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'D' is a chronicler of a society in chaos, who looks down on the marauding gangs, and rubbish-strewn streets from the fortress prison of her flat. Buffeted by inner dreams and longings, D finds an alternative world by stepping through the wall of her flat, like Alice through the Looking Glass. Here it is Victorian England, the bosom of an unsettled family, harbingers, perhaps, of the decay to come. She flits between the two sides of her double life, always observing, never participating, and watches as her protégé, Emily, becomes involved with vagrants' leader Gerald and their efforts to control the violent scavengers fail. Written by
The character of Emily Mary Cartwright (Leonie Mellinger) was based on Emily Diski according to her. Diski lived with source authoress Doris Lessing for a number of years when she was an adolescent. See more »
I found the film immensely interesting. You see the decay of urbanity from the eyes of a woman ('D') hiding in her bastion of civilisation, a council flat. Her impregnable retreat is suddenly breached by the intrusion of two factors, the imposition on her by an unnamed authority of an orphan called Emily, and her sudden realisation that beyond the wall lies the past? the future? or perhaps an alternative world told through the various incarnations of a house she visits as an unseen entity.
While the brutalised orphans of the streets outside seem to be beginning to supplant the authorities and are accelerating the end of the world. D realises through her wall, that the condition of her society is not new. Society grows from strict disciplinarian routes, and when achieved embarks on a decaying relaxation of morals which inevitably ends in the collapse of society. Those that are necessary to rebuild society are not necessarily nice people, merely essential, thus we arrive at the Gerald character. Eventually Emily and Gerald rescue the savage (troglodyte) children of the subways, and with the help of D and the wall, take them to a new Eden, where the children will be able to begin a new society starting from caveman.
It is obvious because of the cannibalistic nature of the children that Gerald, Emily and D will not survive this process, but their action is essential to build anew, and the children will begin without the memory of their former civilisation's decay. Thus we are brought from the end of the world, to the beginning of a new world for the orphans of the old. Most people believed that the collapse of D's world was a prediction of the collapse of our own, but perhaps our world is actually the one behind the wall. That is up to you.
This is an intensely moving novel produced by a woman of feeling who had witnessed the brutalisation and savagery of war at close hand and understood the nature of the fall of society. Not an action film, but a masterpiece that many will not understand because of its intensely philosophical nature.
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