THE GUILLOTINE; No 25: LINDSAY ANDERSON
Twentieth-Century Classics That Won't Last
Sunday 27 June 1999
As a film director, he was one of the most prominent of the angry young men (and they were all men) of the Free Cinema movement who sought to recharge the medium's batteries with new and primarily working-class settings, characters and themes. Like those German anarchists, however, mocked by Lenin because they would conscientiously buy platform tickets before blowing up a railway station, most of the British cinema's self-styled revolutionaries covered themselves by adapting tried and tested plays or novels (A Kind of Loving, Billy Liar, A Taste of Honey, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, Tom Jones, etc).
Anderson himself was of a more independent cast of mind. His first film apart, This Sporting Life, the few he completed were directly conceived for the screen. Yet they, too, conveyed meaning through dialogue and performance rather than filmic imagery; and no matter that If ... was made 33 years after Jean Vigo's Zero de conduite, its acknowledged model, it's the latter which strikes us today as the more subversive and, in a sense, younger work. By the time Anderson filmed Britannia Hospital, yet another satire "tilting at" the Establishment, he had become little more than a third, upmarket Boulting brother.
Another point may be raised. Notoriously sensitive to criticism, Anderson was in his lifetime something of a terrorist. He would publicly berate reviewers whose enthusiasm for his films had been, in his hardly disinterested opinion, insufficient to the occasion and would even go so far as to ring up newspaper editors and insist that they be sacked. It's perhaps not by chance, then, that his reputation started to decline almost from the moment he died, and there may be a lesson here for all artists determined to control the way their work is received: no one can network from beyond the grave.
Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'music
Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Mario Balotelli: Staff at arson-hit Manchester Dogs' Home convinced Liverpool striker is behind five-figure donation
- 2 Friends 20th anniversary: Alison Jackson photographs reunited cast
- 3 A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
- 4 The response to my Pizza Express review has been overwhelming, and taught me a lot about journalism
- 5 Free U2 album: How the most generous giveaway in music history turned into a PR disaster
Game of Thrones star Maisie Williams cast in Channel 4 drama about cyber bullying
Jennifer Lopez and Iggy Azalea's 'Booty' music video is just a load of butts
Friends 20th anniversary: Alison Jackson photographs reunited cast
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written
The Walking Dead season 5 synopsis: Spoilers and existential questions revealed
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
Scottish referendum results: Cross-party consensus collapses amid Tory-Labour spat on the 'English question'
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Russia freezes Ukraine into submission: Kiev admits country doesn't have enough fuel for winter
Scottish independence: The Queen breaks silence on referendum debate – as think tank warns of £14bn black hole if Scotland votes Yes