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Forever Green (1989)
A perfect escape to the country
I think this show set out to be what it was - an escape to the country - and did it perfectly.
In that great tradition of ITV dramas (think Inspector Morse and Midsomer Murders) you could watch this purely for the relaxation that the choice of scenes and photography brings. The actors aren't overbearing, all of them instantly likable and normal decent people. It's all a real antidote for our times when there is hardly a plot that isn't driven by people being at their worst, this is unashamed perfectly good natured life. It's a journey into a nicer world for a change, and one that still manages to avoid looking corny all these years later. In fact it's hardly aged at all, the scenery still looks the same of course and as they're either driving classic cars or the occasional Land Rover there is little to age it.
The theme tune is perfectly suited, by the end of it I'm tuned in to sit back for 60 minutes of pure relaxation.
John Alderton and Pauline Collins are just perfect for the roles and the roles really seem perfect for them, you can easily believe it's their real family. I thought the young Daisy Bates was also excellent in this, I wish we could see her more often these days.
Honestly for what it is, and I'm sure it was never meant to be anything else, I really can't fault this series. 10/10
La piste (2006)
Very good in his style of film making.
Gary, a passionate and romantic geologist had quit his job to stay on in Namibia, spellbound by the world he had been exploring for a mining company. He met his wife there and they brought up a daughter in a house in the bush, living side by side with the Himba people who took them as of their own.
Years later something happened that broke the spell for his wife and she drove them to return to Europe. But Gary was compelled to go back, torn away from his family by the spell that never left him. "His body journeyed but his spirit never moved, sooner or later the question hits us, how far can we betray ourselves so not to lose the ones we love?" His young daughter could only see her loss and 3 years later at 14 follows him back to the desert to find out why he left her.
Just as they were getting to know each other he makes a fated small plane journey over the bush. Trapped in a gorge by fierce winds he has no choice but to fly down in the opposite direction to where rescuers would expect him to be.
Rescuers cannot find his plane but his daughter thinks she knows where he is and sets out with the help of old family friend Kadjiro, a Himba man on a journey of discovery across the desert and the past.
------- Possible mild spoilers below
Valli plays quite deftly with our preconceptions. Leads us down a few common routes before exposing the commonality of humans anywhere. He knows humanity enough to know we're all the same and so rare when stereotypes are such a safe box office bet, here we have a film maker showing us people with the stereotypes removed. This is far from gritty realism though, but also it is not fake. He shows a romantic vision, just like the very real beautiful landscapes he chooses to show us, he portrays the best of the humanity from even the most desperate of characters there.
I suspect the relatively low rating this film is getting is at least partly from doubting it's realism. For anyone doubting the beauty portrayed of the land trust me it really does exist without CGI in this world, if you search for places we have hardly been. If you doubt the way the diamonds were there just think of all the other treasures laid out across this earth, for us to pick up and use or trade. If you doubt people like Gary really exist you really need to see more of the world and discover them, they are out there. A classic romantic hero in the French imagination but not so well understood by others i think. Surely Valli is one himself.
I found this film quite captivating, clever on a number of levels and beautiful in many ways. Definitely deserving of more than the ratings given here so far. I think Valli should be proud of his achievement.