From: “Phallic Frenzy: Ken Russell and His Films” (Cappella Books) by Joseph Lanza

Russell apparently adopted, with tongue in cheek, John Lennon’s public image circa 1968, of long hair and wire-rimmed glasses for the role of The Devils’ most rancorous religious fanatic: Father Barré (Michael Gothard). In contrast to Lennon, who preached peace like and earthly messiah but eventually sang in “Imagine” about a happy world with “no religion”, Barré was a true and terrorizing believer.

Huxley describes Father Barré as a zealot too caught up in his madness to be consciously deceitful, but Russell once again leaves open a window of doubt. Barré also appears to have more on his mind than saving souls, licking his lips while anticipating Sister Jeanne’s recollection of the night Grandier and “six of his creatures” forced her and her sisters “to form an obscene altar.” … Huxley refers to Jeanne’s exorcism as if “Barré had treated her to an experience that was the equivalent, more or less, of a rape in a public lavatory.”

~~

From: “Evil Spirits – the Life of Oliver Reed” by Cliff Godwin

They send for Father Barré (Michael Gothard), a professional exorcist.
And so begins a series of exorcisms, the like of which has never been seen before in France. The methods that Father Barré and his helpers employ to extract the devils are the most base and erotic ever used.

~~

Online reviews:

Ian Jane


Michael Gothard’s performance as Father Barré is equally fascinating, portraying his rock star exorcist as part Vincent Price from Witchfinder General and part Tim Curry from Rocky Horror Picture Show. He’s flashy, he’s a showman, and his motives are completely questionable but damn does he ever put on a show as he’s going about his business.

Full review on Rock! Shock! Pop!

~~

Simon Moore

Naturally, Richelieu’s problems with Grandier dovetail beautifully with Sister Jeanne’s mad obsession with the moustachioed priest. Devil possession it is. Call in the Witch Hunter, if you’d be so kind. And what a Witch Hunter.

Michael Gothard clocks in a grandstand of a performance, channelling the black comedy of exorcism with an inspired combination of wild-eyed lunacy and sober malice. We know him better as Locque, the silent villain with octagonal glasses from For Your Eyes Only (1981), but he really deserves to be remembered more for his Father Barré, balancing out Oliver Reed’s solemn, individualistic man of God marvellously.

Michael Gothard isn’t the only one deserving of heaps of praise in The Devils … Oliver Reed mesmerises the viewer in one of the true highlights of his acting career …

Full review on Flickering Myth

~~

Craig Skinner

Oliver Reed is joined by a fantastic supporting cast which includes Vanessa Redgrave, Dudley Sutton, Gemma Jones, Michael Gothard and a wonderful performance by Murray Melvin as Mignon.

Full review on FanTasia

~~

Terek Puckett: Supporting Actors: The Overlooked and Underrated

Gothard turns in his best feature film performance by far in director Russell’s classic, controversial historical drama. Curiously restrained in everything else I’ve ever seen him in, Gothard cuts loose in this film with a frenzied, committed performance as a witch hunter employed by the Catholic Church. Unfortunately, Gothard never came close to equalling this perfectly cast role in his acting career.

Full review on Sound on Sight

~~

Adam Groves

All the performers, from seasoned vets like Vanessa Redgrave (as the seemingly lobotomized Sister Jeanne) and Oliver Reed (as Father Grandier) to lesser known talents like Michael Gothard (also seen in SCREAM AND SCREAM AGAIN, who here plays Father Barré) and Georgina Hale (unforgettable as a white faced nun) seem to have understood and absorbed Russell’s intent, delivering performances that are wildly uninhibited, crazed and outlandish--much like the film itself.

Full review on Fright.com

~~

SergioLeone

The dogs of Richelieu’s religious forces are unleashed—first in the person of a sneering, silver-tongued Baron De Laubardemont (Dudley Sutton), an officer in the royal army, and eventually that of the fairly rabid Father Barre (Michael Gothard), an exorcist whose hysteria for the Host of Hosts frequently crosses the line into wanton, animalistic fury. (As does Gothard’s performance; a friend who saw the movie with me suggested that Gothard, with his slender build, long hair and granny glasses, was Russell’s tip of the cap to the younger generation that was, at the time the movie was released, fueling a resurgence in movie attendance, especially for risky ventures like this one. And it’s true—Gothard comes across like the necessarily unholy offspring of Ray Manzarek and Warren Zevon.)

Full review

.
This Island Rod

"… the rapacious Hansen (Michael Gothard) is given to stirring up trouble, eventually raising a rival band of brigands to contest the valley …

The evocation of a blasted, cruel, evil epoch isn’t as ineffaceable or provocative as that in Ken Russell’s 'The Devils' from the same year (they both sport cast member Gothard, with his gift for portraying multiple varieties of creep) but shares some imagery and mood, combined with high-riding sweep of narrative."

Full review


Deitmar Zingl in 70 mm News:

“Michael Caine is especially fond of TLV. It's one of his own favorite movies. He uses a slight German accent for his role as Captain Hauptmann, the cool warrior with a wounded soul.

Omar Sharif is the romantic intellectual, some kind of Zhivago lost in Germany. Per Oscarsson is a religious fanatic priest, wonderfully over the top, as most of the religious fanatics, even today. Florinda Bolkan is the independent woman in a male dominated society and pays a high price for her independence.

More wonderful actors are Nigel Davenport, Arthur O‘Connell and the wild and angry Michael Gothard as Hansen. His performance resembles that of Klaus Kinski in "Aguirre, The Wrath of God" although that came two years later.”

Full review


Ian Christie – Daily Express, 7 April 1971

“…in the hands of director James Clavell, it has an epic quality that never loses its fascination.”


New York Post

“One of the most absorbing film entertainments of the year! A picture that enthralls from start to finish! An historical thriller, realistic in setting, romantically touching and meaningful ...”


Richard Schickel - Life Magazine

“One of the most intelligent movies I’ve seen.”


Vincent Canby - New York Times

“A story of survival set in a magnificent valley like Bertolt Brecht in ‘Mother Courage’, Mr Clavell ses the incredible horrors of the Thirty Years’ War as a metaphor for contemporary horrors … Caine and Sharif are quite good.”


Martha Deane - WOR Radio

“One of the most profound, impressive and important films as seen. I was continually moved by its theme and performances.”


David Goldman - WCBS Radio

“The acting is first rate with Michael Caine doing the best work of his career. An unusual movie-going experience.”


WMCA Radio

“Right in the class of Ben Hur.”


Other reviews

DVD Talk
In Stereo
New York Times
Cane Toad Warrior
rtbot
In this story about the Hundred Years War that ravaged Europe, Michael Gothard played Hansen, one of a band of marauders led by The Captain (Michael Caine).

