Thursday, December 19, 2013

'Phantasmagorical with an F': Humphrey Jennings meets Ben Wheatley

'Phantasmagorical with an F' - Humphrey Jennings meets Ben Wheatley from BF Taylor on Vimeo.

This is a low resolution response to Ben Wheatley's 2013 A Field in England created for educational purposes.

Taking its cue from the wonderful audiovisual explorations of Humphrey Jennings, most notably Listen to Britain (1942), this essay draws upon personal childhood 'voices' and uses them to create a new soundtrack to one of the key sequences in Wheatley's film. This sequence not only beautifully evokes similar images of English fields captured by Jennings in his films but also necessarily reminds us of the audiovisual relationship between the countryside and the Occult - a very British relationship which this new soundtrack aims to present anew.

This essay's presenting of this relationship is further inspired by Jennings and his desire to 'present' what he called an 'imaginative history'. As Jennings continues:
'I say 'present', not describe or analyze, because the imagination is a function of man whose traces are more delicate to handle than the facts and events and ideas of which history is usually constructed. This function I believe is found active in the areas of the arts, of poetry and of religion - but is not necessarily confined to them or present in all their manifestations. I prefer not to try to define its limits at the moment but to leave the reader to agree or not with the evidence which I shall place before him. I present it by means of what I call images.'
Humphrey Jennings, Introduction to Pandaemonium (c.1948) quoted in The Documentary Film Movement: An Anthology (ed.) Ian Aitken (Edinburgh University Press, 1998), p. 231