makes it is the music. British Sea Power were a good choice - and not just because of their name. They did the music for Robert O'Flaherty's 1934 film Man of Aran, and the music they've come up with here fits perfectly - very emotive, restrained when it needs to be, powerful at other times.

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