Sunday, 21 December 2008
Sunday Night is.. Dead of Night 1
Christmas is the time for ghost stories. There is a British film of 1945 called Dead of Night, a portmanteau film, meaning it is made by several directors, pulled together into a single narrative based on a house party where the guests tell stories of supernatural experiences. Here is the IMDb entry. This is the poster.
The poster looks gorier and much more sensational than the film, which is rather beautiful and properly troubled. Looking at it one can't help thinking of M.R. James who is, I think, the touchstone for English ghost stories. There are three particularly good episodes. Here is the first, the Christmas party with a very young Sally Ann Howes. I will add other parts later. The whole film is on YouTube, in episodic chunks.
M.R.James himself said there were five key features of the English ghost story:
The pretense of truth
"A pleasing terror"
No gratuitous bloodshed or sex
No "explanation of the machinery"
Setting: "those of the writer's (and reader's) own day"
Well then., here is the gorgeous intro with the credits, followed by the Christmas Party episode.
The Christmas Party
The frame is the clever thing. It seems static, but it is what holds the mostly innocuous pictures in place. Then again it is not what happens but what one imagines might happen. Some of the time anyway.