Archive for April 12th, 2018

by Adam Ferenz

Frederick Delius was an English composer who lived from 1862-1934. His final years were spent with him largely in a state of invalidity. Song of Summer is named after a tone poem for orchestra, completed in 1931, by Delius, during the final six years of his life, the period covered in the film, which focuses on the relationship between Delius and his amanuensis, Eric Fenby. At the time Fenby came to work for Delius, the great composer was living south of Paris with his wife, Jelka, and suffering the consequences of tertiary syphilis. Director Ken Russell had done several other works for the BBC series Omnibus, and would do a few more, before moving on to the big screen, but he considered this film his very best, a film he would not change a single thing about. It is hard to argue with the man.

Song of Summer is a deceptively complex film, which in its presentation becomes Delius’s poem. That this film has a phenomenal score, completely consisting of Delius and Fenby’s work, is a big plus, as is Russell’s use of black and white cinematography to mask the budget shortcomings. He can be forgiven if the trip up a mountain late in the film seems more like a trip through the hills of Scotland, but such is the case when dealing with a 60’s BBC budget. Instead, the film relies on a sharp script, inventive direction that evokes the essence of its subject’s work, and three superb performances, with Maureen Pryor as Jelka, Christopher Gable as Fenby and Max Adrian as Delius. Here, Fenby and Delius are not friends from the start but there is a trust, and yet always a tension, for Delius was a difficult man, and his condition did not lend him a quiet temper, nor did his disinclination to religion, the opposite of the devoutly catholic Fenby. Indeed, according to Music Web International, Fenby is shown having a crisis of faith after finding the parish priest making love to a girl, an episode which Fenby had told to Russell in what he believed was the strictest confidence. (more…)

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by Jared Dec and Trevor D. Nigg

Another magisterial podcast on a towering figure in world cinema by Wonders in the Dark’s Dynamic Duo.

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