Film: 9242

Art + Architecture | 1950 | Sound | Colour


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The artist William Blake.(1757-1827) told in the 1950's

This film begins with a short piece of written text placed over an etching by Blake which explains the intended direction of the film: "…as a poet, painter and visionary, he lived unrecognised, in opposition to the social and spiritual life of his time. To express his dissatisfaction and torment at this, he invented a personal world and mythology, even a private religion, which this film sets out to explore." This film is illustrated throughout with etchings by William Blake. Over these images extracts are read out from Blake's poetry and writings, as well as some narrative explanation. Songs and music which were written especially for this film are also played. The film cuts to a panned shot of the title page for Blake's book; Songs of Innocence. The shot starts on the illustration and pans up to the title, which fits the entire frame. Cut to a shot of the illustration from the title page of Blake's poem; Infant Joy. The shot pans down revealing the two printed verses of the poem. Over the images the poem is read out. Accompanied by song there follows several close-up panned shots of certain areas and full shots of four/five of Blake's etched prints, with no text. (Possibly from; Songs of Innocence). Similar shots follow of etchings depicting god, angels and other heavenly scenes. A narrative explanation of the images/characters shown is played, as is a short reading taken from Blake's writing about heaven. Several close-up and panned shots follow of the etchings based around the creation of man, and Adam and Eve, a narrative explanation is played throughout. The images include close-up, panned shots of naked bodies, writhing and distorted, entangled by serpents.

Cut to close-up shots of the etching which depicts the murder of Able by his brother Kane. A full shot of the etching follows. The film now cuts to the etched page of the poem; A Poison Tree, the camera pans down the page as the poem is read. The camers holds at the bottom of the page at the illustration; a dead man, arms outstretched lying under the tree. Numerous close-up shots follow from Blake's etched illustrations and drawings, (possibly from The Marriage of Heaven and Hell), which depict images of good and evil and the destruction which can follow sin. Shots of three futher etchings are shown, including one which appears to depict Blake himself pushing open an arched door which he is about to enter. The narrative informs the viewer of the private symbols and mythology in Blake's work, and of his imagination, which depicts the "struggle and torment of his soul". The film cuts to four still shots of etchings which show different women, all wearing white flowing dresses. Each of the shots fade in and out of focus as the image changes. There now follows a series of etched images, alongside narrative, which begin by depicting; "…gentle and diminutive" scenes of "…playful humans on beasts which are still captive". Next follow images of the "…cruel and grotesque", the "…beasts and people change to creatures of darkness and the night". Included are images of manacled creatures/humans showing evil or fear in their faces. This series of etchings ends with several close-up, panned shots of man being cast into hell and of hell itself. These include several, close-up, panned shots of Blake's etching inspired by Dante's Inferno. The film now cuts to a shot of the title page from Blake's work; Jerusalem. The camera pans down the title page and the following seven pages of the poem as part of it is read out. The illustrations and the positioning of the words are visable. Shots of two etchings from Jerusalem follow, one of a man and the other of a woman. Although both are apparently surrounded by flames they are more peaceful representations. A quick, panned shot follows of the illustration of a page from Jerusalem titled; 2nd Chap. The film cuts to a panned shot, from top to bottom, of the title page of Blake's work; The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. This includes a close-up of a man and a woman embracing at the bottom of the page. Several shots follow, both still and panned close-ups, of the illustrations from Blake's Jerusalem, while these are shown part of this poem is read out. Included in these illustrations is the last page; The End of The Song of Jerusalem, which includes a depiction of god embracing man.

A close-up, panned shot of Blake's watercolour/print Glad Day is also shown. The film cuts to a still shot of a Blake etching which shows a shepherd standing next to his sheep, crook in hand. Cut to a panned shot, from top to bottom of Blake's poem; The Lamb. The camera holds at the bottom of the poem on the illustration; a young child feeding a lamb, other sheep and lambs are pictured behind him. Part of this poem is read out over these images. Two shots follow on two areas of a picture of the Virgin and child. The first still shot rests on the face of the Virgin the second on the face and chest of Jesus, Mary's raised hands and forearms can be seen next to Jesus' head. Several shots follow, both still, close-up and panned, which show six of Blake's depictions of the crucifixion. A close-up shot, panning out, of the ressurection image; Glad Day is shown. Cut to a close-up shot, panning out, of a very detailed and complex etching which shows an image of heaven and those expelled to hell; Judgement Day. A close-up, panned shot follows of the area of print which shows chained, bound and fearful people falling down to hell. The shot cuts to a similar shot of men, women and children ressurected to heaven, with calm faces full of joy. A close-up, panned shot, on some of these faces is shown as the film ends with a quote from Blake read out which describes the old age affecting his body and health but not his spirit or imagination which lives forever and gets stronger and stronger as his body decays.

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