A farming family history plays across the lives of a son, father and grandfather. The death of one, brings the others into a world that they understand. Familiar as it is, each have lived it so differently and yet live so much as is life. They have had to travel through a land that is as ancient as the soul of the people, as inherited as day follows night and as layered with traditional systems and traditional techniques. The rural sun and fields live in a sleepy haze. Many have to farm and plough. The houses live in isolation or in a village that is empty of prosperity and hope. Dreams of other places and other faces are but a small shimmer of the dawn.
The BFI have often championed British film and British history. This film adored by Mark Cousins and Terence Davies no less, is a meditation on the British past. Peter Hall wanted to understand and analyse this world of tradition and constant similarity. A space and a place that never changes but renews life. Renews life for the plants, trees and fields. The farming in country locales has not changed as much as we feel it should have and this plays to the world of lives repeated and hurt by history. Lives that are forced into either escape and the chance of redemptive lives or the staying and repeating the former life of an ancestor that saw pain, loss and emptiness.
The lives of people in these places have been stuck in a circle of work and poverty. This film is an amazing play on identity and progression. A play on how one has constructed the others lack of movement.History has also imprisoned these people and Hall delights us in his rolling space and place stance. The dream like balance of the self and our history is clever in its construction but also adds clarity to how lives of many, are lived in so many different times as the same. This happens for identity and as we see ghettos of people and friends as mirrors of themselves. We see everywhere and it says to us that we are from a space and a place but in truth in life, we are all one.
Glorious transfer with the 4k looking amazing. The light, colour and deep richness seems to give this film real power. The docs are all good but I implore you to watch the on location piece. Interviews are great as well. The Garrow Shand is the one I liked because he is a man that has a personal touch.
- Brand new 4K digital restoration by the BFI National Archive
- Akenfield Revisited (Rex Pyke, 2004, 39 mins): Making-of documentary with extensive interviews
- Akenfield on Location (1973, 19 mins) 16mm footage capturing the film’s production
- On-set interview with Ronald Blythe (1973, 3 mins): interview filmed on the first day of production
- An Interview with Sir Peter Hall (2004, 12 mins): an interview with the film’s director
- An Interview with Garrow Shand (2004, 11 mins): an interview with the film s star
- An Interview with Ronald Blythe (2004, 15 mins): an interview with the acclaimed writer
- An Interview with Rex Pyke (2016, 37 mins): newly-filmed interview with the film’s producer
- Akenfield Cast and Crew Interview at the National Film Theatre (2004, 27 mins): on-stage interview, presented with original mute 16mm location footage
- Production Stills Gallery (4 mins)
- Fully illustrated booklet with essays by Sir Peter Hall and Ronald Blythe
UK | 1974 | colour | English language, with optional Hard-of-hearing subtitles | 98 minutes | original aspect ratio 2.35:1
BD50 | 1080p | 24fps | PCM mono audio (48k/24-bit) | Region free
DVD9 | PAL | Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192kbps) | Region 0