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  • This was my shot-in-the-dark purchase at the Leeds International Film Festival. From what I read on the synopsis, it sounded like a documentary. But it was more like a feature film using lots of unseen archive footage.

    It's only 1hr 18mins long and it was fascinating watching lots of old footage of various British activities such as farming, celebrating some of more obscure hobbies or festivals such as Morris dancing, maypole, the famous cheese roll at Coopers Hill. But was most fascinating, was the directors presentation.

    To me, it felt like the director was showing the different sides of British society through the ages with religious tones told in a way similar to a fever dream. Seeing it done in that way makes me think that this director needs to collaborate with Darren Aronofsky in future projects as the aggressive nature to this reminded of things like 'Requiem For A Dream' and 'Mother!'.

    But I think the main theme was showing how our society has treated are landscape and rural areas over time, which was book-ended by a character witnessing all of this from afar.

    Whilst showing signs of some of Aronofsky's previous works, it also reminded of a film called Baraka that is a collection of clips showing human life and religion around the world.

    While that was a more impressive presentation, this was still a enjoyable yet unique experience. I liked it's almost haunting way of showing its images with the accompanying score. It was presented in an almost aggressive manner, which could put people off as the director seems to be shoving his message down our threats.
  • Director Paul Wright billed Arcadia as a sensory journey into the beauty and brutality, magic and madness of the changing relationship with land and each other.

    I just thought it was a load of archive clips both black and white and in colour put together in a fluid way without much narrative.

    That is not to say that some of the clips are without interest but there is not enough to sustain a feature film and including some nudity is not going to reignite the viewer's attention.

    The music accompanying the clips gives it both a trippy and eerie feeling and is certainly a plus point.
  • British film-maker Paul Wright curates a trippy montage of archive clips, Pathe newsreel footage, and what looks like real-life folk horror paganism, to explore the changing relationship the British have with their land. A lot of the folk traditions seen in this non linear movie are still carried out to this day in parts of the British Isles. The hypnotic score is by Adrian Utley of Portishead, and Will Gregory of Goldfrapp and plays alongside folk music from the likes of Anne Briggs.
  • I've no real idea what they were trying to achieve or how the claimed themes of land and countryside were held together. It's more like a supermarket trolley dash through the wealth of Bfi and other archives, grabbing whatever caught their attention and throwing it in. Then at the end of the dash, you look at your pile of loot and realise that the tins of sardines, boxes of pan scourers, replacement mop heads and whatever else are not really a memorable prize , but you still have to smile for the cameras and take them home.

    Among the chaos, there also seems to be a bizarre fixation on grainy old black and white nudist clips, which keep re-emerging at several points during the film - to coin an old family saying "once a joke, twice a cabbage".

    So despite the inclusion of several fascinating short clips, they hang in isolation, truncated from any context and with no thread linking them into a commentary. Which means these archives are still ripe for another attempt, hopefully one with a bit of structure and coherent planning for whatever direction it may choose to follow.
  • Watching this late at night on my own is a slightly disturbing experience but the film has an elegaic charm (or magic) of its own with its music and subdued voice track.. It addresses man's ancient connection with the earth through custom and ritual and how that could be destroyed by modern life. The customs and rituals aren't always pretty or easy to contemplate - more Frazer's GOLDEN BOUGH than Thomson's LARK RISE TO CANDLEFORD. It reminded me a little of a book ny George Mackay Brown - GREENVOE - in its intertwining of the past and the present through ancient rituals. I've seen another work by this director - FOR THOSE IN PERIL - and I admire his poetic sensibility.