Sunday, November 06, 2011

Brassed Off presented by Neil Hardwick

Neil Hardwick presented Brassed Off (GB/US 1996, D+SC: Mark Herman, starring Pete Postlethwaite, Tara Fitzgerald, and Ewan McGregor), his personal favourite film, in our Director's Choice: The Film of the Month series at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 6 Nov 2011.

Hardwick, born in 1948 in Teversal near Nottingham, moved to Finland in 1969 and has become a prominent figure in Finnish television, literature, theatre, and the cinema.

Hardwick told us about the background of Brassed Off: the destruction of the British mining industry during the reign of Margaret Thatcher. Brass bands of high artistic quality were prominent in mining towns. Hardwick, himself, was born to family with deep roots in an old mining community. He told the place has become almost unrecognizable after the closing of the mine: nothing reveals that there has ever been a coalmine there. Brassed Off was shot on location in Yorkshire with actual brass band veterans.

I have also always liked Brassed Off, even more than The Full Monty, Billy Elliot, and Bend It Like Beckham, with which it has similarities, but the sense of gravity in Brassed Off is of a different order.

We screened a vintage Finnish release print, and it was a pleasure to sample the juicy photochemical flavour of the cinematography. I revisited the beginning until their first rehearsal with the Aranjuez Concerto (dubbed "Orange Juice Concerto" by some of them), the double agent Gloria (Tara Fitzgerald) upsetting the macho attitudes of the miners with her wonderful flugelhorn playing. This print has been struck from a source not too far removed from the negative.

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