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4.8 out of 5 stars19
4.8 out of 5 stars
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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.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 27 May 2012
This autobiographical trilogy is a piece of masterful film-making. Set at the end of the 2nd world war it depicts the evolving life of young boy who lives in a Scottish mining community. The boys life is a tale of rejection and alienation, as he lives with various members of his family. The back of the DVD says this is not a depressing set of films, or words to that effect, but I'm afraid I did find them quite depressing, and any prospective purchasers need to be aware of this. An action blockbuster this is not!

The films themselves were shot of a period of years using the same actors, so the boy grows through the 3 films. They are quite short. The first two are under an hour each and the 3rd is 72mins.

Having said that the movies are depressing, to counter-balance that, the acting is first class, some of the cinematography is beautiful and there is a poetic quality to the whole trilogy that you would never see in a contemporary mainstream movie.
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 26 November 2013
Philip French is quoted on the box as saying: "I believe this trilogy will come to be regarded not just as a milestone, but as one of the heroic achievements of the British cinema." It's an endorsement that seems fully justified when you watch this tryptich - it shows the intensity of a painter's eye - totalling nearly three hours (making each film actually quite short). Coming-of-age films are rarely as gritty as this one, but what is even rarer is its visual poetry that creates such a density of image. The black and white pictures really do tell the story of young Jamie's life, and get the feel of it in a piecemeal, slightly dislocated way, but with great power. It is closest to Vigo, I think, as another reviewer has said, turning the ordinary into something unforgettable. There is also something of Bresson in how much meaning he can get into a door opening, or the bleakest domestic scene, which is more austere than Vigo. You often feel intensely sorry for Jamie, at which point he is often held in the frame in all his helplessness. The actor, Stephen Archibald, gets older in successive films, going from about ten to sixteen. He has a forlorn look that evokes as much pathos as Antoine Doinel in Les 400 Coups, in fact his reticence and sad expression are heartbreaking, and he seems less of a survivor. The friend he meets in the airforce seems to have an intimate connection to him and a concern that verge on love, very touchingly after following his travails through so many episodes and so much unkindness. But potential viewers shouldn't be put off by the bleakness, because it is transcended by the cinematic art in a way few films manage to this marvellous degree. The second disc includes a short interview with Douglas, a documentary about his life, and a short film called Come Dancing that does have a quite explicit gay aspect, especially when you consider it was made in Britain in 1970, thereby preceding Sunday Bloody Sunday by a year.
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on 10 February 2010
The most affecting series of films you are ever likely to see. A window into a life that is both harrowing and uplifting. There is a sense of hope just under the surface, however, the surface is pitted, scarred and almost impenetrable.

A must have for everyone, film buff or otherwise.
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on 15 November 2009
Had the first two of the trilogy on tape many years ago and decided to treat myself to the DVD. It is a very dark film about two young boys growing up in a Scottish mining village - the boys have different fathers who rarely take an interest in them and a mother who is in a mental hospital. Not for the faint hearted ! It is so well portrayed and you feel every emotion with them - give it a go.
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 16 February 2015
Seen as some of the best depictions of childhood ever recorded on camera; these three films from Bill Douglas are both time capsules and sad reminders of how tough it was and can be growing up poor. These are autobiographical films and the first `My Childhood' was made in 1972 with Stephen Archibald playing the main character `Jamie'. It is set in a blasted landscape in a Scottish coal mining community just at the tail end of World War II.

Jamie is being brought up by his grandmother along with his older half brother Tommy. It is utterly devastating what the children go through all to a seemingly indifferent world.

The second `My Ain Folk' was made the following year and picks up where the first ended with Jamie ending up in a council run care home. It shows him trying to adjust and yet at all time being alone, even when he is surrounded by others. This is probably one of the bleakest of the three films in that this depicts the very people who Jamie should rely on to support and care for him and all are found wanting.

The final part is `My Way Home and was made five years later in 1978, in fact Bill Douglas waited until Stephen Archibald was old enough to be able to play his army role. This is a sort of redemption and features his adolescence and all the anomie that would normally afflict any teenager at that time being expanded by the exterior influences he faces.

These are devastatingly dark films, all shot in brilliant black and white with dirt you can almost feel under your nails and the smells seem to cloy at you from the screen. For me there was a lot of resonance with my childhood, though nowhere near as bleak, so for me it was not an easy watch - especially the violence. It is a testament to the human spirit that he could have gone through so much and ended up such a talented and gifted individual.
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on 17 November 2008
I suppose this doesn't really count as a review but for me the release of these films on DVDs is extra special. My grandmother plays the paternal grandmother in the first two films and, as she died when I was one, the films she made are the only way of seeing her. I have these on video so was delighted to find them on DVD. They are stark, gloomy films but a good portrayal of a time gone by.
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on 21 August 2015
Some people have said that the first film in the trilogy is not a true depiction and that it is too bleak. These are people who never lived in poor areas in the 50s or just didn't want to see. For once here is a film that shows the human misery of poverty, not in third world countries, but as it was then in Britain for the poor - not the unemployed but the working people who were paid such a pittance and for such long hours and hard work. I found this film touching but with no sentimentality. The other two are good but do not have the same impact of the first. The storyline of the later films is more optimistic than the reality for the two boys who both died young.
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on 3 November 2010
Unknown in France, the work of Bill Douglas is really exceptional. I tend to make a comparison with our french director Jean Vigo. Poetic, urgent, somewhat violent, so near to the wounds of the poor. A very personnal style. You really can tell this is Bill Douglas's work. To be recommended.
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on 10 October 2010
Another of those experiences where you immediately sit up and notice you are watching something special. I had never heard of Bill Douglas, but the title caught my eye when I was browsing through a video library last week. I'm glad I signed it out.

I was reminded of some of Bergmans almost silent shots of still figures in a cold landscape. A work of art.

I look forward to seeing Comrades.

Enthusiast, Ireland.
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