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Two English cartographers visit the small South Wales village of Ffynnon Garw, to measure what is claimed to be the "first mountain inside of Wales". It's 1917, and the war in Europe continues. The villagers are very proud of their "mountain", and are understandably disappointed and furious to find that it is in fact a "hill". Not to be outwitted by a rule (and the Englishmen who enforce it), the villagers set out to make their hill into a mountain, but to do so they must keep the English from leaving, before the job is done.Written by
Many scenes shot on Location at Llanrheadr-ym-Mochnant where the local Pub "The Plough" features. See more »
When walking down the mountain, after the final measurement, Anson does not have the quadrant that he must have used to measure the mountain. See more »
For some odd reason, lost in the mists of time, there's an extraordinary shortage of last names in Wales. Almost everyone seems to be a Williams, a Jones, or an Evans. To avoid widespread confusion, Welsh people often add an occupation to a name. For example, there was Williams the Petroleum, and Williams the Death. There was Jones the Bottle, and Jones the Prize Cabbage... which described his hobby and his personality. Evans the Bacon, and Evans the End of the World. But one man's...
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I don't want Ffynnon Garw to be on the map because we begged for it.
The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain is directed by Christopher Monger and written by Ivor Monger. It stars Hugh Grant, Ian McNeice, Tara Fitzgerald, Colm Meaney and Kenneth Griffith. Music is by Stephen Endelman and cinematography by Vernon Layton.
Set in 1917, plot finds Grant and McNeice as two English cartographers who arrive in the Welsh village of Ffynnon Garw to measure what the locals proudly proclaim to be Wales' first mountain. However, it turns out that the "mountain" is 16 feet below the required 1000 feet requisite so therefore can only be classed as a hill. This news causes disgust amongst the locals, who then set about stopping the cartographers going home whilst they attempt to build atop of the hill to make it over 1000 feet.
A film with a big title that is matched by the size of its heart, Monger's film owes much to those fun community based pictures that filed out of Ealing Studios back in the 40s and 50s, Re: Whisky Galore! and The Titfield Thunderbolt. We can also safely place it the whimsy category where something as wonderful as Local Hero sits, while the old British comedy staple that encompasses an obsession with size (The Mouse That Roared) watches over the film like an approving British cinematic angel.
Homespun humour marries up with the utterly engaging view of quirky village life to provide us with just under 100 minutes of entertainment. Although clearly simple in plot and structure, to simply dismiss it as such does not do justice to the fine work of the ensemble cast and the writing of Ivor and Chris Monger. With Grant doing what he does best, the amiable nervous fop, picture has a lead actor fully comfortable with the tone and texture of the production, while around him there are a number of fine character actors putting delightful meat on the comedy bones of oddball characters with names such as Morgan the Goat, Johny Shellshock, William the Petroleum and Betty from Cardiff! Best of the bunch is Griffith as Reverend Jones, a grumpy, stubborn eccentric who underpins everything so wonderfully skew-whiff about life in Ffynnon Garw.
As for the writing? The screenplay has a wonderful ear for small village dialogue, while in amongst the value of community spirit theme, sits a near sombre observation of the effects of war on such a community. The production design is appealing, with Layton's photography around the Powys locations a visual treat, and Endelman's music has a suitably warming and jaunty feel; even if it starts to get a touch repetitive later in the piece. It doesn't have widespread appeal, it's clearly a film aimed at a small portion of film fans that love those films mentioned earlier. But in an era when film is being smothered by CGI and visual gimmickry, revisiting something like The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain offers up a most refreshing and diverting experience. 8/10
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