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The epic battle for the future of mankind is fought between an angel of light and an angel of death.


Alastair Reid


David Rudkin


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Hywel Bennett ... Gideon Harlax
Dinah Stabb Dinah Stabb ... Gwen Meredith
Dan O'Herlihy ... Albrecht Von Drachenfels
Sting ... Helith
Anthony Steel ... Tristram Guise
Roland Curram ... Asrael
Margaret Whiting Margaret Whiting ... Laura Guise
Ian Redford Ian Redford ... Jed Thaxter
Mary Ellen Ray Mary Ellen Ray ... Sonia
Cornelius Garrett Cornelius Garrett ... Pastor
Siv Borg Siv Borg ... Pastor's Wife
Frode Berg Frode Berg ... Pastor's Son
Ingrid Pitt ... Hitchcock Blonde
Daniel Day-Lewis ... Library Student
Sylvia Coleridge ... Library Scholar


Paranormal novelist Gideon Harlax is drawn into a battle between the forces of good, represented by alien angel Helith, and the forces of evil, represented by Helith's evil brother Asrael. Ranging from Oxford to Denmark, a North Sea ferry to an alien planet, Harlax unwittingly becomes part of an ancient plot that may result in the destruction of Earth... Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Drama | Sci-Fi | Thriller


See all certifications »





English | Welsh | Scottish Gaelic

Release Date:

29 December 1981 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Artemis '81 See more »

Filming Locations:

Abersoch, Gwynedd, Wales, UK See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono | Dolby Digital (DVD version)



Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Gideon wakes up in Gwen's car, having spent the night on the road to Oxford. The first thing he sees is the logo painted on the back of a red van, reading: «J.Ch. Simopoulos & Co. / Rolls - Stamps - Punches - Dies / Oxford». Gideon sums up for the viewer, "The life of a man!" See more »


Library Scholar: [to Gideon Harlax] Young man! If you must fantasize, do so elsewhere!
See more »


References Stalker (1979) See more »


Fantasy and Fugue on the chorale Ad nos, ad salutarem undam
(S.259) (excerpt)
Written by Franz Liszt
See more »

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User Reviews

A forerunner to Twin Peaks?
29 September 2009 | by drjamesaustinSee all my reviews

I'm not sure how to describe this bizarre, but beautiful movie.

First, it's long. Just one minute under three hours. And it's not exactly fast-paced either. If sci-fi for you means action, spaceships and interplanetary intrigue, give this one a miss. In fact, although the cover describes it as "The cult BBC Science Fiction film", I'd hesitate to call it science fiction; indeed, I'd hesitate to label it anything at all.

And it's definitely flawed. The dialogue is riddled with melodrama and pretentious poetry; the camera-work sophomoric, and the editing clumsy. And yet the effect shines through: the movie has an eerie, otherworldly quality, where trivial details (such as an old lady glaring at a noisy conversation in a library) seem to take on ominous significance.

And so, if you have the patience, you'll get sucked in to this movie. It's mysterious, and beautiful. But don't expect to come out satisfied. Although there is a plot, it is far from clear. The story moves from one surreal incident to another, each connected but seldom shedding any light on its predecessor; even at the end, when it appears that our protagonists have triumphed, it's far from clear what exactly they've triumphed over, and most loose ends are left firmly untied.

Hywel Bennett does a fine job as as the somewhat petulant author caught up in a situation that might have been co-written by Kafka and Philip K Dick. Dinah Stabb perhaps succumbs a little to her melodramatic script; Dan O'Herlihy brings an artistic gravitas to his role. A cameo from a very young Daniel Day-Lewis, and a supporting role by Sting, add a bit of celebrity interest.

Overall, Artemis '81 reminded me more than anything of Twin Peaks (which was made nearly a decade later, and, curiously, also featured Dan O'Herlihy) - the same sense of explanation hidden just around the corner, and another reality just half-glimpsed and poorly understood. I don't think everyone will enjoy this movie, but I certainly did.

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