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 Crow - Wyndham Price 2016 Film Review

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Enlightened Viewer

PostSubject: Crow - Wyndham Price 2016 Film Review   Sun Sep 18, 2016 2:39 pm

Crow, directed by Wyndham Price with a screenplay by Tom Rhys Harries based on Price’s stage play, uses a mixture of Druid, Native American and Celtic folklore.  It begins with the egotistical, arrogant Tucker (Nick Moran) who wishes to build a mansion to cement his legacy in some woodland he has bought.  Yet the woods are a sacred Druid site, overseen by the remains of a clan who are residing in the rundown farmhouse close to the forest.  As Tucker begins to clear ground and trees, the air spirit Crow, protector of the woods, begins to commune with a boy in the clan (Tom Rhys Harris).  When the boy is amongst the trees, he can hear both Crow’s voice and that of her emissary (Terrence Stamp).  As his time in the woods lengthens the boy is infused with power, becoming Crow’s warrior.  Tucker’s wish to develop a home within this sacred site soon becomes a battle between the forces of nature and commerce, with both the forest and the boy playing an active role.  

One aspect of Crow which I enjoyed was the poetic feel to the narrative and the way different points in time came together.  The viewer first meets the boy when the clan is travelling.  His father (Danny Webb) is aware the boy is different and is being called towards the sacred woods.  This is where the clan head, taking up residence in the farm house.  Initially, the viewer is presented with three retrospective time frames; prior to arrival at the farmhouse, in residence at the farmhouse and the boy in the woods as Crow begins to ready her warrior for the upcoming battle.  The fourth time frame is the film’s present, which is divided between three main perspectives; Tucker, his wife Alicia (Elen Rhys) and the boy’s.  The differences between these time frames and perspectives are clear and distinct.  For instance, it’s easy to follow the boy’s timeline due to changes in his appearance and demeanour.  These multiple lines interweave to produce a singular thread which juxtapositions desecration and protectionist survival.  There is one line in Crow which sums this position up perfectly, “You can’t own land.  Land owns you.”.

Parts of the film relating to the spirit Crow are narrated by Terrence Stamp.  In a number of ways, this was a brave step as not all audience members will see the poetic nature of this and its integration with the strands of folklore used.  I consider that there is cinematic artistry in this film which supports how the character of Crow is explored.  Many of the camera shots are stunning, framing is excellent and the film is smoothly edited into a visually captivating whole.  As Crow’s spokesperson, Terrence Stamp is terrific.  He gives gravitas to the role and his cloak of black feathers is otherworldly enough to work.  Plus, he’s frequently filmed from below amongst tree branches giving the sense of him being at one with birds and the air.  Another otherworldly aspect is how the boy listens to and communes with Crow, how this affects his transformation into her warrior, also what happens to him towards the end of the film.  Tom Rhys Harris gives an excellent performance as the boy whose strange nature is at odds with society’s mores even in a clan environment.  His physical portrayal of how he becomes Crow’s warrior is well realised.  The staged shots where Crow’s warrior sits upon his woodland throne illustrate both this and the visual artistry which resides in the film.

To sum up, Crow is an artistic attempt to flesh out and place Wyndham Prices’ play on the big screen.  In my opinion, it works.  Not once did my attention wander whilst I was watching this.  I loved the poetic flow of the narrative, the slippage between different points in time were easy to identify.  Performances were solid; I liked how manner of speech, clothing and dialogue drew very clear lines in the sand about difference.  I found the low key special effects worked well within the framework of the story.  Set design and attention to detail was good.  Finally, the camera shots and editing worked with all the other aspects to produce a film which, in my opinion, borders on arthouse.  Crow is a different cinematic experience and is definitely more than the sum of its parts.  Catch it if you can.
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