The great pioneer film director D. W. Griffith believed that film was the universal language promised in the Bible that would herald the Second Coming; and so it must have seemed in the glory days of the silent era. In the first 20 years of the last century, film swept the world, effortlessly crossing barriers of class, race and nation. A measure of the speed of this revolution was that scarcely five years after his arrival in Hollywood, Chaplin was the most famous man in the world, and probably the highest paid.
In The Lost Girl, D. H. Lawrence describes Nottingham miners watching those early films: while they looked at the live music hall acts out of the corners of their eyes, embarrassed, uneasy, they stared at the movies, unblinking, mouths agape, like men in a trance, mesmerized.
The power of film lies in its links to the unconscious, its closeness to the condition of dreaming. In my dreaming youth, like so many others, I was as entranced as those miners, coming to believe that film was the ultimate art form, that it could include everything and everybody, reconnect us to all that had been taken from us. I was born in a faceless, mindless London suburb amongst people who had lost their way in the world, who had forgotten who they were, and had fallen from grace.
In the Arthurian legend, the Grail was lost because men had sinned against nature. The world became a wasteland. The Fisher King’s wound would not heal. Only by finding the Grail could wholeness, harmony and oneness be restored, and the King be healed, and grace restored.
I have sought that lost grace in the filmmaking process, where the material things of the world—money, buildings, sets, plastic, metal, people—disappear into a camera and become nothing but light and shadow flickering on a wall: matter into spirit, the alchemists would say. Memories are even more shadowy and insubstantial. ...
Excerpted from Adventures of a Suburban Boy (Faber and Faber, 2003) with the permission of the author.
ME AND ME DAD
Ireland, 2012, 67m
Director: Katrine Boorman
Starring: Katrine Boorman, John Boorman