A short comedy by Mike Leigh about the romance between a young woman and a man who communicates only through jokes and humor. The story is told as a series of very short vignettes between ... See full summary »
Sylvestra Le Touzel,
23rd Earl of Leete:
[on his father]
He hanged himself from this tree. It was three days before he was found and the sad thing is no one have missed him. Oh look, some of the rope is still here. It's rather gruesome.
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Purporting to be a documentary on a member of the British landed gentry, the 23rd Earl of Leete himself tells his august (and not so) family's story, stretching back to the Norman conquest.
A Sense of History mimics a peculiarly English documentary style with beautiful subtlety- the camera angles and movement as the Earl shows the viewer his estate, his Attenborough-like aristocratic tones and speech mannerisms, his smoothly flowing dialogue in contrast to and yet in effective tandem with numerous cuts to various parts of his woodland estate significant to his story. Even the Earl's encounter with one of his awkwardly deferential workers reinforces a particular sense of reported social reality.
At the introduction, with the Earl walking through a ruined arch and in an oh-so BBC tone talking about how he has always had a "sense of history" (exit right Earl, focus moves up to arch, cue title, trumpet intro music), it's difficult to tell that you are not watching a genuine documentary.
Without giving away the story, the audience is gradually made aware that all is not what it seems. This is achieved so cleverly and artfully, employing all the conventions of the "serious English documentary" that every successive cut to a new morsel of narration and revelation adds cumulatively to audience enjoyment without requiring an unbelievable climax. The tag after the credits puts the finishing touch on a truly marvellous short film. See it if you can.
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