A historical television series that focuses on the impact of the Underground Railroad during the 19th century, "Underground" offers viewers a message of social progress that's just as relevant in 2017.
Not a lot of substance but an interesting snapshot of a lost community
Since he saw Durham's annual miners gala, director John Irvin was fascinated by it. Having been awarded £750 by the BFI he set out to make this film, which captures the day from the very start of the day until the very close. It was shot by several cameras over one day and edited together over several months before being sold to the BBC. On interesting bit of trivia that I learnt while trying to get information together to get this film added to IMDb was that the film caused local controversy when it was screened by the BBC in 1964. The miners took objection to the way they were depicted in some scenes and the matter went to the House of Commons and resulted in the BBC not screening it again for another year.
This aside the film is reasonable interesting in how it captures the time and place. Like many of the Free Cinema films, the focus is on showing a reality and telling a story that way as opposed to having a narrative with a definite start, middle and end. That said, the film is fairly "traditional" in its structure because it does move forward with time, which is not always the way with the other Free Cinema films I have seen recently. Something else that was more obvious was that, although it took the working class as its theme (like several of the Free Cinema films did), it did not paint them in a softened way. Contrast this with Grigsby's Tomorrow's Saturday, which is much more of a warm salute to a working class community and you will see what I mean. Taking the issue to Parliament is perhaps an overreaction but I can see why they did because in the film they lie drunken in the street and leave behind them huge amounts of litter and fat children. The fact that the film is capturing rather than depicting is lost on them I suppose.
An interesting film then for its fuss and its links to the Free Cinema films while also differing from them to some degree. Not a lot of substance but an interesting snapshot of a lost community.
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