Archive for February, 2015

Pentlow Film Club – February 2015

Film ReelThis month a good audience came to see Michaelangelo Frammartino’s film Le Quattro Volte, and the general comment on it was that it was different. Filmed in the little town of Caulonia in non-tourist Calabria, almost completely silent and beautifully slow, it was certainly that. Caulonia’s claim to fame is that Pythagoras set up his school there, and developed his idea that we all have four aspects of life: the human, the animal, the plant, and the life of the earth. So we have a shepherd, his herd of goats and his dog (the star), the tree that ends up as charcoal and the preposterous truck that transports it, the turning year and the thankless landscape which yields no more than bare survival. The film’s reality is almost shocking; at one time I was certain I could smell those goats, and the drifting smoke of the burning charcoal.

The old shepherd carries the burden of the poverty and endurance, almost speechless, accepting life as it is; and the events of the film are birth and death. The old man dies, a kid is born, and dies, the tree dies so that the town has fuel, but the goats hold the energy, flowing like a river of life through the landscape. There are other moments: at the Easter procession, the whole town follows the Cross out of the settlement, with Christ arriving on a moped – not quite a donkey – and the dog snarling things up and giving a lot of trouble to two Roman centurions. The goats, set free by the truck breaking through their fence, then occupy the town.

In an interview on the DVD, Frammartino tells us that the film took a long time to make, since no-one can make a goat do anything – one has to wait until the goat has the same idea. It was not a gloomy film, but it left me with a sense of the hardship and endurance of people who, like the inhabitants of Caulino, live on the margins.

Our next is very different, so do come and see.

Isobel Clark

Foxearth & District Local History Society

The first “home” meeting of the Foxearth and District Local History Society of 2015 consisted of an archive film evening in Foxearth Village Hall on 10th February. Chairman Alan Fitch welcomed 25 members and guests. The film was “The Broads – a Norfolk and Suffolk Treasure” and after a slight  hitch in the engine room we were soon launched onto the waterways!

The film dealt with the several centuries development of this extremely large and important conservation area from early times when it was a sparsely populated wetlands with families mainly engaged upon reed cutting for thatching, eel fishing and operating trading wherries to what came to be recognised as a valuable National Park and recreation facility. In the 18th and 19th centuries artists were drawn to this pastoral and unspoilt haven and their work showed the landscape of rivers and lakes and reed beds. The earliest photographs were of the labour intensive tasks of reed cutting and the harvesting of osiers for basket and hurdle making; tools for cleaning the waterways and shaping the banks were also made as required. From about the beginning of the 20th century people began to escape  from the smoggy cities to take holidays in the Broads and boat hire became popular. Between the wars a number of companies set up business in hiring sailing boats and small cruisers and more building took place on the banks. In 1940 the Broads became a prohibited area because of invasion scares but after the war rapid development occurred. In 1948 there were 500 holiday craft afloat but 20 years later this number as estimated to be 2,000. In 1989 the Broads Authority was established to manage the National Park, ensure public safety and deal with pollution from agricultural run off.

The Broads teem with wildlife; to mention just a very few -birds including marsh harriers and waders; animals such as the water-loving coypu and the small Chinese deer – and the beautiful Swallow-Tail butterfly. In his book -which ran to many editions – “The Swan and Her Crew” the author , Christopher Davy said of the Broads that “there’s no better playground in England”; this comment of about 1900 has certainly been borne out in later years.

The next meeting will be the AGM – the Society’s 16th – on 10th March at 7.30pm in Foxearth Village Hall. There will be cheese and wine, a history quiz and members are asked to bring along their earliest photographs of absolutely anything at all.

Ken Nice

Getting Around in Essex