on 13 July 2011
I've banged on about this film for years much to people's blank expressions! A true rarity has finally got the official release it deserves. I'm pressing pre-order now, and cannot wait to replace my scratchy old 'copy' for this.
A true heartbreaking, sad and thought provoking film. This was emo before emo! If you've seen and enjoyed the recent British indie film The Scouting Book For Boys then you'll really love this.
The beatiful and radiant Jane Asher for the boys, and the sensitive, seemingly angelic John Moulder Brown for the girls. Plus a deeply unsettling cameo from Diana Dors!
The flipside of 60s London, this is the celluloid version of the morning after the swinging parties. As such it's probably a much truer reflection and time capsule of that life.
Brilliant score by Cat Stevens, the haunting 'I Might Die Tonight' will remain with you just as much as the images within this film.
on 17 August 2011
An outstanding restoration of an iconic film. I last saw this film in the 70s at the cinema and on TV a few years later. It has stood the test of time extremely well and does not appear in the least bit dated. The interviews with the principals are fascinating and add much to the enjoyment of the film. Technically the restoration is one of the best that I have seen. A generous package that is highly recommended.
on 6 August 2011
The 19th and latest entry into the BFI's celebrated 'Flipside' series, a collection exploring previously neglected British cinema and granting them the transfers and extras they deserve.
Deep End itself is possibly the most anticipated Flipside release so far, a critically acclaimed film that up to now has been very difficult to see, and even harder to find a decent home release of. This is a shame as this really is an excellent film, and hopefully it can now find a wider audience.
The film itself is directed by Polish filmaker Jerzy Skolimowski and was first released in 1970. Though it is technically a joint US-German film, with most of the film shot in Munich (though set in England), it is this English background, as well as the two leader actors, Jane Asher (looking absolutely stunning) and John Moulder-Brown, that categorise this as a 'British Film' and therefore worthy of entry to the BFI's Flipside collection.
Though it was filmed in Germany, watching the film it is not noticeable, and much of it is set in a public bath-house where 15-year old Mike (played by Moulder Brown) starts his first job after leaving school. This is where he meet Susan (played by Asher), who also works at the baths, and is older than him. The rest of the film follows Mike's increasing infatuation with Susan, building up to a shocking conclusion. This is an excellent film, and I found it hard not to feel some sympathy for Mike. Also, possibly because of the filming location, this feels a lot less like a film of its time, apart from a few posters and the age of the cars, I was surprised by how well it has aged. This certainly has an appeal outside of those with an interest in niche British cinema, and should be considered a British classic.
The BFI have given the film a new HD transfer, and it looks very impressive on Blu-ray, with vivid colours and a very sharp image, especially considering this film is now 40 years old. This is a dual Blu-ray/DVD edition, with the extras and film available on both discs. There is also a limited 3-disc edition with an interview with Asher and Moulder-Brown filmed onstage. There are also a generous set of extras, the best of which is a new, feature-length documentary called 'Starting Out: The Making of Jerzy Skolimowski's Deep End'. I found this as fascinating as the feature itself, with Asher and Moulder-Brown reunited for the first time since making the film. Skolimowski also appears in this documentary, which is both candid and informative. There's also deleted scenes and an original theatrical trailer. There's also another short 10-minute feature, 'Careless Love', a 1976 feature starring Jane Asher, which has a similar subject matter to Deep End. Finally, there is the customary booklet with essays about the film.
If you have even a passing interest in British cinema, I highly recommend this film, especially as the BFI have put together an exceptional set of extra features on this disc.
on 31 May 2011
Deep End is one of those `classic' films that had a limited circulation when it first came out, has been shown only rarely on TV and which has otherwise totally disappeared off the radar. I'm sure I remember first seeing it in 1969 in London, despite the 1971 release date credited elsewhere, and I've been waiting ever since for an opportunity to buy my own copy . The film is basically a story of a young man who suddenly discovers his sexuality and has a fixation on the slightly older woman who supervises him in his first job. Originally it was exciting to think that the `older woman' was Jane Asher - then the ex-girlfriend of Paul McCartney - and that she ended up naked at the end of the film. But! 40 years later we've hopefully moved on and we can accept the film for what it is - a `quirky' production that deserves any accolades that we can throw at it. With guest appearances by character actors such as Diana Dors and Burt Kwouk, it's well worth watching and I thoroughly recommend it.
