I disagree with the original Observer review quote that adorns the DVD cover ‘The most powerful film ever made in this country’. Even in 1952 this wouldn’t have been the case across British cinema and director Carol Reed himself had already made his masterpieces The Third Man and Odd Man Out by this point, but it’s still a rollicking and steamy colonial drama.
Trevor Howard is on fine form as a fugitive cad holing up in a remote island village where Ralph Richardson’s famous sailor has a trading post, overseen by Robert Morley, whose nose is put right out of joint by the arrival of Howard. Things get worse when he falls for a beautiful native girl, sending already tense relations boiling over.
A decent tale of the undoing of men, of the evils of greed, capitalism, colonialism, wrapped up in a sweltering tale of ego and selfishness. If some of the moments with the native children feel very pre-PC and the short combat scenes naturally stilted by age, the handling of it all as you’d expect from Reed and such a good cast feels fresh, modern and engaging. The ending, rain lashed and savagely downbeat is beautifully rendered. A gem.
So Maurice Sendak passed away and as David so lovingly put it, his work is already a big formative influence on Hospice.
And Friday, Adam Yauch passed away. These are reminders of what the core of Hospice concerns; death and its timing and the importance of living, not merely existing.
This morning I’ve been listening to the new Richard Hawley album ‘Standing On The Sky’s Edge’ having read about its creation in The Observer. Learning that it was inspired by nature and the passing of one of his friends made me want to hear it and it is wonderful. Shamefully, the first Hawley album I’ve owned, but then I always say art and artists come to us when we need them.
I can already feel that within it are great inspirations for my writing of Hospice. Tonally, atmospherically, lyrically. Even the album cover conveys much of what I want this piece to feel like in terms of colour and perspective.
So a sad week, but one that reminds us of the beauty of life, and the importance of seizing it. Despite the title, and those themes this is not a story of despair, but one of hope and optimism.