How entertaining? ★★☆☆☆
Thought provoking? ★★☆☆☆
17 July 2011
This a movie review of REQUIEM FOR A VILLAGE.
The BFI Flipside is a great distribution label, unearthing some fascinating titles that have fallen out of mainstream consciousness. It appears to be a champion for the obscure and generally interesting. However, while I admire its unusual qualities, I did not find this 1975 experimental feature written and directed by David Gladwell particularly engaging. It reminds me a little of Robinson in Ruins (without the annoying narration).
Opening with various contemporaneous shots of a village, there is a mixture of the humdrum, with stylised slow-motion, which sometimes does look striking, e.g. chickens jumping as they are being fed. A priest addresses a community meeting and says he is a relative new-comer, only having been here for 20 years; which succinctly reveals the type of village we are viewing. The sound design in this meeting is attention-grabbing, as voices dip and sound effects take centre stage. This exploration of the minutiae is similar to György Pálfi’s Hukkle.
If there is a focus of the film, it is the graveyard caretaker, who cipher-like, is used to connect the present with the past. People come out of the graves before him. Are they hallucinations? Imaginings? Supernatual? He follows them into the church and gets younger. It seems like we are witnessing his wedding. He is remembering his earlier life. The catalyst for these visions and memories are likely the result of the village changing; as one person observes, it is an “ideal site for an extension”, and we see the ground being prepared on an industrial scale. This is juxtaposed with scenes of past idyll: blacksmiths, wheelwrights and harvesting. The occurrences near the end of sexual molestation come out of nowhere, and are of course jarring and disturbing, and here overly allegorical. At just over an hour it doesn’t out stay its welcome. Just.