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Wholly Communion (1965)

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A short film documenting what was referred to as "The International Poetry Incarnation". It was billed as Great Britain's first full-scale "happening", with the world's leading Beat poets ... See full summary »


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A short film documenting what was referred to as "The International Poetry Incarnation". It was billed as Great Britain's first full-scale "happening", with the world's leading Beat poets together under one roof at the Royal Albert Hall on June 11, 1965, for an evening of near-hallucinatory revelry. It came to be seen as one of the cultural high points of the Swinging Sixties. Written by King Of Fuh

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Plot Keywords:

poetry | independent film | See All (2) »


Documentary | Short





Release Date:

16 December 2007 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Sainte communion  »

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Historical record of important cultural event
6 August 2006 | by (London, England) – See all my reviews

This film is of importance more for its historical value than for its content. What it represents is the only footage of the 1965 Poetry Olympics held at the Albert Hall which turned out to be the catalyst for bringing the hippie counter-culture into being in the UK. Some 5,000 or so freaks, beatniks, hippies and social outcasts of all persuasions turned up en masse, looked at each other, and realised that they were not alone. From this grew the International Times and the whole notion of an underground press, the squatting movement, the re-birth of English Anarchism (as opposed to anarchy) and all sorts of weird and wonderful (or not so wonderful) "happenings" that are nowadays usually lumped under the umbrella of Swinging 60s.

The actual content of the film leaves much to be desired: shaky hand-held camera on poets whose material, although worthy, was perhaps unequal to the task. Poets are by nature a rather sensitive breed, and for them to suddenly find themselves placed in the role of spokesmen for an entirely new and unprecedented cultural phenomenon must have been more than a little unsettling. Allen Ginsberg was the star of the show, but by the time he got to perform he was drunk. Consequently he comes across as a raving, drooling madman. Maybe this was his intention. But his poetry suffers as a consequence. Harry Fainlight is interrupted by a "lovable idiot" - which is a shame, as, visibly shaken, his performance does not recover. Adrian Mitchell rather steals the show with his unforgettable performance of an anti-Vietnam poem. Michael Horowitz also performs well.

For students of the period this is essential viewing.

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