And its not so very short so it's a very strong contender for the greatest British film. Yes I know it's up against Michael Powell, and Carol Reed and Lean's Great Expectations and Oliver Twist but they do all seem a bit dated now and this doesn't, nor will it. Moreover against Powell and Reid it has the advantage of the subject matter.
Of course it's always been a heresy in the aesthetics of modern art to give weight to the subject matter, but I don't care. I resent having to waste admiration on some brilliant treatment of distasteful, trivial, marginal, or soon just part of history, subject matter. And to hell with film history. Lets just take the subject matter seriously into account for once as well as the treatment - because, don't misunderstand me, the treatment here is every bit in the 'arthouse' style. Russell could do it when he wanted to.
To tell the truth the only reason I don't make the outright claim for this being the best British film (despite it being made for television on a small budget in case you didn't know) is that I make that claim for Russell's 'The Music Lovers' a film on the same sort of subject but in an entirely different style. Whereas this is naturalistic the Tchaikovsky film is expressionistic and stylised in a way not very far removed from Powell's work.
This is of course a film about a great composer and his music, and for that reason, as the music combines with the lyrical/naturalistic texture of the film itself, there is more than usual reason to return to it for further viewings.