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  Memoirs of a Survivor Remember The Future
Year: 1981
Director: David Gladwell
Stars: Julie Christie, Christopher Guard, Leonie Mellinger, Debbie Hutchings, Nigel Hawthorne, Pat Keen, Georgina Griffiths, Christopher Tsangarides, Mark Dignam, Alison Dowling, John Franklyn-Robbins, Rowena Cooper, Barbara Hicks, John Comer, Adrienne Byrne
Genre: Science Fiction, WeirdoBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: In the future, society has broken down with food scarce, lawlessness rife, especially from the younger generation, and the authorities apparently reluctant to restore order - or utterly unable to. In one urban location lives D (Julie Christie) who spends most of her time in her flat, not wishing to go out and face a world that has turned so hostile, though she still has to at times and even then it's just to get supplies as interaction with her fellow citizens seemed to be past her, or at least something she has lost interest in. She takes comfort in her home, for she has a magic wall in there, possibly an effect of the gradual apocalypse that has enabled her to see into the past with it to a Victorian era...

So does the Victorian era represent a nostalgia that can never be recaptured (can any nostalgia when you get down to it?), or is it a representation of the Victorian values politicians wanted to return to in the nineteen-eighties, and therefore dangerous to dwell on? There were many interpretations of this adaptation of Doris Lessing's novel, which apparently did start life as an actual memoir until she allowed her flights of fancy to render it metaphorical and figurative, but what was apparent was this showed itself up as an old person's view of the future, particularly in its regard of how children were adapting to the inexorable passage of time, which in this case saw them turn feral.

There was a strong hint of what Americans may term "get off my lawn!" to the film, scripted by Kerry Crabbe and director David Gladwell, the latter better used to editing films, though he had helmed the similarly magical realist (to an extent) Requiem for a Village a few years before. That was not widely seen, but it was admired, yet for Memoirs the consensus was nice try, but no more than that as the source was probably too much of a challenge for anyone to truly capture the essence of, certainly not on the small budget Gladwell had at his disposal here. That said, there was something of the children's TV fantasy serial about the renderings here, as this could have been in the same vein as something akin to The Changes or The Owl Service.

Fair enough, there were sexual scenes included in Memoirs that would not have made it into a kids series in a billion years, but the gist was very similar: noted author, youngsters as a focus to the drama, and the scenario just possible enough on a small amount of funds without breaking the bank. It even looked like something shown on BBC1 at ten past five on a Wednesday afternoon way back when, which for some would be just as nostalgic as D's passive observations of Victorian existence that her magic wall allows her access to. Nigel Hawthorne was behind that wall, and speaking nary a word, though judging from his behaviour there were all sorts of conflicts going on his head connected to his at first glance, well-to-do family.

In the present, which was the future but came across as a Fatcher's Britain accusation with its terminally rundown appearance, D is forced to look after a teenager called Emily (Leonie Mellinger) for no reason we are privy to, but Lessing would be well aware of, and for a while they get on fair enough. But Emily feels the pull of the young folks outside and falls in with would be urban warrior turned nanny Gerald (Christopher Guard) who tries to round up the kids who are growing more savage by the day; some he succeeds in looking after, others are too far gone and roam the streets as cannibals, to be feared by the dismayed older generation. That feeling of children running amok and paying no heed to what their elders have to say was plain throughout Memoirs, again that look through older eyes at the way their generation fear for the future even if they are not going to be living in it for much longer, but there was much obfuscation thanks to Christie wandering around deserted rooms showing various signs of decay in a lonely Alice in Wonderland fashion with too obscure results. Music by Mike Thorne.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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