Ill Fares the Land

Film
From Michael Powell to Bills Forsyth and Douglas, Scotland endures as the resonant repository for British cinematic mythology. An impressive addition to that tradition, this is a moving, factually-based investigation of the last gasps of life on remote St Kilda. Besieged by hunger, in-breeding, and a remarkable lack of contact with the outside world, the five families remaining in 1929 finally wrench themselves from their wild, beautiful island in a semi-voluntary act of evacuation to the mainland. The film both celebrates the close-knit community's daily life and examines why, in its reluctance to adapt, it could not but disappear. Neither pastoral idyll nor a 'we had it tough' catalogue of survival strategies, it's more a laconic account of the strengths and strictures of family and ritual - the Sabbath, funerals, a wedding, work and coming-of-age. Here, indeed, lie the connections with Bryden's script for Walter Hill's The Long Riders, and with his stylistic idol John Ford.

By: GA

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