Bill Douglas Trilogy

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foggy eyes
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Bill Douglas Trilogy

#1 Post by foggy eyes » Thu Dec 07, 2006 9:35 pm

Bill Douglas Trilogy

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Three of the most compelling films about childhood and adolescence ever made - released for the first time on DVD.

Bill Douglas's award-winning films - My Childhood, My Ain Folk and My Way Home - which the BFI is releasing together in a two-disc DVD set with special features, are three of the most compelling and critically acclaimed films about childhood ever made.

The narrative is largely autobiographical, following Jamie (played with heart-breaking conviction by Stephen Archibald) as he grows up in a poverty-stricken mining village in post-war Scotland. In these brutal surroundings, and subject to hardship and rejection, Jamie learns to fend for himself. We see him grow from child to adolescent - angry and bewildered, but playful, creative and affectionate.

In My Childhood (1972), eight-year old Jamie lives with his granny and elder brother in a Scots mining village in 1945. With his mother in a mental home, and his father absent, he is subject to the hardships of poverty. In My Ain Folk (1973), Jamie is sent to live with his paternal grandmother and uncle; a life full of silence and rejection. My Way Home (1978) sees Jamie's ultimate victory over his circumstances; after a spell in foster care, and a homeless shelter, he is conscripted into the RAF, where he embarks on a redemptive friendship with Robert, which allows him to emerge from his ineffectual adolescence to pursue his artistic ambition.

Watching the Trilogy is far from a depressing experience. This is cinematic poetry: Douglas contracted his subject matter to the barest essentials - dialogue is kept to a minimum, and fields, slag heaps and cobbled streets are shot in bleak monochrome. Yet with its unexpected humour and warmth, the Trilogy brims with clear-eyed humanity, and affection for an ultimately triumphant young boy.

Extras:

- Bill Douglas: Intent on Getting the Image (2006, 63 mins), a new documentary about Bill Douglas's life and work.
- Come Dancing (1970, 15 mins), Douglas's remarkable, rarely-seen student short.
- Rare archive interview with Bill Douglas (4 mins)
- Illustrated booklet containing newly commissioned essays, notes and credits.
Last edited by foggy eyes on Sun Dec 10, 2006 3:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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zedz
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#2 Post by zedz » Thu Dec 07, 2006 11:02 pm

foggy eyes wrote:I've heard that the BFI are attempting to release Bill Douglas's wonderful My Childhood, My Ain Folk and My Way Home next year. I think their collective DVD release will be preceded by a brief NFT retrospective in May.
Excellent news! These are great, great films (though damn grim). Now if only somebody would do the same for Terence Davies even grimmer autobiographical trilogy.

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What A Disgrace
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#3 Post by What A Disgrace » Mon Mar 31, 2008 3:26 pm

foggy eyes wrote:Good to see Syndromes up for pre-order. The Bill Douglas Trilogy should be on the way that month too, and Still Life & Dong in July.
This is a typo, right?

You mean Terence Davies Trilogy, right?

I know you didn't just say that the Bill Douglas Trilogy was coming out in June.

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#4 Post by MichaelB » Mon Mar 31, 2008 4:15 pm

What A Disgrace wrote:This is a typo, right?

You mean Terence Davies Trilogy, right?

I know you didn't just say that the Bill Douglas Trilogy was coming out in June.
I can't confirm the exact dates, but both trilogies are imminent.

(Not entirely unpredictable, this, given the restorations that were unveiled last year!)

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foggy eyes
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#5 Post by foggy eyes » Mon Mar 31, 2008 5:33 pm

What A Disgrace wrote:I know you didn't just say that the Bill Douglas Trilogy was coming out in June.
It is definitely on the way, and the end of June is the date I've heard (very recently). As MichaelB says, both have been on the cards for a while - and Bill's trilogy emerging before Terence's makes good chronological sense. Amazing, stunningly bleak films.

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#6 Post by What A Disgrace » Mon Mar 31, 2008 8:56 pm

Wow, that's wonderful.

BFI is really kicking ass this year...the Land of Promise set, Bill Douglas' and Terence Davies' trilogy, Cottage at Dartmoor, Cluny Brown...maybe The Long Day Closes...no telling what else they have in the works.

I'm happy.