“The Last Valley” was filmed at Halliford Studios, Shepperton, England, and in Trins, Tirol, Austria.

Filming seems to have taken place during 1969, because there were 40th Anniversary showings on 24 and 27 September 2009.

Per an uncredited source, he may have got this role as a result of his performance in “Michael Kohlhaas.”

"In [Michael Kohlhaas], Michael Gothard played the part of a young soldier who joined Kohlhaas' band, but who, refusing to obey, looted for his own gain, and finally died by hanging. His truculent performance, especially in the last scenes with Anita Pallenberg, earned him a very similar role in “The Last Valley”, James Clavell's ponderous allegory."

Quote taken from Michael Gothard Tribute Site

It also seems likely that Michael’s performance in “The Last Valley” may have led to him being cast as Kai in “Arthur of the Britons.” He even wears the same studded tunic in both productions.

“The Last Valley” was the second project on which Michael appeared with Brian Blessed (who played another mercenary, Korski) – the first being “The Further Adventures of the Musketeers”, and the third being “Arthur of the Britons.”

Harry Fielder, a stuntman/extra/stand-in with whom Michael had worked on the “Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased)” episode, “When the Spirit Moves You”, was an uncredited pillager in “The Last Valley”, and would later work with him on “The Devils.”

Michael Gothard would also work with Michael Caine again, on “Jack the Ripper.”

Incidentally, Michael Caine has confessed that (unlike Michael Gothard) he is a terrible rider, and was lucky to escape unharmed during “The Last Valley.”

"I am absolutely useless. I act as though I can ride. In “The Last Valley,” I led a charge. If I'd have come off, they'd have all run over me.”
Full article.

Watch "The Last Valley" on Youtube:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8
Part 9
Part 10

Details on IMDB

Reviews

This Island Rod

"… the rapacious Hansen (Michael Gothard) is given to stirring up trouble, eventually raising a rival band of brigands to contest the valley …

The evocation of a blasted, cruel, evil epoch isn’t as ineffaceable or provocative as that in Ken Russell’s 'The Devils' from the same year (they both sport cast member Gothard, with his gift for portraying multiple varieties of creep) but shares some imagery and mood, combined with high-riding sweep of narrative."

Full review

Deitmar Zingl in 70 mm News:

“Michael Caine is especially fond of TLV. It's one of his own favorite movies. He uses a slight German accent for his role as Captain Hauptmann, the cool warrior with a wounded soul.

Omar Sharif is the romantic intellectual, some kind of Zhivago lost in Germany. Per Oscarsson is a religious fanatic priest, wonderfully over the top, as most of the religious fanatics, even today. Florinda Bolkan is the independent woman in a male dominated society and pays a high price for her independence.

More wonderful actors are Nigel Davenport, Arthur O‘Connell and the wild and angry Michael Gothard as Hansen. His performance resembles that of Klaus Kinski in "Aguirre, The Wrath of God" although that came two years later.”

Full review

Other reviews of “The Last Valley.”

DVD Talk
In Stereo
New York Times
Cane Toad Warrior
rtbot
Under the "World Cinema" heading, "Herostratus" was shown on BBC2 at 9:40 pm on Friday 21 August 1970.

Dick Richards of the Daily Mirror called it "Experimental, but fascinating."

Herostratus 1970 RT
From: “Media Gems.”

Several renowned TV series writers used the opportunity of a format seemingly without any limits to engage in all kinds of experiments (from a dramatic, not a technical point of view). Therefore, when we see the episodes today our verdict must be that many (not all) have aged surprisingly well. Not only do they profit from the chemistry between Matthews and Ros Drinkwater who plays Steve, but also from considerable achievements by the crew. A good example is Philip Dudley’s direction of “Games People Play”, an episode which benefits greatly from the fact that the action is set on Malta and that it was made entirely on film. Co-producer Bryant compared this story to Fellini's classic, La Dolce Vita.

Full review.
Read more... )
Benjamin Halligan in "Michael Reeves."

"In Scream and Scream Again, a psychotic clone, Keith (played by the reliably psychotic Michael Gothard), rampages through London nightclubs, part way to A Clockwork Orange or The Final Programme, the Amen Corner grooving through When We Make Love on a tiny corner stage like cut-price Stones.

Keith drives the girls he picks up on to Hampstead Heath in his MG, where he rapes and murders them. He is a Frankenstein creature, fascinated by his ability to squeeze the life from the human form yet, in his garb, this tendency is lent the ethos of no-holds-barred hippie hedonism.

He possessed the same blankness in the face of violence as Richard Burton’s lone Kray in Villain; a Hitchcockian visual metaphor—murder as sex, violence as sexual frenzy.

The Heath shots are day-for-night—a jarring darkness at noon—and are oppressive and unreal; the light of his world repulses, as it might to a depressive…. In its pervasive hopelessness and nihilism, its corrupt state apparatus and constant brutality, the high-speed car chase and the rejection of any sense of freedom, it is a film haunted by Mike. [Reeves]

Ageing German expressionist master Fritz Lang saw something in it too, perhaps an introduction to the new Zeitgeist, and outlandishly heaped praise upon it; perhaps Lang felt a frisson of the Weimar Republic days in the death of the 1960s and the film connected the two in its distant echoes of Lang’s own 1930s work—pulp Fascism, secret states and scientific progress for a new, madder God."

"Michael Reeves" by Benjamin Halligan. Manchester University Press, 2003.

~~

David Pirie in “A New Heritage of Horror: The English Gothic.”

"The film’s script therefore had no official hero or heroine but it did boast a modern vampire sex killer, and what seems to be the first full-on dark ending in the history of UK horror. The sequence in which the police track down the humanoid vampire (superbly played by Michael Gothard) has a wonderful pace and style, making it scarcely surprising that Fritz Lang—one of the masters of the thriller—should have been so impressed that he singled Scream and Scream Again out for special praise in one of his last interviews. But then the film revolutionized the story structure of the whole English horror genre, having a complexity we had never seen before."

A New Heritage of Horror: The English Gothic, by David Pirie. I. B. Tauris; new edition 2008.

~~

Tom Johnson and Mark A. Miller in “The Christopher Lee Filmography.”

"The real stars of this film are Alfred Marks and Michael Gothard. … As the brutal vampire-killer, Michael Gothard projects an out-of-control, psychopathic quality that is cold and ugly and not easily forgotten.

Remarkably, he performed all of his dangerous stunts himself. He fell ten feet from a beam, rolled part way down a rocky quarry, and allowed himself to be pulled up the side of this same steep quarry by a steel cable to give the effect that he was running up it with his super strength. Gothard’s dedication gives this film much of its punch because, according to both Heyward and Hessler, 'this was the only way the stunts could have been included because of the low budget.'"

Christopher Lee Filmography: all theatrical releases, 1948-2003, by Tom Johnson and Mark A. Miller, McFarland & Co., 2004.

