Film: 9229

Art + Architecture | 1970 | Sound | Colour


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The artist William Blake (1757-1827).
The film opens with a still shot of a print of Blake's poem; The Tyger. A tree stands on the right of the page, it's branches growing out into the space between the verses. The whole poem is read out,(readings by Marius Goring), and the camera pans down to reveal futher verses as they are read. A smiling tiger stands at the bottom of the page, underneath the poem. The film cuts to a shot of the presenter; Graham Holmes, as he sits behind his desk. He is about 35/40 years old, clean shaven with dark brown/black hair, parted on one side, and swept over. He is wearing a white shirt with a black waistcoat and a black tie. Infront of him, on the desk, are three piles of books, an open book, a telephone and a square, glass ashtray. Behind him, on the left-hand side of the screen, is a glass fronted bookcase and on the right a window. Holmes begins discussing the poem and the drawing. Film cuts to a close up of a page from the Penguin edition of Blake's poetry, type written, not the original printed design. Return to a full shot of the original print. Holmes: "It is more than a poem pure and simple. It is concieved as a design with the words forning part of a visualised whole". Return to shot of Holmes as he discusses Blake's engraving and techniques. Holmes picks up a detailed printing plate, about the size of a post-card, which is on the table. Cut to a close-up shot of his fingers as he holds the plate, then a close-up of the plate itself.

Cut to two close-up panned shots of two of Blake's watercolour prints, over which some of Blake's words are read. Cut to a close-up panned shot of the printing plate, showing the reverse detail. Move on to a panned shot of Blake's peom; The School Boy, then another poem The Sick Rose. All Blake's poems were etched prints, the illustrations intertwined with some of the words, finished with watercolours. Return to a shot of Holmes sitting at his desk. Cut to a shot of a pencil drawing of William Blake, probably a self-portrait. Return to a close-up shot of The Tyger. The bottom half of the page is visable, showing the tiger and the last two verses, which are read out again. Return to Holmes as he discusses what the poem means. Cut to close-up, still and panned, shots of two-tone prints from The Book of Job. Close-up shots of The Tyger. Return to Holmes as he continues to discuss the poem and compare it to other Blake works. The film then cuts to close-up shots of three etched prints with watercolour finish from his work; The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. Cut to close-up, panned shots of the poem; Infant Joy, which is also read out. Close up of the area above the poem, showing the illustration; a red, flame-like, flower. Inside it's petals are a mother and child, and an angel. Camera pans around to reveal other parts of the writing and illustration; a drooping red bud is joined to the flowers stem at the side of the page, some of the stem is joined to small areas of the lettering. Film returns to a shot of Holmes as he discusses The Book of Thel, a poem printed in 1789. Cut to a shot of the top of the first page, then of the front cover of the book. The camera pans into the page to reveal in detail the woman and flowers in the bottom half of the print. Explanation follows from Holmes on the figures and plants on the cover. A short section from the book is read out. Cut to a full shot of a page from the poem. The image with the writing shows Thel, sitting weeping with her head down, at her feet a naked figure plays with a child. Holmes continues discussing The Book of Thel and comparing it to other works. Cut to a full, then panned close-up shot of a page from Songs of Innocence and of Experience which shows the expulsion of Adam and Eve from Eden, flames also cover the page. Film cuts to a close-up panned shot showing the words, as they are read out, of Blake's poem The Blossom. Full shot of the whole page and the image of flames around the edge of the words, there are figures which sit on the flames at the top of the page. Holmes discusses his understanding of the poem. Return to a shot of Holmes at his desk. Several close-up shots follow of seven/eight of Blake's prints, just illustrations, no text, mainly showing pain or distruction.(Possibly from The Book of Urilem). The previous shots include this books title page.

Return to Holmes at his desk. Cut to a head and shoulders shot of Blake's early watercolour; Glad Day. The camera pans out to reveal the full image of the naked male, his arms outstretched, a red, blue and yellow coloured background/sky. Cut to a much later image; Jerusulem. A naked man stands, arms outstretched, this time facing away from the viewer, his head tilted upwards. The camera pans up the print to reveal an image of the crucifixion, light bursting from behind Christ's head. All three figures have a similar pose, if different expression. Return to a close-up image of Glad Day.

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