on 31 March 2013
This gem from 1970 is a deeply evocative story of sexual tension from a variety of perspectives. That it is so redolent of late 60s /early 70s Britain is perhaps surprising since it was filmed in Germany by a Polish director! People of a certain age will identify with the sense of time and place and understand the boy's feelings, even if they find his actions extreme.The print is superb and brings out the director's fascination with the symbolic use of colour. Enjoy the way he contasts Asher's strawberry blonde hair against the green walls of the corridors and highlights the red painting of the walls behind Asher as the film starts to take a turn towards a dark outcome. There is much to enjoy in this film from an aesthetic point of view, even if some of the acting is a little stilted and mannered. Asher has never been better, though!
This 1970 film written and directed by Pole, Jerzy Skolimowski, is often categorised under the 'cult film' heading - not always a good thing, of course, but, despite being very much a film of its time (long-hand for 'dated'), its quirky take of unrequited love does have (for me, at least) a number of things going for it, not least its visual innovation. Skolimowski, who had moved to London prior to making Deep End, does not always capture the 'verbal feel' of 'late 60s swinging' London (with some notable stilted dialogue and acting turns here), but visually his film is particularly authentic and innovative, courtesy of Charly Steinberger's cinematography (with its interesting camera angles, dynamic close-ups, slow revolves and dream sequences), creating an aura not dissimilar to a whole range of iconic films of the era such as Blow-Up, Performance, If..., the early films of Roman Polanski (who was an early collaborator with Skolimowski) and (going back a few years ) Peeping Tom.
Skolimowski's central protagonists, the increasingly mutually obsessed, 15-year old school-leaver, 'pretty boy' and virgin, Mike (whose initial uncertainty in the role John Moulder-Brown gradually overcomes) and fellow swimming pool 'attendant', Jane Asher's more convincing red-head and sympathetic 'woman of the world, Susan, provide some nicely observed, tender moments, at times charged with tension of the more permissive attitudes of the time (one of the film's principal themes). Asher is particularly good as the confused target of Mike's affections, torn between her burgeoning interest in Mike and her more well-developed liaisons with wealthy fiancé Chris (Christopher Sandford) and Karl Michael Vogler's impressively creepy (and school-girl groping) married PE teacher. Elsewhere, Diana Dors puts in a brilliant cameo appearance as a 'man-eater' ('ladies of a certain age tend to favour polite and obliging young boys') whose seduction of Mike using 'football metaphors' and likening sex to 'Georgie Best's six goals against Northampton' is a film highlight for me. Other notable acting turns are provided by Karl Ludwig Lindt's authoritative swimming pool manager ('None of your guv in this establishment, it's always sir!'), whose visage is captured in an unsettling close-up at the start of the film, and from Susan's work 'sparring partner', Erica Beer's 'prim' cashier.
For me, other impressive sequences in Skolimowski's film are those in the seedy world of Soho, where Mike encounters a prostitute with her leg in plaster ('I used to take £5, now it's £2.50, of course'), then steals a strip-show cut-out looking like Susan, before confronting her on the tube (all to the 'exotic sounds' of Can on the soundtrack) and (in a scene similar to that in Taxi Driver) where Chris takes Susan to see the film The Science Of Sex, whose 'clinical shenanigans' are accompanied by The Ride of the Valkyries (on the film's soundtrack). And, although the film's quirkiness, (part) stilted acting and odd plot points make for a less than satisfactory whole, Skolimowski's denouement scene, between the two 'lovers' back at the swimming pool is simply brilliant, convincing me to rate the film as four, rather than three, stars.
on 24 July 2012
in many ways, this film is one of the finest of its kind ever made. that rare beast, it follows a character that is filmed entirely from his psychological perspective. He is young - so the scenes playfully caper around (when he is climbing all round the building during a conversation). And he is psychotic - so the narative is interupted with scewed and surreal scenes (melting ice to recover a diamond from overhead lamps, the constant purchasing of hotdogs, the lifesize cardboard cut-out becoming real). The main setting itself is a claustrophobic and decrepit leisure centre, that is peeling away at the corners. On such a low budget, and during a terrible dip in UK film industry - it is remarkable this film manages to tell the tale in such a coherent, entertaining and accomplished way at all, but what it does ultimately acheive is the polar opposite of what modern summer blockbusters do today(at 1000 times the cost). Whereas you leave the cinema from the latest superhero film and then instantly forget what you just saw a day later, this film Lingers. It haunts your mind. In the best way that so many innovative and creative films did during the seventies (picnic at hanging rock, the conversation, deerhunter...) And then theres Cat Stevens and Jane Asher...! .Supreme.