~~

From: “Science Fiction Stars and Horror Heroes: Interviews with Actors, Directors, Producers, and Writers of the 1940s through 1960s."

Interview with executive producer, Louis M. Heyward.

"I felt that Michael Gothard was going to be the biggest thing that ever happened. He had that insane look and that drive, and he was wonderful. Here is a kid who really threw himself into the picture wholeheartedly. Do you remember the scene where he appears to be walking up the cliff? That's a stunt that, as an actor, I would not have agreed to; I'd say, 'Hey, get a double or get a dummy. I ain't either one.' But the kid agreed to do it, without a double--he was that driven. He had a lot of class and a lot of style. Gordon [Hessler, Alfred Hitchcock's protege] came up with the idea of using an overhead cable to give that illusion of his walking up the cliff."

(Weaver, Tom, Brunas Michael and Brunas, John. Science Fiction Stars and Horror Heroes: Interviews with Actors, Directors, Producers, and Writers of the 1940s through 1960s. page 176)

Note: Perhaps this is what Michael’s friend from the 1980s, Sean McCormick, meant, when he said that: “He [Michael] took great delight in telling stories of movie-making hell, from “Scream and Scream Again …”

~~

Kim Newman in “Nightmare Movies: Horror on Screen Since the 1960s.”

The Living Dead of Scream and Scream Again are an underground organization of supermen, cobbled together Frankenstein-fashion from the choicest body-snatched parts available and conspiring to take over the world. Their numbers include: Keith (Michael Gothard), a malfunctioning cool cat who vampires teenagers he picks up in a disco and, as John R. Duvoli wrote, "looks like Mick Jagger after a bad trip."

Nightmare Movies: Horror on Screen Since the 1960s, by Kim Newman, Bloomsbury Publishing, 2001.

~~

Charlie Albertson in “Movies You Should See.”

Michael Gothard has the moves like Jagger and the looks too and is oddly sympathetic as the “Vampire” killer, making his escape from handcuffs in a truly memorable way.

Movies You Should See, by Charlie Albertson, 2012.

~~

Online reviews:

Fernando F. Croce on Notebook Digital Magazine.


It should come as no surprise to learn that Fritz Lang in his twilight years declared his admiration for Scream and Scream Again, as Gordon Hessler’s 1970 British shocker plays like a veritable anthology of themes and images from the Teutonic master’s oeuvre.

[And in the comments, from a David Ehrenstein:] “Scream and Scream Again” is indeed wonderful, particularly for the running vivisection gag and the great performance by Michael Gothard — Britian’s answer to Pierre Clementi. It’s his finest hour next to “The Devils.”

Full review

~~

George R. Reis on DVD Drive-in.

"Michael Gothard is also well cast (looking somewhat like the Mick Jagger of Altamont ) as the humanoid "vampire killer" Keith, stalking and mutilating women in fashionable mod England."

Full review

~~

Breakfast in the Ruins.

And as to the killer – well he’s quite a piece of work too. In scenes eerily reminiscent of a number of later British horrors, Michael Gothard stalks around a seedy faux-psychedelic nightclub (a brief shot of the doorway reveals that it's named ‘The Busted Pot’) as pop-psyche combo Amen Corner perform in the background (their overblown Shel Talmy-produced theme song for the movie is a hoot). Reeling in naïve girls (Judy Huxtable amongst them) with his Byronic charm, he zooms them off to isolated spots in his Jag, where blood-curdling unpleasantness ensues.

All this leads up to what’s generally regarded as the film’s highlight – a protracted action set-piece that sees the super-powered and apparently unstoppable Gothard fleeing from the combined forces of the British constabulary, screeching down the motorway, scattering coppers like ninepins, charging on foot through a convenient home counties forest like “..some bionic Mick Jagger”, as Jonathan Rigby puts it in his book ‘English Gothic’, and even finding a gruesome new method of escape when he’s finally handcuffed to a car bumper after a dramatic showdown in a chalk quarry.

Impressively staged and edited, this is all pretty frantic, high octane stuff,

Full review

~~

Heathblair on IMDB.

The casting is astute. The late Michael Gothard makes a good, eerie cyborg psychopath as he prowls groovy London discotheques in search of party-girls whom just assume he's a good-looking guy with a fast car and an Austin Powers shirt. Of course, the reality is more gruesome, and he is soon savagely murdering them and sucking their blood - although exactly why he has vampiric tendencies is, typically, never explained. With his turns in that other super-trash magnum opus, Lifeforce, and Ken Russell's brilliant The Devils, I'm surprised Gothard doesn't have more of a cult following.

Review on IMDB

~~

Beardy Freak.

"Thankfully Alfred Marks (as a no-nonsense, straight-talking Police detective) gives a truly gorgeous performance and has some great dialogue to throw out. His random rant about the state of the Police station sandwiches is everyday situation comedy gold decades before Tarantino.

He's backed up by the ever welcome (if ultimately tragic ...) Michael Gothard ("The Devils") as the bizarre, superhuman, vampire style, serial killer.

But there's something just not right in seeing Gothard boogying on the dance-floor in a 70's disco!

Full review

~~

Uncredited reviewer:

"But it is in "Scream and Scream Again" that film buffs were struck by Gothard. In this fantastic modern tale, very reminiscent of Fritz Lang, Gothard plays a weird character, a vampire with fabulous power, created by Vincent Price. During the course of a long chase across the English countryside, beautifully filmed by director Gordon Hessler, he cuts off his hand and dies in a vat of acid."

Quote taken from Michael Gothard Tribute Site

Thanks to Tzaratango for finding most of these reviews.

NB. The car driven by Keith is neither an MG nor Jag, but an Austin-Healey.
“Scream and Scream Again” was Michael’s first foray into the horror genre, as the vampire, Keith

Vincent Price is reported to have said: “Michael Gothard … received the best notices for “Scream and Scream Again” as the dynamic and desperate vampire.”

Both the Director, Gordon Hessler, and the Executive Producer, Louis M. Heyward, were very favourably impressed with him.

Incidentally, Nigel Lambert (who played Ken Sparten) appeared in two of the same episodes of “The Further Adventures of the Musketeers” as Michael, “Peril” and “Escape.”

From: “The Christopher Lee Filmography.”

The real stars of this film are Alfred Marks and Michael Gothard. … As the brutal vampire-killer, Michael Gothard projects an out-of-control, psychopathic quality that is cold and ugly and not easily forgotten.

Remarkably, he performed all of his dangerous stunts himself. He fell ten feet from a beam, rolled part way down a rocky quarry, and allowed himself to be pulled up the side of this same steep quarry by a steel cable to give the effect that he was running up it with his super strength. Gothard’s dedication gives this film much of its punch because, according to both Heyward and Hessler, "this was the only way the stunts could have been included because of the low budget."

