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Customer Review

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a great trilogy on a perennial subject, 26 Nov. 2013
This review is from: Bill Douglas Trilogy [DVD + Blu-ray] (DVD)
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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