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zedz
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#7 Post by zedz » Mon Mar 31, 2008 11:50 pm

foggy eyes wrote:
What A Disgrace wrote:I know you didn't just say that the Bill Douglas Trilogy was coming out in June.
It is definitely on the way, and the end of June is the date I've heard (very recently). As MichaelB says, both have been on the cards for a while - and Bill's trilogy emerging before Terence's makes good chronological sense. Amazing, stunningly bleak films.
Shame these won't be here in time to impact on 70s List voting. My Ain Folk will be high on my list (loath as I am to divide the trilogy up). So, any word on Comrades? I saw this last year and was amazed: utterly different from the trilogy but one of the most ambitious and unusual period films I've ever seen.

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GaryC
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#8 Post by GaryC » Tue Apr 01, 2008 2:33 am

zedz wrote:So, any word on Comrades? I saw this last year and was amazed: utterly different from the trilogy but one of the most ambitious and unusual period films I've ever seen.
I would love to see Comrades again, and on DVD - and hopefully uncut. (It was cut for a PG certificate in the cinema, though apparently its one Channel 4 showing to date was uncut.) There may be a rights problem however - Comrades was produced by Skreba Films who made quite a few films in the 80s, and none of them are on DVD as yet.

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foggy eyes
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#9 Post by foggy eyes » Tue Apr 01, 2008 9:55 am

zedz wrote:Shame these won't be here in time to impact on 70s List voting. My Ain Folk will be high on my list (loath as I am to divide the trilogy up). So, any word on Comrades? I saw this last year and was amazed: utterly different from the trilogy but one of the most ambitious and unusual period films I've ever seen.
I would guess that the situation with Comrades is a bit of a muddle - Channel 4 stumped up the majority of cash to begin with, alongside the NFFC and Curzon. Duncan Petrie notes in A Lanternist's Account that only two prints exist in Britain - and that was fifteen years ago! I'd love to see a DVD, but have a feeling it won't be emerging any time soon. And, if one has to split the trilogy, it would be My Way Home for me - the most accessible film perhaps, but also the most moving and refined (by a whisker of course).

Oh, and I think Comrades was shown twice on Channel 4 - in 1989 and 1991.

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#10 Post by MichaelB » Tue Apr 01, 2008 10:17 am

foggy eyes wrote:Duncan Petrie notes in A Lanternist's Account that only two prints exist in Britain - and that was fifteen years ago!
Actually, the BFI National Archive has three complete 35mm prints and various other materials - it looks as though Skreba made a big donation at some point.

But the BFI, as you correctly surmised, doesn't hold any actual rights in the film.

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#11 Post by What A Disgrace » Tue Apr 08, 2008 7:15 am

The Bill Douglas Trilogy is up for preorder at Amazon!

Two disc set, priced £23.99 before the rebate, released June 23.

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tubal
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#12 Post by tubal » Wed Apr 09, 2008 4:53 am

Seems like I've been beaten to it but I'll post this anyway:
Thank you for your email. I am pleased to confirm that the Bill Douglas Trilogy will be released on DVD at the end of June as a 2-disc set with various extras. You will be able to order copies through the BFI Filmstore at www.bfi.org.uk/filmstore or via all good DVD retailers.

Best regards

BFI DVD Department
Can't wait for this. I've been emailing them for years about it. They're definitely the best Scottish films and up there with the best of British. =D>

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foggy eyes
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#13 Post by foggy eyes » Thu Apr 10, 2008 4:14 pm

Brief update on extras for the Bill Douglas Trilogy: Come Dancing (Bill's graduation film for the London Film School), four minutes of footage from a 1980 interview with Bill, and Andy Kimpton-Nye's recent 63 minute documentary (which I haven't seen yet, but am assured is very good). Peter Jewell has written an introduction for the booklet too.

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tubal
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#14 Post by tubal » Fri Apr 11, 2008 5:31 am

Bill Douglas Trilogy cover art is up on Play.com

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What A Disgrace
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#15 Post by What A Disgrace » Wed Jun 18, 2008 7:43 pm


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foggy eyes
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#16 Post by foggy eyes » Thu Jun 19, 2008 10:14 am

What A Disgrace wrote:Beaver on Bill Douglas
I have a copy in hand, and it really is a superb package. My Childhood was shot on 16mm, and I don't believe that it could look any better than it does here. Similarly, in comparison to the unrestored prints used for the previous BFI/Connoisseur VHS releases, My Ain Folk and My Way Home are stunning. Can't resist posting some caps:

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The booklet is wonderful - Peter Jewell's candid introduction is very moving, adding a highly personal touch that is not only very rare but wholly appropriate to the nature of Bill's work itself. John Caughie's piece is characteristically excellent, very similar to what he has already published on the films (in the article Don't Mourn - Analyse, originally printed in S&S then expanded for A Lanternist's Account). Both are hugely superior to my contribution, but fortunately that's much shorter.

