Film Screening 12th July, 2008

Poster for The Hangman

The Hangman 

8:00 PM, 12th July, 2008

  • 11 mins
  • Unknown
  • Les Goldman, Paul Julian
  • Herschel Bernardi (Narrator)

A short animated film based on an allegorical children's poem by Maurice Ogden ((ndash)) "children's poem", that is, in the same sense that the grislier Brothers Grimm folktales are children's stories. A mysterious hangman comes to the town and builds a gallows, then hangs the residents, in plain view and without opposition, one by one.

Poster for The Last Hangman (Pierrepoint)

The Last Hangman (Pierrepoint) 

9:31 PM, 12th July, 2008

  • M
  • 91 mins
  • Unknown
  • "Bob Mills, Jeff Pope"
  • Adrian Shergold
  • Timothy Spall, Juliet Stevenson, Eddie Marsan, Clive Francis

Canberra has some public servants who can't tell you where they work or what they do. You (and they) might not like their occupation: but our laws require their work to be done. Enter the secretive twilight world of Albert Pierrepoint, a British hangman.

Pierrepoint, a mild-mannered grocer, followed his father into an extraordinary part time career: hanging condemned prisoners. From the 1930s to the 1950s Albert carried out 450 executions: 433 male and 17 female. He focused methodically on his prison duties and managed to keep at bay the morbid introspective thoughts which haunted most in this line of work. Albert's dignified ways led to him carrying out important assignments like the Nazi war crimes executions after the Nuremberg trials and, contrary to the prevalent social perception of killers as subhuman, he maintained respect for his clients. Over time he experienced complex reactions to the moral ambiguities of capital punishment which led to tension on the home front, particularly once British society liberalised its views after World War II.

While some members may baulk at the topic, this is a fascinating historical drama and the performances of Timothy Spall and Juliet Stevenson as husband and wife are outstanding.

Alison Oakeshott

Poster for Chimes at Midnight

Chimes at Midnight 

11:26 PM, 12th July, 2008

  • 115 mins
  • Unknown
  • Orson Welles
  • Orson Welles
  • Orson Welles, John Gielgud, Jeanne Moreau, Margaret Rutherford, Keith Baxter

Chimes is a condensed version of three of Shakespeare's history plays, dealing largely with the reign of Henry IV (Gielgud), whose contentious claim on the throne leads to civil war within England. His son, Prince Hal (Baxter) is currently content to rollick and carouse in the company of the disreputable Sir John Falstaff (Welles). As Hal and Falstaff head into battle in defence of a King who despises both of them, it becomes heartbreakingly clear that Hal will have to abandon Falstaff to take his throne.

If for no other reason, it's worth watching this for the ten minute Battle of Shrewsbury sequence ((ndash)) an intense clash of mud, horses, chaos and fog, with Falstaff semi-ridiculous in his XXXL armour, clattering around attempting to avoid the death that surrounds him. Falstaff is the part Welles was born to play, and this is the masterpiece he was born to make.

I'm not sure if this is a recently restored print or not [unavailable ((ndash)) Ed.] ((ndash)) if it is, you can't call yourself a cineaste if you miss this. If it isn't ((ndash)) well, if you're willing to overlook the mild technical flaws here and there with the occasional bit of mis-synced sound (don't complain to the projectionist: this was the case with the original version, as much of the dialogue was dubbed ((ndash)) occasionally, in the case of Spanish-speaking extras, by Welles himself), there's a visual and aural feast on offer. Come gorge. Falstaff would want you to...

Simon Tolhurst