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Wednesday, February 16, 2005

The Widower

Last night I went to the movies at the Somerville Amphitheatre, the oudoor cinema which hosts the Perth International Arts Festival's film series, sponsored by Lotterywest. It was an interesting evening because the film was to be accompanied by Slava Grigoryan on guitar and the singer Lyndon Terracini, who was also screenwriter of the film.
I had another reason for wanting to see this film: It was based on some of my favourite poems by Les Murray, Aussie poet and a shit-stirrer from wayback. Well, actually he is from Bunyah ... I have taken the following blurb from the Melbourne International Film Festival where the film was first exhibited. The score is by Elena Kats-Chernin and Paul Grabowsky.


Director: Kevin Lucas

The Widower
is a music-drama structured around a collection of quintessential Les Murray poems that tell the story of two Australian men—a father and a son—who have lost the most treasured woman in their lives. Exploring the themes of love, ageing, isolation and loss in an Australian rural setting, this evocative tale is from MusicArtsDance, the creative team behind the award-winning One Night the Moon (2001).
Following the death of his beloved wife, emotionally isolated woodcutter Neville (Chris Haywood) is paralysed by the loss and unable to care for his son, Blake. Shipping the boy off to a distant boarding school, Neville plunges further into despair, escaping into a world of the imagination, and living in a suspended reality where dreams appear real. Several years later, Blake, now a young man, returns to his former home, shocked to discover what has become of his father.

“The Widower is a love story played backwards. It’s about what loneliness can do to the imagination, and the enduring strength of the spirit to help us overcome loss and grief. It’s about how the vitality of life, the essence of life, is found in the things we love.”—Director Kevin Lucas

I found it an inspiring movie, full of dark and light, humour and pathos. I liked the music, although baritone operatic singing is not my favourite ... Lyndon Terracini was ill on the night, so luckily they had another cut of the film with the singing which Slava played along to. The music was often haunting and the forest scenes were majestic. The fine acting and the lack of dialogue led to a film for the audience to interpret personally, instead of the old Hollywood trick of leading you by the nose. This film was subtle where it needed to be, and obvious in others - particularly the very humourous sex scene. The poetic moments weren't awkward or syrupy, as so often happens, but implied with an artistic restraint that mainstream films could learn from.

'The things I write about are mainly religious or metaphysical – I’m concerned with relations between human time and eternity at the odd points where they meet and illuminate each other, for example where matter becomes immortal, or spirit enters time ‘for a season’.'
Les Murray

'In the poetry of human grief Murray has no modern peer.'
Peter Alexander

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