(Johnson, Tom, and Mark A. Miller. Christopher Lee Filmography: all theatrical releases, 1948-2003, The. McFarland & Co., 2004. p. 199-200.)

~~

Interview with executive producer, Louis M. Heyward.

"I felt that Michael Gothard was going to be the biggest thing that ever happened. He had that insane look and that drive, and he was wonderful. Here is a kid who really threw himself into the picture wholeheartedly. Do you remember the scene where he appears to be walking up the cliff? That's a stunt that, as an actor, I would not have agreed to; I'd say, 'Hey, get a double or get a dummy. I ain't either one.' But the kid agreed to do it, without a double--he was that driven. He had a lot of class and a lot of style. Gordon [Hessler, Alfred Hitchcock's protege] came up with the idea of using an overhead cable to give that illusion of his walking up the cliff."

(Weaver, Tom, Brunas Michael and Brunas, John. Science Fiction Stars and Horror Heroes: Interviews with Actors, Directors, Producers, and Writers of the 1940s through 1960s. page 176)

This is all the more remarkable when you consider Don Levy's assertion, "Mike Gothard ... can't stand heights." But Levy made him stand on the edge of the roof of an 18-storey block, with no safety devices and in a howling gale. At least on "Scream and Scream Again" he was attached to a cable!
Read more... )
An epsiode review by Josephine Haworth was published in The Stage, published 19 June 1969.
Extracts are reproduced below.

ATV series shows no sign of flagging

… It is difficult to sustain a good pace throughout a series of hour-long crime stories, and all too often the content is padded with irrelevant sentimental soul-searching, or gratuitous stunts. Fraud Squad, produced by Nicholas Palmer and Robert D. Cardona, has so far avoided these devices …

A well-worn con game was neatly unrolled for us, with plenty of twists to the theme. A philanthropic lady with the comfortable name of Mrs Pilgrim (Caroline Blakiston) advertised in Nuneaton’s local Argus, promising a luxury flat at 35s. a week for destitute Cathys in the area. Just ten shillings sent to a P.O. box number would buy the applicant a brochure giving full details.

The members of the gang were well cast in their contrasting roles, each one a different class of crook: Caroline Blakiston the crisply efficient, hard working brains of the outfit, Michael Gothard as her young lover, messenger boy and acolyte, scared of the police, ready to ditch the operation; and best of all Richard Pearson as Skeggy, the petty confidence trickster, well known to the police …

All this was nicely offset by the fraud squad’s activity at each stage of their game. Inevitably, the atmosphere of a series, and hence to a large extent its popularity, is set by the heroes. Here, Patrick O’Connell and Joanna Van Gyseghem as Detective Sergeant Vicky Hicks score ... This could be the basic stuff for a marathon series.
Michael Gothard, who was later to star in Barbet Schroeder's "The Valley (Obscured by Clouds)", is credited by the BFI for a very minor role in Schroeder's first film, "More": a non-speaking part, as a guest at a party attended by the couple whose relationship is the focus of the film. The character, clearly high on drugs, and snatching at something that isn't there, serves as a dumb show for the couple's subsequent descent into drug addiction.

Doubts have been expressed as to whether this is actually Michael Gothard, or someone else.

This scene in "More" was filmed in Ibiza.

Still from More from BFI booklet
Picture from the BFI booklet

Watch the brief scene here

Barbetschroeder.com

More is 1969 film. The first directorial effort by Barbet Schroeder, the film became a hit in Europe, and today has now achieved the status of “cult classic.”

Starring Mimsy Farmer and Klaus Grünberg, it is principally set on the sun-drenched Spanish island of Ibiza. A young German student, Stefan, is taking a break from his university studies. He hitchhikes to Paris for some freedom. He says he wants to be warm for a change, to have a chance to see the Sun.

While at a party in Paris, Stefan meets a free-spirited American girl named Estelle. He is instantly drawn to Estelle, and pursues her. He will even eventually follow her to the island of Ibiza. In Ibiza they slowly begin a relationship. Estelle introduces Stefan to many pleasures and freedoms, including taking drugs. Ultimately he will even try heroin, to which he eventually becomes addicted. The results are tragic.

Schroeder has said that the story of More was modelled on the myth of Icarus and Daedalus, “with Estelle representing the Sun”. The film was shot on location by the legendary cinematographer Nestor Almendros, who was to become a long-time collaborator with Schroeder.

More debuted in Cannes at the 22nd Cannes Film Festival, in May of 1969, and the U.S. premiere was in New York in August, 1969.

The film’s musical score was unique for the time, as it was written and performed by the group Pink Floyd, they would later release the music as an album …

Full review

~~

Vincent Canby: New York Times, 5 August 1969

… In "More" … drugs are simply the casual instruments of fate. Much more important — and interesting — is the manner in which Schroeder and his superb cameraman, Nestor Almendros, visualize the alternating agonies and ecstasies of a fatal love in a warm climate …

"More" … is Schroeder's film, a curiously effective dramatization of the kind of puritan ethic that demands that pleasure be paid for by pain and tragedy. It's 19th-century romance set to a rock tune on a portable cassette tape recorder.

Full review

~~

Roger Ebert: 24 November 1969

Barbet Schroeder's "More" is a weird, freaky movie about two hedonisitc kids who destroy themselves with drugs … "More" is not, however, a lecture. It's more of a celebration. The message seems to be: Sure, speed kills, but what a way to go. After some disorganized scenes in Europe, the two kids leave to spend the summer on a Mediterranean island. They lie nude in the sun (forever, it seems); get involved in a Nazi intrigue that's never made clear; experiment with pot, acid, speed, heroin and banana peels … "More," interestingly enough, never pretends to be inside the character's heads. It watches the trips from outside. That's a relief but not a solution ...

Full review

~~

New Wave Film.com

… Although dismissed by some critics as an over-indulgent celebration of drug-taking, More in fact proves to be anything but an endorsement of substance abuse. Stefan’s descent from naïve student to hopeless junkie might start out as a thrill-ride but ultimately it ends in a bleak and dusty cemetery. Like Icarus, he flies higher and higher but fails to see the dangers of the sun and comes crashing down to Earth …

Schroeder keeps his distance, maintaining an objective tone that will become a hallmark of his style in later years. He avoids getting carried away with kaleidoscopic lenses and incoherent montages, instead opting for a detached realism, not least in the graphic scenes of drug preparation which were originally cut by the censor but have now been restored.

Full review

~~

Gary Couzens: DVD Video Review, 10 February 2004

Nestor Almendros was the cinematographer. This was his third dramatic feature for the Spanish-born, Cuban-raised DP: he had previously shot some short films and La collectionneuse for Eric Rohmer and the European-based Roger Corman production The Wild Racers. Almendros and Schroeder got on well, and they worked together again on the The Valley Obscured by Clouds (similarly-themed to More, though shot in New Guinea), Maitresse and the documentaries General Idi Amin Dada and Koko the Talking Gorilla.

