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Unforgettabe Masterpieces Finally on DVD
on 18 June 2008
Bill Douglas (1934-91) only made 4 films in his career, and the Trilogy forms the core of his oeuvre. Based on his own upbringing in dire poverty in a mining village just outside Edinburgh in the 1940s and 50s, they do not make for easy viewing. But kitchen sink realism a la Loach and Leigh they are not: these are poetic films, and can stand with the best of world cinema. Filtered through Douglas's memory, they are unsentimental, at times bleak and brutal, but always compassionate; rather than narratives, they are more like poems. Poetic cinema is rare enough in Britain, which seems to be embarrassed by such things, and these three films are powerful enough to be remembered by the body as much as the memory. Bill Douglas had a unique vision, and the Trilogy, once seen, will stay with you for A very long time, and can stand up to repeated viewings, each time giving you something new. They are almost totally unique in British cinema, but rather than lament, we should give thanks that at least Douglas managed to make 4 films - all masterpieces (the other being the 3 hour epic Comrades).
The transfers appear to be very good, and the booklet contains a number of essays about the films. Disc Two contains Douglas's London Film School graduation film, Come Dancing, in which his mature style was first evident, as well as a short interview about the Trilogy from 1980, and Andy Kimpton-Nye's 2006 documentary about Douglas's life and work.
I can't recommend these films higly enough. Bill Douglas is a forgotten genius of British cinema, and let's hope this excellent release does something to bring him back to some kind of visibility.