Deep End is so true to Life - for any teenage boy who becomes infatuated with an older (but young and sensual) woman who he then sees romantically with a chauvinistic and nasty man - he wants to 'save' her.
But where any of us ordinary young men would have long stopped their pursuance of justice, young Mike here takes things to the very end, fulfilling the dreams of us mere mortals. You know all along that he'll never get the girl, that's never in any doubt, but the madness as is pushes him further into trouble.
That Mike's (John Moulder-Brown) 15 and just out of school and his first boss is the gorgeous and sexually aware Jane Asher and his job entails attending to allsorts at some public baths, including some randy older women, no wonder his hormones are all over the place.
It all starts out as light-hearted nonsense (the incorrigible Diana Dors scene a real hoot) but gradually gets darker, to a jet black and tragic end. The ending is one of the most profound and well mounted that I've witnessed and every frame of it perfectly staged.
In between, we have the fumblings of a sexually naive lad, he who gets his first pay packet and it goes to his head, finding that the bright lights of a (pretend, film was shot in Munich) Soho turn his few pounds to mere pennies as he goes from club to club. But, all he's actually doing is stalking the girl that he works with, as he sees how her 'other', more glamorous life, away from the bleach and rubber gloves at the baths, is both lived - and funded.
True, John Moulder-Brown's acting lacks depth, or finesse, but imagine a 15 year old actually in those scenarios. He'd be even more blunt and less eloquent that Mike is in this.
As others have said, this is a true little gem of a film. How so much was actually said about human emotion in such a relatively short film is extraordinary. There were a few really good movies around at that time that covered similar-ish ground (Michael Powell's "Peeping Tom", for example) that weren't appreciated fully then, but seen perhaps as novelty voyeuristic films, only for the 'specialist' viewer. And, of course, thanks to the BFI for restoring it to a crystal-clear and beautiful print.
on 11 October 2012
I love the BFI series. Hidden gems, wierd forgotten mystery's, and mid-20th century oddities. It's great fun to pick up your movie pick and mix and see what happens. And that's what I did with Deep End. Never seen it ... never heard of it, but was impressed by the reviews and the chance to see a stunningly beautiful Jane Asher in all her I've-bagged-a-Beatle-beauty. So, first the film. It's compelling and highly involving, but I was frustrated by the dubbing. Unfortunately, during the editing/sound process something has clearly happened that required a complete overdub of the film. I found this a little offputting as the acting seems sensational, but it's as if a radio track was slapped over the top. Anyway, if you can get past this, the film is great, the story highly macabre, and the design, colour and production SENSATIONAL. Beyond the film itself, I found the massive 1hr 30m+ making-of documentary absolutely fascinating, and it made me appreciate the film even more. If you love film, like a bit of pot luck and a can put up with the dodgy sound dubbing, then go for this. I'm really looking forward to viewing the film for a second time having now seen the documentary extra.
on 17 August 2011
Back in the eighties a video store was having a clear out and I got a dozen or so tapes for next to nothing. Most were average and forgettable but not this one - Deep End made a deep and lasting impression on me. I remember it especially for the great 60s atmosphere. We cleared out all our old VHS tapes recently and this went out too so I was very glad to see it available on Amazon and pre-ordered it immediately. As it was around 30 years or so since I had last seen it I wondered if it would live up to my recollections - happy to say it did so completely. In fact even better than I remembered - an utterly memorising film from start to finish (and what a finish - I had forgotten how it ended!). Even better to have it restored and on Blu-Ray, it looks terrific and the extras are very interesting too. I did not realise this was an endangered film so very pleased it has been saved - I cannot think of a better candidate for the BFI treatment. Strange thing is that I do not ever recall seing this film on TV either in the sixties or any time subsequently. In my opinion this film is an original and unique gem, maybe not everyone's cup of tea, but if you like quirky films and the sixties you will love this. The performances are brilliant too and contribute largely to the freshness the film still has. A wonderful slice of the sixties.