Even this early in his career, Almendros’s classical style of cinematography was already well developed. There’s an insistence on natural light, or at least light that has a justified source. The early scenes of the Paris streets at night time, for example, were shot with a new fast film stock and the only lighting were the available streetlights.

Artificial light that isn’t part of the scene itself is used sparingly, to augment what is there naturally. Almendros’s work adds considerably to a film, which does establish a mood … Almendros’s policy was that if something was in shadow in real life than it should be so on screen, and the last thing he wanted to do was overlight unnaturally …

Full review

~~

Horrorview

Schroeder’s debut feature “More” stands today as a visually true time capsule summary of the end of the hippie dream, beautifully photographed from natural light sources by Rohmer’s cinematographer Néstor Almendros, and made in the twilight shadow of the May ‘68 Paris uprising …

“More” is a provocative, slightly awkward, semi-improvised modern day recasting of the Icarus myth, in which the heroin-induced allure of sexual freedom and lack of responsibility represented by Estelle’s enticing gamine luminosity, attracts the addictive, sun worshipping personality of the film’s often unlike-able male protagonist like the doomed character from the Greek myth, and similarly results in his own flight from being a lost seeker on student-crowded Parisian streets towards casual crash-and-burn destruction from heroin addiction, alone and suicidal on the sparsely populated island resort so relentlessly baked by a remorseless sun.

Full review
~~
Samuel Wilson – Mondo 70

Volker Schlondorff's adaptation of Heinrich von Kleist's 19th century historical novel about a 16th century rebellion in Saxony is a relic of that strange time when Hollywood was willing to try its luck on practically anything. American producers bankrolled a German crew working in Czechoslovakia with an international cast, including some Rolling Stones hangers-on (and according to legend, Keith Richards himself as an extra) and while IMDB says it opened in the U.S. in May 1969, I can't find evidence of that initial American run, under either its original title or the alternate rubric, Man on Horseback.

It received its American TV premiere as a CBS Late Movie in December 1972. Kohlhaas doesn't seem to have played theatrically in New York until 1980, after Schlondorff had earned some notoriety as the director of The Tin Drum. In a way, it's a typical film of the 1969-71 period -- idiosyncratically ambitious and an absolute commercial disaster in America …

Like Julian Buchs' A Bullet for Sandoval, this ostensibly more prestigious production is a story in which a righteous man's revenge far exceeds his original grievance. Unlike the more stylized spaghetti western, Kohlhaas is a stark, grimy history play in the manner of the Czech directors on whose territory much of it was shot, as well as Schlondorff's "New German Cinema" movement.

The two films have in common a generic continental concern of the period with the cruelty and injustice of history, the injustice in either case guaranteeing an excess of cruelty when victims finally lash out. In Kohlhaas the excesses of rebellion take Schlondorff close to spaghetti territory, especially in the town-sacking scene, during which Stanley Meyers' score is suddenly enhanced by dissonantly anachronistic electric guitars while Michael's less reputable men run amok.

This turn of the rebellion toward viciousness and outright crime probably came as a rude surprise to those original viewers who may have seen Kohlhaas's movement building into some sort of proto-hippy youth uprising after the deserter (Michael Gothard) and his doxy (Anita Pallenberg) are introduced. What looks like an idealistic feud, and remains one in Kohlhaas's own mind, is quickly corrupted.

Because Michael himself remains incorruptible, it's perhaps inevitable that he ends up paying for everyone else's sins in a suggestively gruesome finale. That sort of finish sets apart the more artistically ambitious "history of cruelty" films from spaghetti westerns, which usually allow their antiheroes to go out, if they even lose, in a blaze of glory, with their boots on ... The history-of-cruelty films prefer to emphasize the inexorable power of Power, the inescapable embrace of injustice, even if Michael Kohlhaas is allowed the symbolic grace note of freeing the horses ...

Full review

~~

New York Times: 20 June 1980

A handsome, straightforward adaption of the 1810 novella written by Heinrich von Kleist, about a rigorously honest man named Michael Kohlhaas, a successful horse dealer who, when the courts refuse to uphold his claim against a rich landowner, takes the law into his own hands. The setting is a small German principality and the time the mid-16th century. In his pursuit of the landowner, the single-minded Kohlhaas gathers together a small armed band that first burns down the landowner's castle, sacks one city and eventually threatens the entire country. Thus Kohlhaas, first seen as the unquestioning recipient of God's favor, suddenly becomes a bandit, operating outside the laws he once invoked and which will eventually doom him.”

Full review

~~

Review from unknown source

He was discovered in Herostratus, Don Levy's very interesting film, in which he played the principal role. His spectacular performance, which alternated moments of violence with lyric sequences done in very long takes, was noticed by Volker Schlondorff, who signed him for Michael Kohlhaas.

In this intense chronicle of a peasant revolt, Michael Gothard played the part of a young soldier who joined Kohlhaas' band, but who, refusing to obey, looted for his own gain, and finally died by hanging. His truculent performance, especially in the last scenes with Anita Pallenberg, earned him a very similar role in “The Last Valley”, James Clavell's ponderous allegory.

Full review on the Michael Gothard Tribute Site
Also known as “Man on Horseback”, Michael Kohlhaas was filmed in Bavaria, (Germany), Bratislava, (Slovakia), and Moravia, (Czech Republic).

There are two versions, one English, one German.

The release date was 11 April 1969, in West Germany.

The film was nominated for the Palme D’Or at Cannes in 1969.

Michael Kohlhaas is a Kafkaesque tale based on an 1811 novella by Heinrich von Kleist, which is itself based on the 16th-century story of Hans Kohlhase.
Read more... )
Watch English version on Youtube here.

Warning: As well as scenes of violence, including sexual assaults, torture and hangings, there is some animal abuse in this film. They scare a cat very badly. Also, they needed horses that appeared to have been starved, and it seems unlikely that they just found some starving horses and made them well again.

IMDB entry

.
This was one of a long-running series of television plays, each lasting an hour, and shown on ITV.

"The Story-Teller" was shown at 8:30 pm on Monday 3 March 1969.
Written by William Corlett
Directed by Piers Haggard

The TV Times synopsis

"A strange young man gate-crashes a private party with a disturbing message for the guests. But is he worth listening to? He mustn’t be allowed to spoil the party.

The young man, Brian, has something about him that is not quite of this world. No one knows how he comes to be at the party, and his conversation is far removed from the usual brittle and frivolous chat.

Jan, already feeling a bit detached from the swinging scene because of her heavily pregnant condition, is buttonholed by the young man, and finds him increasingly difficult to ignore.

