The Falconer

  • Film
  • Documentaries
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This documentary investigation into the lives and careers of Peter Lorrimer Whitehead, treads the uncertain border country between fact and fiction. Film-maker, novelist, falconer, Whitehead seems an ideal subject for the quasi-mythologising approach that directors Petit and Sinclair first hinted at in The Cardinal and the Corpse. Here they go at it in full-blooded fashion, assisted to superb effect by digital artist Dave McKean and the sound design of Bruce Gilbert. We are warned that this is a film 'in which nothing is true and everything is permitted.' A researcher (Lacroix) is hired, but Whitehead is drawn to her because she reminds him of his daughter. Lacroix, too, is drawn in, for a while, and finds listening to his voice like 'being stroked along the spine with a feather dipped in formaldehyde.' When she later quits, editor Matthews is sent in to reinterrogate Lacroix's interviewees (among them Stewart Home anticipating the ritual slaughter of Prince Charles on Millennium eve) and track down the missing researcher. The directors combine footage from security cameras with digital video and film clips. Superficial dazzle repels interpretation, which the cunning play of imagery then reinvites. Whitehead himself, boasting on Swedish TV about copulating with falcons, is as mesmerising as you would expect of someone who both looks and sounds like a genetic splice of Rutger Hauer and Anthony Hopkins.

Release details

Duration: 56 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Chris Petit, Iain Sinclair
Cast: Peter Whitehead
Fran├žoise Lacroix
Francis Stewart
Stewart Home
Olga Utechina
Howard Marks
Kathy Acker
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