The Falling and Ambiguity

I saw the new British film ‘The Falling’ the other night, which was by and large a worthwhile endeavour. In very general terms the film is about a mass fainting outbreak at an all girls school in the late 60s. Whether or not this outbreak is genuine illness or a self conscious act of rebellion is one thrust of the film, but there’s more going on too.

You see, the main character and possible ringleader of this outbreak (played by Maisie Williams of Game of Thrones fame) has a brother. He wears a pentagram ring, suggests they do some ‘magick, with a ‘k” and talks about ley lines running under the school. Add to that a kind of mystical sensitivity about the filmaking, from the drowsy music to lingering shots of the verdant parkland around the school and ritual-looking acts performed by some of the girls. Almost subliminally flashed images hark back to other depictions of magic like Kenneth Anger or more recently A Field In England and even Interstellar (which I mentioned here)

Is this all psychological, is it illness or is it magick? The film juggles this ambiguity very well, although for me it drifts away towards the end.

Rather strangely, it put me in kind of a very different film which would have been improved a great deal by some ambiguity: Season of the Witch starring Nicolas Cage.

Yeah, it’s not quite the same kind of thing, but bear with me! Nic Cage and Ron Perlman are former Templars tasked with transporting a supposed witch across medieval Europe to stand trial. Don’t ask, it makes perfect sense. Anyway, en route Nic starts to wonder whether this waif really is a witch at all or whether she’s simply being persecuted. Over the next few scenes our travelling band are variously set upon or near thwarted by the elements, only to somehow triumph each time with the help of the witch’s magical powers. Oh and she also warps one of the party’s mind and makes him kill a chum. So yeah, witch not waif.

Each time, our Nic is otherwise engaged and doesn’t see what happened. I can’t help but wonder if there is an earlier draft of the screenplay where we as the audience are kept guessing too. I think it would have made for a much more interesting film. Still would have been rubbish, but more interesting rubbish perhaps.

I love fantastical stuff in pretty much any medium, and am more than happy when weirdness is confronted head-on. That said, there’s a special power that can come from ambiguity when it’s handled well. The Falling did just that for the most part and could be worth a watch for that reason alone. The Craft it ain’t! Do you have any favourites that leave us in the dark as to what’s really going on?


London Book Fair 2015

Or, A Drop In The Ocean

One of the earliest posts on this blog was after my sojourn to last year’s London Book Fair.  Well it’s that time of year again, only this time I popped along to all three days rather than just the one.

Held at Kensington Olympia, it was a wonderfully maze-like expanse of beautiful beautiful books (none of which were on sale to the likes of me – it’s an industry fair after all). Here’s the best cover I spotted:

Enough from Burt? Never!

Enough from Burt? Never!

Like last year, there was a dedicated ‘Author’ area slap bang in the middle of the labyrinth (where the minotaurs roam). Each day saw a series of 45 minute seminars and panel discussions on topics like tips on getting an agent, success stories from published authors and more general discussions on how authors are changing their writing to suit newer forms like Twitter.

I only went to the seminars I was most interested in, but that was still a hefty ten or eleven. There was a little variation in quality, but on the whole they were very well presented. I found a couple were either slightly mis-named (or perhaps they veered off topic at the beginning and didn’t recover) and one or two came across as marketing pitches for one or other e-publishing services. I suppose that’s the nature of this kind of event. There were great talks from representatives from The Bookseller and various agents, publishers, journalists and booksellers though, and served to give an interesting overview of a few different parts of the industry alongside decent practical advice.

I’m sure there were plenty of opportunities to network with other authors – just by hanging around and chatting with others at the Author HQ for example – but being an obtuse sort I used gaps in my schedule of seminars to meet up with a couple of editors I know of old and take foolish selfies.

A professional demeanor is key at these events.

A professional demeanor is key at these events.

Worth going to? Absolutely. I think a lot of what was covered in the seminars needs further research and, arguably, could be gleaned by decent research online in the first place, but I can put a few industry names to faces now, met a couple of other novice authors I’m going to try and keep in touch with and drank a fair bit of (pretty decent by exhibition centre standards) coffee. A good rebaptism into the publishing world, having had a couple of months of self-doubt. I’ll come on to that next time, but did you go to the Book Fair? Anything stand out particularly for you?