He seems to have divined from the start that she is troubled by fears she can’t quite describe, but which have much to do with the child she expects very soon.

Brian is posing all the questions that she dreads … questions she knows her child will grow up to ask."

Michael Gothard played Brian, and Frances White played Jan.

The Story-Teller picture
Picture from the TV Times.

From: “Armchair Theatre: The Lost Years” by Leonard White

"A year after his debut for us with The Scallop Shell, William Corlett said of this next play, 'I’ve tried to point out that people should sometimes take stock of themselves. I’ve known quite a few people like the characters I’ve written about, girls who worry about their right to bring children into the world, and young men who search for the truth.'

The ratings for that particular week were interesting, showing that ATV’s series The Power Game came top of the Top Twenty, beating even Coronation Street. Our own ‘difficult’ production, The Story-Teller, slipped somewhat, [presumably compared to Armchair Theatre from the week before] but still did better than The Avengers and Softly, Softly."

This particular production illustrated sharply the differing reception reported by the critics on the one hand and the viewers on the other.

The critics were at best luke-warm or ‘kind’:

Sylvia Clayton (Daily Telegraph, 04/03/1969) – 'Dramatically it was wooden …'

Michael Billington (The Times) – 'A fairly elaborate contrivance to make a simple point.'

Mary Malone (Daily Mirror) - The Night They Called for the Extras

'Reacting extras have even been known to contribute gestures if the director is feeling generous. When plot and dialogue are so racy that even the stars cannot muster enthusiasm what is a director to do but throw it to the extras – and like trained seals they reacted, a dozen glances to the left, a dozen to the right, as well trained as a chorus (or should it be a choir?) as the play ascended in a cloud of mist on to some plane beyond mortal ken.'

Nevertheless, in the TV ratings for the week, The Story-Teller was number 13 in the table, with 6.4 million viewers.

Unfortunately, according to Lisa Kerrigan at the BFI, "The Storyteller" appears not to have survived.

IMDB entry

.
This seminal film of the 1960s must have been an important break for Michael, working with many others who were rising stars, such as Dennis Waterman, Maureen Lipman, Liz Fraser and Susan George.

Michael plays Terry, a friend of the hero, Pete (Dennis Waterman).

In this gritty drama, Terry gets his girlfriend Rube (Adrienne Posta) pregnant, and she has an abortion without telling him. He has a fabulous scene confronting Rube’s friend Sylvie (Maureen Lipman) and mother Mrs McCarthy (Liz Fraser), and later dies in a motorbike accident just after getting engaged to Rube.

Release date: 13 March 1968

Review

New York Times, 31 July 2012

“The supporting roles in this movie are as strong as they were in "To Sir With Love," and several members of the cast—including Adrienne Posta were in the earlier film. It seems that in British movies of this genre one always has either a birth or an abortion, and Miss Posta—in a part that consists mainly of being a rather leaden ball of fluff, has the abortion scene. Maureen Lipman, plays Miss Posta's sister—a wise, mischievous young woman, who, but for her lack of education, would probably have become a considerably less charming intellectual. Michael Gothard plays a boy next door, who dies, twitching, in a motorcycle wreck. Other minor characters, including some real Battersea residents in a pub, are convincing, too.”

Full review

Michael was to work with Dennis Waterman again, in 1985, on an episode of “Minder” – “From Fulham with Love.”

Alfie Bass also featured in “Up the Junction”; he and Michael appeared together again on “Arthur of the Britons” in 1973.

Michael’s former girlfriend N.B., who first met him in 1984, says:

'He didn’t like watching himself. I never got him to show me any movie he had worked in. From what he told me, I think he liked the film “Up the Junction” and “Arthur of the Britons.” And the French one, “La vallée.”'

Watch Up the Junction on Youtube.

IMDB entry

.
The Times, 27 April 1968

In a lengthy review of "Herostratus", the hero is described with classic British understatement as: "... rather well played by a newcomer Michael Gothard."

~~

Michael Armstrong – Films and Filming, June 1968

The performances are so good that I cannot even start to criticise them. Michael Gothard’s Max is one of the most exciting performances from a young actor I have seen for a long time. Peter Stephens as Farson is superb. He makes the character both detestable and tragic … while Gabriella Licudi’s Clio is so rich in depth and understanding, so sensitively played that the glamour-shell which so many beautiful actresses have imposed upon them, cracked fully to reveal an actress whose emotional range and expressive means are as highly charged as they are broad.

All three performances are continually bursting from the screen only to be held back, strangely enough, by the impositions of the film itself; held back by the film’s editing style …

All the dialogue was improvised. I thought about twenty percent was scripted due to the firmness with which it is played … I find watching any improvised scene that one is aware, continually, of the poor actor’s mind working … The actors in this film almost defeat this obstacle …

The film is strange in that it’s basic fault, I feel, lies in conception and initial working methods … the basic problem with the film’s resultant distortions is that Levy applied too much conscious thought to his conception.

Full review:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

~~

Jean Delmas – Jeune Cinema, November 1968

"Farson cares for Max as one cares for stock before slaughter; he even services him with love. Farson's "secretary" Clio, who has first refused, is finally subdued by her employer, and allows herself, despite herself, to be seduced. She will make love in service, and give account of it to her boss, who wants to use it to humiliate his subject.

... through the interaction between Farson and Max, creates a confrontation between two worlds of terrifying impact. Two types of man: the impassive shark with empty eyes and ample double chin, and against him a boy exploding with vitality and insolence ...

Between the two there lies the strange fog of impossible communication, as between two totally different biological species. "You resemble more and more the corpse you will be," says Max. But the other answers him: "what is the use of your honesty and freedom?" What indeed? For in a society that can consume anything, even suicides, there is still some merchandise that will not sell (like honesty or integrity) because no one wants it.

What drives Max to suicide is despair at the indifference of others, rather than the quest for glory of the first Herostratus. 'I am doing it because no-one gives a damn. I will look down at the people passing in the street. All of a sudden someone will see me up there and they will say to themselves, "He mustn't jump!", and they will forget about themselves for a minute, and think about me.'"

Full review

~~

Richard Whitehall, 1972

"Under the greatest of difficulties, Levy has produced a dazzling film d'auteur quite unlike any other British film ever made. Long takes, through which the actors improvise brilliantly, alternate with clusters of staccato, sometimes subliminal imagery as Levy
explores the ramifications and resonances of his theme: the revolt of a young failed poet against the horrors and corruption of society, and the means he takes to make his protest known."