The extras on the second disc are good (although Andy Kimpton-Nye's documentary suffers from the annoying trait of squeezing every full-frame clip out to 1.85 for no particular reason), and it's a real treat to be able to see Bill's graduation short Come Dancing at last. All in all, easily one of the most accomplished releases of the year - essential!

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zedz
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#17 Post by zedz » Thu Jun 19, 2008 4:24 pm

Thanks, foggy. These caps give a much better representation of the wonder of these films than the Beaver ones did (I'm so glad you got the cup in there). Even halfway decent transfers and nothing else would make this one of the releases of the year, but it looks like BFI went all the way on this one. Great work!

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foggy eyes
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#18 Post by foggy eyes » Thu Jun 19, 2008 5:18 pm

zedz wrote:(I'm so glad you got the cup in there).
Of course, although I could have taken captures all day long!
Even halfway decent transfers and nothing else would make this one of the releases of the year, but it looks like BFI went all the way on this one. Great work!
Absolutely. Like the best Criterions or MoCs, it's one of those sets which offer a perfect introduction to neglected/underseen work: the transfers are reference quality, and the extra material is carefully selected, thorough and thought-provoking. It's a very timely release too - tucked away at the bottom of the obits section in The Guardian yesterday was this:
In Memoriam

Douglas Bill, died 18 June 1991. Beloved comrade and lover of Jude Cottam.

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ellipsis7
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#19 Post by ellipsis7 » Fri Jun 20, 2008 3:52 am

Nice piece about making Bill Douglas' Trilogy by Mamoun Hassan, Head of Production at the BFI in 1971 - article in today's The Guardian...

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#20 Post by MichaelB » Tue Jun 24, 2008 6:11 am

DVD Times on the Bill Douglas Trilogy.

Jonathan S
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#21 Post by Jonathan S » Tue Jun 24, 2008 9:46 am

It's a pity that the Westward TV interview with Bill Douglas on the BFI DVD is so brief (the unused footage was junked).

Did the BFI attempt to locate the October 1978 edition of BBC2's Arena Cinema in which Gavin Millar interviewed Douglas at the National Film School? I have about five minutes of this programme (on VHS) from when an extract was used during Millar's introduction to a 1981 BBC transmission of the Trilogy. It's especially poignant when Douglas says he'll never forget his granny's knife attack "if I live to be one hundred years old".

I can believe Douglas didn't like giving interviews (even though he's quite charming in the two I've seen). I attended the premiere of Comrades at the London Film Festival in November 1986 and remember Derek Malcolm asking him to introduce the film. Douglas mumbled in reply, "Let the film speak for itself..." And it certainly did.

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#22 Post by MichaelB » Tue Jun 24, 2008 10:01 am

Jonathan S wrote:Did the BFI attempt to locate the October 1978 edition of BBC2's Arena Cinema in which Gavin Millar interviewed Douglas at the National Film School?
Well, it's listed in Bill Douglas' filmography on the BFI's internal filmographic database, and there's a copy in the BFI National Archive, so it's unlikely that the DVD production team would have been unaware of it...

...so my guess is that the BBC's asking price was unrealistically high.

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#23 Post by Jonathan S » Tue Jun 24, 2008 10:52 am

Thanks - I'm glad it's preserved anyway. I guess only Criterion can afford to license material from the BBC!

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#24 Post by MichaelB » Tue Jun 24, 2008 11:10 am

Jonathan S wrote: I'm glad it's preserved anyway. I guess only Criterion can afford to license material from the BBC!
For some reason it's much cheaper for non-UK labels to licence BBC material - I've no idea why, except that I think different BBC departments are involved.

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#25 Post by colinr0380 » Wed Jun 25, 2008 10:34 am

DVD Outsider review of the Bill Douglas trilogy.

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