Film: 5103

Personalities | 1970 | Sound | Colour

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Synopsis:

Kenneth Clark born in 1903.
Throughout this film Kenneth Clark talks about his Edwardian childhood, his family life and his parents social class. Most of the images used to illustrate his words are filmed from black and white photographs from his family album taken by his parents, or their friends. They range from just before the turn of the century until 1917/18.

Introduction by Kenneth Clark. He sits on a wooden bench in his garden with a hedge and trees behind him. He is wearing light brown trousers, brown cardigan, a light coloured shirt and a cravatte. He sits with a book on his lap which, as he begins speaking, he snaps shut. Cut to a close-up to panned shot, from top to bottom, moving out to full view, of a black and white photograph of the house he was born in; 32, Grovesner Square, now occupied by the American Embassy. Cut to two close-up shots of a photograph of his parents faces, camera zooms out to reveal another man and woman, as they sit on the deck of a boat. Over these images Clark describes his parents as coming from a section of society called 'the idle rich'. His father is slightly balding and has a large moustache, his mother wears a white dress and hat, which is tied from the rim down round her neck. Return to a film of Clark as he sits in the garden continuing to discuss the lifestyle of his parents class, close-up head and shoulders shot. Second shot of Clark's father taken, as with all other images mentioned, from a photograph. He is younger and wearing a dark hat, he has a similar moustache but with twisted ends. Full shot, zooming in, of a third photograph of a similar time, his father sits at a table. Cut to a close-up of his father, camera zooms out to reveal a group of men and women from a shooting party. He wears a dark hat and a coat with a fur collar, two men in the party carry guns. They are all in typical Edwardian dress. Cut to a full shot of Clark's father sitting in the countryside, a dog beside him, cigarette in mouth and a gun visable behind him, apparently taking part in a shoot. Continued commentry on Clark's fathers lifestyle. Return to film of Clark in garden. Cut to a head and shoulders shot of Clark's father as a boy/young man. Full shot to close-up of his mother as a young woman, she is standing infront of a wooden cabinet, a plant behind her, and a pair of high-laced boots with round-ended shoe horns inside are on the right of picture.

Clark continues narrative with information of his mother's family history. Various panned, full and close-up, shots of eleven/twelve more photographs from Clark's family album. Most of the images are of his parents, some also show Clark with one of his parents. Cut to a long shot, then close-up, of the front of Clark's family house, Sudbourne Hall, Suffolk. Three more shots of the outside of the house follow. Cut to film from four photographs showing the inside of the house; the mainhall, gallery and staircases. Recently trasformed in a Tudor/Jacobean style; 'it was in very bad taste'. Full shot of the library room, zooming in on the bookcases. Cut to an illustration from one of these books which shows a black and white drawing with added brown colour, of a mother reading to her child. The shot pans across to reveal the title page: Reading Without Tears or, a Pleasant Mode of Learning to Read, by the author of Peep of Day Mrs. F.L.Mortimer. Two panned shots of two of the books pages which show letters of the alphabet entwined with drawings of plants or animals with begin with the same letter. The drawings are black and white with watercolour added. Film returns to a shot of Clark as he continues discussing his early life. He is now sitting in a white backed chair with full bookcases behind him and he has a half smoked cigar in his hand.

Cut to the title pages from another book from Clark's childhood: The Golliwogg's Christmas and The Golliwogg at the Sea-side, both written and illustrated by Florence and Bertha Upton. Full and close-up shots of five of the colour illustrations follow. Cut to a shot of a photograph of the Billiard Room in the Clark house, the billiard table and friends sitting behind are visable. Two/three close-up shots of balls on the billiard table. Cut to a shot of Clark and his father by a river with trees in the background. Full and close-up shot of Clark as a boy(5/6yrs) and his Grandmother; wearing a black hat and coat with white hair visable under hat. They both sit infront of a variety of flowers and plants. Cut to a long shot of a view of Sudbourne Church, followed by a panned shot, from roof to pews on the knave. Cut to a shot of three men, Clark's father arms folded in centre, all three are wearing flat caps and have large moustaches. Return to film of Clark, sitting in garden, infront of a bush. Cut to four shots of horses photographed at the Suffolk Punch, with one man holding each set of reins. Full shot, then close-up of the stables at Sudbourne House which includes a shot of two vintage motor-cars. Cut to three shots of Clark as a young boy sitting on various ponies. Return to Clark in his garden. Panned colour film shots of Sudbourne House from when the film was made. Cut to three shots of Clark's father playing golf, apparently without much skill. Full shots of photographs of Clark as a child(aged 6/7). Includes to images of Clark in fancy-dress and one hugging teddy-bears. Cut to about twenty photographs of the shooting parties which the family held, over these images is played Clark's narrative description of events. The images included are of: Large group photographs of participants, the men with guns, the women in furs and large hats, men in motor-cars crossing fields, grouse flying in the sky, the 'beaters' walking in groups across the fields and men pointing their guns towards the sky and shooting. Cut to several shots of seven black and white pen and ink illustrations, (from Punch magazine), showing 'ladies and gentlemen' in the evening, after a shoot. Included are women drinking tea, men playing billiards, smoking cigars and/or drinking, and heated discussions over bridge.

Return briefly to Clark in his garden. Shots of several photographs of the French Riviera where the family had moved, includes long shot of Monacco Harbour and two shots of a second harbour, one with two yachts in. Several close-up panned shots, modern colour film, of a model of a large yacht named Katoomba, whick Clark's father had had made, still shots of some of the detail. Cut to a full, still shot of a photograph of a Monacco casino, men and women walking around infront. Still shot of Clark as a young boy, sitting on the deck of a yacht with one arm around a dog, several men work on the boat in the background. Cut to a head and shoulders shot of a photograph of the aging Princess Eugiene, wearing a black hat and long black veil. Return to film of Clark, sitting inside his house with a window behind, as he continues discussing aspects of his early life. Two shots of photographs of Leicester Square, showing theatres, horse and cart, horse-drawn busses and people. Cut to a close-up of an advertising poster for the Alhambra. Second shot of other poster advertisments, shot pans down to reveal that they are on the side of a theatre, the boxes/stalls entrance to the theatre is also visable. Several shots of photographs of the River Yew, some which include Clark as a child and others which show his father and friends fishing. Cut to several shots of five photographs of yachting parties; groups large and small, of people standing/sitting on the deck. Cut to a panned, then close-up shot of Clark and his father; cigarette in mouth sitting in a shallow boat, an oar on the edge of the boat seperates them. Return to film of Clark, sitting in a wooden chair on the grass, leaves on branches hanging behind, his arms and hands move around as he talks. Various shots of seven images of soldiers during World War I. They include a group of helmeted soldiers with guns, two soldiers either side of a large field gun, a shot of six soldiers and lines of barbed wire silhouetted against the horizon, soldiers carrying the wounded on stretchers and two officers inspecting rows of wooden crosses, one is bending over to read the name of the deceased. Return to Clark in the garden as he begins his conclussion, over several family and group photographs; 'the vulgar, disgraceful, overfed, godless social order that we call Edwardian was finished'. The film ends with colour footage showing, individually, the front covers of some of Clark's books. These include; The Gothic Revival, Leonardo Da Vinci: Drawings at Winsor Castle, The Nude, Piero Della Fraccesca, Looking at Pictures, Rembrandt and the Italian Renaissance, Landscape into Art, Ruskin Today, Civilisation, The Romantic Rebellion and Another Part of the Wood- A Self Portrait.


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