~~

John Rusnell Taylor – The Times

"… Tremendously ambitious … it would be difficult to imagine anything farther from the norm in British film-production …It is brilliant and it is faintly repellent, but repellent because it means to shake us up … shot spectacularly in colour, and edited with complete assurance …"

~~

Kevin Thomas - LA Times

"The key to Levy's success is his utterly inspired, exhaustive use of the camera's resources to allow us to experience the feelings of his tortured hero. Indeed, rarely has the camera, backed by extraordinary acting, been used to give such objective form to a man's inner anguish. The world of HEROSTRATUS is cold, stark metallic, expressed with an imagery as succinct and evocative as anything in Antonioni at his best.

Counterpointing it is the hell of the poet's imaginations, juxtaposing slaughterhouse eviscerations with the glamorous, dominating temptresses of the advertising media. At the same time, HEROSTRATUS is the timeless story of a youth's coming of age – of both his philosophical and sexual rites of passage. The lovemaking sequence is one of the most profoundly beautiful of its kind ever filmed."

~~

La Libre Belgique

"‘Herostratus’ is without doubt one of the great films of the year ... One does not know what to admire most in this film. The direction, the sets, the acting or the scenario. The psychological truth of the principal characters, the intensity of the dramatization, the handling of the actors and the originality and vigour of the cinematographic style are perfect."

~~

Pierre Apruxine – Arts and Artists

"‘Herostratus’ rises far above the experimental and directly ranks among the masterpieces of the Seventh Art."


Richard Mayne – The Critics, BBC

"… a fantastic assault on one’s visual sensibilities … I was absolutely engulfed by this film and would like everybody to know it."

~~

Lorenza Mazetti – Via Nuova, Rome

"… this disturbing piece of work … which rides so close to the quick … plunging us … into the neurotic world of impotence and frustration lived by the young today …"

~~

Margaret Hinxman – Sunday Telegraph

"… terrifying and moving …"

~~

Molly Plowright – Glasgow Herald

"… the most astonishing film of my experience – right on the frontier of cinema as we so far know it … the visuals are more beautiful and the content more terrible than anything else I have seen, and the steady stare into the human mind makes the Godard and the Losey look like the fumbling side glances they actually are."


Also Out - The Guardian, 22 August 2009

"The visually impressive Herostratus is a more arty and oblique affair that takes its own sweet time telling a tale of a poet, the great Michael Gothard from Ken Russell's The Devils, who markets his planned suicide into a media event, diluting the "purity" of taking one's own life. A young Helen Mirren also stars. The extras are particularly fine, with short films and interviews scattered amongst the three titles, all given the full restoration treatment."

~~

LA Times

"In this coruscating work, Michael Gothard astonishes as the eponymous young poet who hires a PR firm to turn his planned suicide into a media spectacle. Bursting with psychological and aesthetic urgency, Herostratus proved as prescient about the failure of the ’60s counterculture, as it was inspirational for the likes of Stanley Kubrick and Nicolas Roeg."

Full review

~~

Amnon Buchbinder - You CAN Get Out: Herostratus Now, 3 September 2009

"The finished copies arrived in my hands yesterday and I have to say the BFI did a really nice job! From the striking and perfectly emblematic cover (featuring Don’s widow, the remarkable Ines Levy who collaborated with him in a variety of ways, including appearing in all his films and playing a number of visually striking roles in Herostratus), to the booklet which not only covers all of the films on the disc but offers a touching piece about Herostratus‘ lead, Michael Gothard (never mind the small number of really good films he did, like Ken Russell’s The Devils; try watching a piece of crap like Scream and Scream Again and see how the film comes to life when Gothard appears).”
Read more... )
Full discussion

~~

Jesse P. Finnegan - Foreign Pick: Film Comment, Mar/Apr 2010

“Utterly luminous, occasionally brutal, it concerns one angry — or possibly mad — young man (the gifted, ghoulish Michael Gothard), who offers London’s biggest ad agency the chance to "handle" his public suicide … Now, recovered after 40-odd years, Herostratus seems less like a lost artifact than a votive offering, left purposefully to be found by a future generation of audiences.”

~~

BFI Monthly Film Bulletin, 1968

"While the title of his film suggests a critical attitude to its hero ..., Levy's techniques betray a strong affinity with him. Max expresses his rage and contempt for society by smashing up large pieces of it with an axe. Levy attacks it with equal vigour, making analogies (inevitably through inter-cutting) between a stripper's body and the carcasses in an abattoir, between sex-oriented advertising and Hitlerian rhetoric ...

Max, expressing himself only through destruction, becomes the embodiment of the society he despises and rejects; trapped within it, he is - as Farson tells him - good only for "tearing down other people's work". His destructiveness is contagious. He causes the photographer's death and turns Clio into a mirror image of himself, making her conscious of the trap she lives in. Yet the camera uncritically caresses every muscle of his body ...

Still, despite its all too obvious faults, Herostratus remains a passionate, exhausting and disturbing film. The photography ... has an occasional poetic beauty - particularly in the sequence beside the railway bridges where Max finds a child nursing a doll in an abandoned van; and there is some remarkable use of colour, notably in Max's room, all black and white except for the colour of his own skin and the pink plastic flesh of a hanging doll."

Full review

~~

Ian Jane - Rock! Shock! Pop!

"The plot of the film follows a young man named Max (Michael Gothard) who finds an advertising executive named Farson (Peter Stephens) in order to convince him to have his impending suicide broadcast as a sort of protest against where society is going. Max intends to jump off of a skyscraper and he wants everyone to see it.

As Max and Farson go about setting this all up, Max falls for a woman named Clio (Gabriella Licudi) and of course, Max then changes his mind about all of this, but by this point it’s too late, he’s set the train in motion and now he has to ride it out.

This is a film set in the unfortunately all too real society in which its various citizens care only about themselves. The world that surrounds Max has lead to his understandable narcissism and jaded view and his suicide is initially thought of as his way of essentially flipping us all off on the way out.

Bits of stock footage and symbolism hint at a time when the world wore a more united front but by the time it all comes around to our protagonist, it’s obvious that all of that has changed and not necessarily for the better interests of anyone. This is a subject and point of view that’s been exploited plenty of times since and quite often with better and more interesting results than Levy manages to accomplish here, but you’ve got to give the film credit for getting there before the likes of better known and more popularly embraced filmmakers like Herzog and Kubrick.

It’s interesting that Gothard, who hung himself in 1992 after a long battle with depression, plays the suicidal Max. It’s also interesting that the film is titled Herostratus, named after the ancient Greek fable in which a man destroys the most beautiful temple in the land in hopes of achieving fame only to wind up executed, his name forbidden to be uttered even after his death."

[Presumably the interest in the title lies in the relative obscurity to which Michael Gothard has been consigned since his death.]

Full review

~~

Slarek - Cine Outsider

"The real surprise is that despite of the film's experimental structure and Max's air of self-importance, we actually start to care for him and his fate, thanks largely to a captivating central performance from Michael Gothard and the shifting balance of power, as the destructive, cocksure and playful anarchist of the early scenes is transformed by big business into a ineffectual commodity whose only purpose is take his own life at the prescribed place and time.

