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Play for Today: Red Shift

December 7th, 2011 (01:34 pm)

I finally got round to seeing the Play for Today adaptation of Alan Garner's novel Red Shift last night, adapted by Garner himself, and directed by John Mackenzie. Pointedly describing itself as 'A Film by...' the writer and director, the production is nonetheless highly televisual in a 1970s sense, made up of tight screen-friendly portrait shots and (albeit on location) confined spaces which identify the psychological and psychical pressure its protagonists endure with the television itself. These make the sudden vistas of the rugged Cheshire/Staffordshire borderlands more surprising and more provocative, the uncertainties of time, place, self and other folded into a near-forgotten marcher land. I hope to write more about the play elsewhere, but in the meantime I have begun to re-read the novel.

Also posted at http://sir-guinglain.dreamwidth.org/468821.html.


Posted by: philmophlegm (philmophlegm)
Posted at: December 7th, 2011 07:45 pm (UTC)

God, I think I read that when I was about seven! What's it about?

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: December 7th, 2011 07:53 pm (UTC)

Three interlocked stories about love, sex, understanding, gender identity and religion: one concerning Tom and Jan, a young couple in 1970s Cheshire, another Macey, a young man with visonary powers kept as a trophy and a weapon by a fragment of the ninth legion in second century Roman Britain, and another the complex relationship between another visionary, Thomas Rowley, his wife Madge, her former lover Thomas Venables, and local thinker John Fowler, during the Royalist siege and subsequent massacre of the Puritan village of Bartholmley during the Civil War. Macey, Thomas Rowley and Tom all share each others' thoughts and feelings at particular moments.

Posted by: Polly (jane_somebody)
Posted at: December 20th, 2011 07:28 pm (UTC)

I did read it, but definitely significantly later than age 7, after The Weirdstone of Brisingamen/Moon of Gomrath and The Owl Service, which I read between about 8 and 10 at a guess, and found them understandable though in the case of the latter not getting all the nuances! For Red Shift I think I was probably 11 or 12ish, and I felt at the time that it was 'too adult' and that I wasn't really 'getting it'. Beyond that, though, I don't remember much (actually, the main thing I remember is being interested in the red shift phenomenon and looking up more about it), certainly not the details of PK's summary - which make it sound more interesting than I remember and makes me think maybe I should give it another go.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: December 20th, 2011 07:33 pm (UTC)

I intend to make time to watch the Play for Today version again, and read it more closely against the book - there are nuances which I had missed on reading the book which I first noticed in the film, but realise on revisiting the book were there all along.