As the first weekend of the KahBang festival came to an end, all of the focus shifted to the Bangor Opera House, where last night the first film in the critically-acclaimed “Red Riding Trilogy” was shown. The films were added to the festival schedule thanks to a collaboration between the KahBang Film Festival and River City Cinema, the local group responsible for the yearly outdoor film series held weekly during the summertime in Bangor’s Pickering Square, as well as showings of other films at various locations throughout the year
The crowd for last night’s event was fairly large, especially considering that it was for a British film that hadn’t received much media coverage (other than overwhelmingly positive reviews) here in the United States after its release. The crowd was also rather diverse in age – much more so than one would even find at a local movieplex.
The movie itself is one of three films, all directed by different directors but penned by screenwriter Tony Grisoni (best-known for his screen adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson’s “Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas”) based on a series of books written by David Peace. The books and the film are centered around a series of murders, all of which take place in and around the northern English town of Yorkshire. The films also deal with issues of corruption and greed, especially within the police force tasked with solving the murders.
“1974” follows the actions of a young reporter, Eddie Dunford (Andrew Garfield), who tries to connect the cases of several young girls who have disappeared, some of whom were found later, having been tortured, raped and murdered. He becomes intimate with the mother of one of the victims, played fantastically by Rebecca Hall, and in doing so, enters into a world of corruption, cover-ups, and police brutality.
The film itself is almost dream-like. American audiences particularly would find the thick northern British accents of the characters hard to decipher, and the story deliberately makes it hard to figure out what is happening in any objective sense. Julian Jarrold’s direction mimics the screenplay here, hiding figures in shadows, and deliberately shifting characters and objects in and out of focus. Of course in a film dealing with serial killing and torture, you would expect violence, but here we are only shown snippets, images half-shown or deliberate shots obstructing what is happening. The crimes committed here are horrible ones, and even the dialogue at times is hard to bear. The England shown in “1974” is one where the only innocent people perhaps are the victims themselves. It seems that everyone in the film was complicit in some form of evil, even if their crime was simply staying silent in the midst of everything going on around them.
As a feature “1974” – out of context of the rest of the trilogy – stands well on its own. The acting, writing and directing is superb, true of many of the films produced by Channel 4, the English television studio responsible for producing the series. How the work holds together as a whole will be a question answered today and Tuesday nights, when the two remaining films, “1980”, and “1983” are shown at the Bangor Opera House at 7:30 pm. The films are $5, but free to Film Festival and KahBang VIP pass holders.