Friday, 18 May 2012

Penda's Fen

So, I've finally seen Penda's Fen and I would say that it lived up to its considerable reputation. The picture and sound quality were ok but deteriorated badly at the end - someone's home video - when is this going to be released on DVD with other examples of David Rudkin's work? What I liked most, apart from the strange unsettling visions, was the unashamed introduction and discussion of powerful ideas about religion, politics and national identity. The Only Way is Essex it wasn't. As I've written here before, I loathe the 'Spacehoppers and Spangles' media view of the 1970s: the Dominic Sandbrook series that's just finished was adequate, but had a distinct right-wing bias (constant reiteration of 'unreasonable' demands by workers) and didn't take enough risks - also couldn't the BBC have used someone who was an adult at the time? Anyway, Penda's Fen addressed many of the issues at the heart of the 1970s in a far more interesting way; at one point I thought it was going to turn into an episode of the X Files and there was an intriguing reference to the construction of a large bunker for government personnel (similar to Burlington) in the local landscape. There is an excellent review of it here which says much of what I would probably have written here - I love his phrase ' a world of controlled triviality' (unfortunately the links at the bottom don't work). The writer puts it in a trilogy with The Owl Service (see post below) and The Changes by Peter Dickinson, which I shall now have to seek out. Found it on You Tube but it will take a while to watch - don't remember it, but it definitely looks like the kind of thing I would have watched.

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