Monday, 24 February 2014

Exorcising The Exorcist

I have always enjoyed the thrill of a good horror story, the safety net of the preposterous, entwined with absurd everyday occurrences. They are the best. The Psychological dramas that hint at the supernatural and then in the last act declare it was all in the mind to me, feel like a cheap trick.

As far as I am aware The Exorcist started life as a novel, was turned into a notorious film which caused decades long revulsion and now is a two part radio drama on BBC radio 4. This feels like event radio, a special time slot allocated late into the night, discretionary warnings, a cracking soundscape and the ominous subject matter add up to a sign saying “You have been warned and may not survive the show – The Management”. After the first episode I felt the radio version was a harder ride in the theatre of my mind, leaving the memory of the film feeling like a hideous, slapstick cartoon.

I first saw the film back in the late eighties. The way I remember it, Bletchley Cinema had a midnight double bill showing of Exorcist 1 & 2, I remember coming out of there feeling a bit nauseous and blaming the small tub of mint ice cream I had eaten inside. The films, the first one at least, had succeeded in scaring the life out of me while the second instalment was more like light entertainment. Waiting for us outside the cinema was a small group of placard bearers handing out leaflets in the polite manner of English people protesting back in the eighties would do. Rather than feeling united in Christian Love, this small demonstration added to the feeling that maybe demons do exist and possession is possible. It added to the legend for about 30 seconds as I passed on by, and then the reality of a 2 mile walk home at 2am in the morning kicked in.

P.S. Here is the original scan of the pen, brushpen and watercolour sketch I did, slightly smaller than a sheet of A4 paper and then textures and adjustments 'Photoshopped' over the top.

Friday, 7 February 2014

I'm Watching the iPlayer...

The Three Musketeers

I can’t lie, I like The Three Musketeers (Sunday 9pm on the BBC) at the moment. The costumes and the sets look visually fantastic with cinematic grade photography and lighting, it also has a good looking cast (which, in my opinion would benefit tenfold from the inclusion of louche, seventies man Matt Berry riffing off Oliver Reed who in turn had great form with the Musketeers).

It has its problems though. No one sets out to write mediocre scripts, yet there they are. It shares a lot of problems inherent with shows like Merlin, Atlantis, Sherlock and even Dr Who. There is no story any more, just a series of ‘epic’ events happening under the shows title umbrella. I'm not an academic or even that knowledgeably about the intricate workings of bringing a prime time show to the TV, but like Politics, Banks and the Police Force I have enough vested interest and history in the way these things work and involve me to actually give a damn. And like Politics, Banks and the Police at the moment, the problems they exude have now affected the Majority, which is why this 'unrest' in culture is happening. If the Minority were in the minority then you wouldn't be feeling that pressure in your emotional heart (to the left just above your stomach) at this moment in time.

Nothing changes in these event shows, characters come to stage fully formed, poking a stick in the eye of storytelling. They do their ‘epic’ thing then take their bow and leave. It's not enough to drive these vehicles with a promise that in seven season’s time there will be an answer. We're in it for the long haul, for seven series sometimes in which there might have been something that happened that was memorable. But in the meantime we are left with magazine telly, pretty layouts, short succinct paragraphs and a desire for something a little bit meatier in the next episode.

P.S. The language thing, they are French Men, in France, doing French things. It's the way Dumas wrote it. The well mannered London accents that most of the characters sport kill the atmosphere. I am almost thinking it would work better with Gallic dubbing and English subtitles.