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VINE VOICEon 6 June 2011
Having read a bit about Jane Arden and this film in particular I was not expecting a bundle of laughs. Surprisingly, however, there are a couple of scenes I found humorous such as the cabaret routine and the travellers' revels. On the whole, however, this is a film about serious mental ill health and, for me, it was tough going on occasion but I think that is the point. Arden uses the medium of film to convey the pain and suffering experienced by several very unwell women. What's going on in their heads is harrowingly conveyed through the use of sound and music (the cellist has a central role) ranging from ear piercing screams, accompanied by a discordant cacophony of instrumentation and sometimes strange bubble noises. The character's hallucinations and behavioural problems are deeply disturbing and obviously torment these women. The big red nose seems to be very menacing but also playful. Such is the ebb and flow of this film. As with some other forms of experimental film, this film is no less challenging whilst being entertaining. This film has no story to tell instead Arden forces upon the viewer a cinematic version of psychosis, warts and all. Not for the faint hearted.
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on 30 July 2012
It's 1972. Men rule the world. Women beat themselves up over it, emotionally and, occasionally, physically. It gets filmed, and the results ain't pretty.

The late Jane Arden's 'free' adaptation of her own play, itself a devised piece, positively reeks of pot, kaftans and feminist theory. It's by no means an easy watch (in an interview on the disc it's revealed that the actresses were all out of their collective gourds on acid during the central group therapy scenes and believe me it shows) and Arden herself was apparently Brahms and Liszt throughout the seemingly rather unhappy shoot. It's pretty exploitative stuff - think a hippy female version of Lars von Trier.

Admittedly at a rather gruelling and unstructured 1 hour and 46 mins it won't be everyone's cup of tea but if head shops, RD Laing and the Incredible String Band make you wake up and pay attention, this could be for you, man. Or more correctly, woman.
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VINE VOICEon 29 July 2009
Imagine if Sigmund Freud had gatecrashed a Gypsy wedding party where they were staging a performance of "Marat/Sade", and started up a discussion on hysteria, mental degradation and the Female Orgasm, and you kind of end up with what you'll see when you watch Jane Arden's "The Other Side Of The Underneath". The Holocaust women's theatre troupe (to which Arden belonged) were the first to stage her play "The Holocaust", from which the film is adapted from. Described by critic George Melly as "a most illuminating season in Hell", the movie depicts a nameless woman's descent into Schitzophrenia and the agonies and psychoanalysis that follows. However, from Arden's point of view the condition is caused by female sexual repression in society - the film depicts the protagonist undergoing rebirth as her personality fragments and finally implodes... as Arden was involved in the anti-psychiatry movement of the '60s, her scathing allegory is not altogether unsuprising.

The film excels in depictions of violent, sometimes symbolic brutality and the animal side of sexual release, which makes it not an altogether pleasant viewing experience. However, it is never short of powerful and compelling and never falls short of attempting to offend through its rejection of false icons (one wonders how the stiff-upper-lipped received it in 1972). The juxtaposition of bare breasts and crucifixion in the latter half was especially upsetting for some. It is never less than avant-garde and experimental, which obviously narrows it's potential audience somewhat. But, if you like your cinema to challenge, it's another Mother Lode from the BFI.

The extras include interviews with Sheila Allen and Natasha Morgan, extended sequences and as always a lavish booklet containing essays and aphorisms by Susan Croft, Sophie Mayer, Amy Simmons and Penny Slinger (If these names mean nothing to you, look them up). So, highly recommended if you are a cinematic masochist like myself; if not, rather stay away.
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on 9 May 2009
'The Other Side of the Underneath' (Jane Arden 1972) is the only 1970s British feature film with a solo female direction credit; very little else about it is ordinary either. It is a self-consciously radical work which breaks most of the rules of conventional narrative cinema in its exploration of madness and female pain; viewers will either be fascinated or repulsed. It was shot mainly in South Wales in and around the mining communities of Cwmtillery and Abertillery in the Ebbw Vale area (writer/director Jane Arden was born in nearby Pontypool). The setting undoubtedly adds to the power of the imagery and atmosphere of the film, as does the extraordinary soundtrack which is largely the work of cellist Sally Minford (now Sally Pullinger) and sound editor Robert Hargreaves. There really is no other soundtrack like this as, at times, individual notes or scrapings on the cello accompany particular words of dialogue. 'The Other Side of the Underneath' is an extreme work of what the writer Sarah Street calls the 'other' British cinema which has been running alongside the mainstream since the silent era. It is dark, haunting and, at times, shocking, and the British Film Institute deserve immense credit for making it available again - in an excellent package with a detailed booklet - after decades of neglect.
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VINE VOICEon 29 July 2009
Imagine if Sigmund Freud had gatecrashed a Gypsy wedding party where they were staging a performance of "Marat/Sade", and started up a discussion on hysteria, mental degradation and the Female Orgasm, and you kind of end up with what you'll see when you watch Jane Arden's "The Other Side Of The Underneath". The Holocaust women's theatre troupe (to which Arden belonged) were the first to stage her play "The Holocaust", from which the film is adapted from. Described by critic George Melly as "a most illuminating season in Hell", the movie depicts a nameless woman's descent into Schitzophrenia and the agonies and psychoanalysis that follows. However, from Arden's point of view the condition is caused by female sexual repression in society - the film depicts the protagonist undergoing rebirth as her personality fragments and finally implodes... as Arden was involved in the anti-psychiatry movement of the '60s, her scathing allegory is not altogether unsuprising.

The film excels in depictions of violent, sometimes symbolic brutality and the animal side of sexual release, which makes it not an altogether pleasant viewing experience. However, it is never short of powerful and compelling and never falls short of attempting to offend through its rejection of false icons (one wonders how the stiff-upper-lipped received it in 1972). The juxtaposition of bare breasts and crucifixion in the latter half was especially upsetting for some. It is never less than avant-garde and experimental, which obviously narrows it's potential audience somewhat. But, if you like your cinema to challenge, it's another Mother Lode from the BFI.

The extras include interviews with Sheila Allen and Natasha Morgan, extended sequences and as always a lavish booklet containing essays and aphorisms by Susan Croft, Sophie Mayer, Amy Simmons and Penny Slinger (If these names mean nothing to you, look them up). So, highly recommended if you are a cinematic masochist like myself; if not, rather stay away.
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on 15 April 2011
.. well I wanted to shout shutup a few times at the screen, had no idea what was going on, felt a bit guilty, thought about germaine greer, read the inlay notes, felt a bit more guilty for being a bit bored, but was reading american psycho for the first time and finished the day I watched this.

Very extreme cinema indeed. I was confused. Only go for this if you have an idea of what your going in for. Separation worked as a double with polanski's repulsion for me in some ways, this film is just woah ladies wow!! Hola-wha!?

and a bit like old dr.who sometimes.
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