So browbeaten and humiliated is he by then that he keeps the appointment, by which point he has become a figure of pity, shuffling around the rooftop and huddled against the cold while unfeeling marketing man Pointer prepares his camera and barks at him to jump from the chosen side.

This is one of those scenes that CG would nowadays have neutered, as actor Michael Gothard stands and even struggles with his fellow performer Antony Paul close enough to a genuinely lethal drop to catapult my stomach into my mouth and make me wonder all involved had taken leave of their senses."

Full review

~~

Ithankyou - Don Levy Hero! 25 January 2011

"... Herostratus ... must rank as one of the true, and most challenging, classics of 1960s British film. The film uses an unconventional narrative structure, mixed with beautifully judged sound and cinematography, to create an assault on our senses and our complacency: as a society and as individual viewers. The film's main actors Michael Gothard and Gabriella Licudi, gave their all and it shows in the unflinching honesty of the film."

Full review

~~

Other reviews:

20 August 2009 review on Movie Talk by Peter Fuller

February 2010 review on The Celluloid Highway


Thanks to Tzaratango and Belsizepark for finding many of these reviews.

.
'The Machine Stops' won the first prize at the Fifth Festival Internazionale del Film di Fantascienza (International Science Fiction Film Festival) in Trieste, on 17 July 1967. This was the first time the BBC had entered for the Festival.

From “The Times” the following day:

Trieste as a port for science-fiction films

… Science-fiction film – or sci-fi, as it is lovingly known – as yet bears no definition. At one end it is the monsters and irrational fears that still lurk in the shadows of our minds, and at the other serious essays into the spiritual, moral and psychological effects of space on man.

The festival would like to get away from the bloodcurdlers altogether, but at present there is not enough of the other kind …

So during the past week we have seen what you could call a series of competent “B” pictures (nothing derogatory here) but with a few outstanding moments. One of these, most hearteningly, was The Machine Stops, which won the first prize for Britain … This piece of Wellsian stature runs for 50 minutes and was produced by Irene Shubik and directed by Philip Saville for B.B.C. television; when first shown it got largely overlooked.

Based on a tale written by E.M.Forster 40 years ago, and even more chilling in its possibilities today, it presupposes that a giant machine has taken over all human life. They live within its pale caverns, emotions and physical strength atrophying, while everything – including a sympathetic word or medical attention – is supplied by the touch of a button. Then the machine becomes so complex there is no one left who can understand it, and it begins to stop.

Yvonne Mitchell gives a beautifully judged performance as the mother of a throwback, a boy who wants to return to the world outside “and entrust myself to the mercy of God.” As the son Michael Gothard is able and promising in his first television part. A haunting film – and a deeply disturbing one.

Molly Plowright
"The Machine Stops" was repeated, shown this time on BBC1, where it would have been seen by a much wider audience.

From the Radio Times: 13 April 1967 (BBC1 Repeat)

Yvonne Mitchell stars in the first of this series of science-fiction stories repeated from BBC-2

THE MACHINE STOPS – 11pm BBC1
SCIENCE fiction is in. Sales of paper-back and hard-back books are booming. More and more science-fiction stories are reaching the cinema screen as a growing number of writers, on both sides of the Atlantic, find that an imaginative leap into the future is an ideal device for putting across their comments, witty or serious, on life today.
In the last two years, BBC 2 has helped to satisfy this new appetite with Out of the Unknown, a series of original plays and dramatisations of popular stories.
Read more... )
Watch The Machine Stops on Youtube.

It must have had yet another showing, because it was described in The Times, on 18 July 1967:

"As the son, Michael Gothard is able and promising in his first television part."
“About a year and a half passed between my first important film part in Herostratus and my next big break – Out of the Unknown – a television series.”
(From Petticoat interview 6 October 1973)

Michael Gothard as 'Kuno'

The photo is thought to have been taken in 1966 by John Timbers.
Read more... )
Award

This adaptation of 'The Machine Stops' won the first prize at the Fifth Festival Internazionale del Film di Fantascienza (International Science Fiction Film Festival) in Trieste, on 17 July 1967.

Watch The Machine Stops on Youtube.

IMDB entry

Thanks to Natchris for finding the Radio Times references.
From: "The Stage" September 15 1966

"Theatrescope are to present 'A Pretty Row of Pretty Ribbons' by Brian Gear at the Little Theatre Club, Garrick Yard, from Monday to Friday of next week at 12:15 and 1:15.

The play was commissioned by BBC TV, and has been shown on the Western Region.

Michael Gothard and Lyndell Rowe are to appear in the Little production."

From a review in The Times, 20 Sept 1966

"This... is the best thing Theatrescope have presented here for some time, and it is well worth a visit."

"The two performances by Miss Lyndell Rowe and Mr Michael Gothard were neat and well turned out."
Excerpts from "On location" report on "Herostratus."

... Levy spent a good deal of his time testing artists: having decided that this was to be a film developed entirely by improvisation around a firm narrative, he wanted a particularly malleable and intense type of player. After the extensive improvised auditions, he settled on Michael Gothard, then a drama student, for the lead …

Main shooting took place between August 1964 and March 1965 in a variety of London locations (there is no studio work), including the Royal College of Art, Regent Street Polytechnic and a slum house in Paddington …

Herostratus Sight and Sound, Summer 1965d

[Levy] “The film has several long takes up to four minutes. Some people are afraid of these, but I feel I need them here as the actors require space to reveal their deepest states of intensity ...

We also wanted to re-create the broken syntax of real speech: therefore, we never used any fixed dialogue or detailed action and the players never saw a script. Details of characterisations and dialogue were all developed during a very complicated process of improvisation and recall, designed to produce through various psychological methods a peculiar emotional state whereby the acting became behaviour. The improvisation was not based on their own characters … but was used as a technique for freeing and distorting action and reaction and enveloping the characters of the play.”

Mr. Levy added that sometimes the actors appeared to be in a state akin to hypnosis, during which they were able to operate by drawing directly on the subconscious. In connection with one scene I saw where the girl, posed in the corner of the screen against a white wall, goes into a long hysterical outburst, he commented: “The actress was not informed of the end result required. The scene was gradually built up by a violent actress-character conflict during the recall and preparation which took about two hours. When it finally occurred, two members of the unit were not able to watch and one was unable to work.”

I asked Mr Levy if he was generally satisfied with the way things had gone. “… The basic idea was certainly accomplished and, although some extremely startling things have happened, these have only opened the way to vast unexplored spaces both in film-making and drama."

Full review:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

It is interesting to note that despite these “vast unexplored spaces” awaiting him, Don Levy did not make another film for public viewing.


Thanks to Belsizepark for finding this review.

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