Great Britain 1996
Dir: Andrew Kötting
100 min., 35mm, 1:1.66, Color
Produktion: British Film Institute; Channel 4; Arts Council of England. Kamera: Nick Gordon Smith, Gary Parker. Schnitt: Cliff West. Musik: David Burnand. Ton: Douglas Templeton. Produzenten: Ben Woolford, Ben Gibson, Andy Powell.
Uraufführung: August 1996, Edinburgh Film Festival.
Weltvertrieb: British Film Institute. 29 Rathbone Street, London W1P 1AG. Großbritannien Tel.: (44-171) 636 55 87, Fax: (44-171) 580 9456.
Sat 15.02. 11:00 Kino 7 im Zoo Palast Sat 15.02. 16:30 Delphi Sun 16.02. 22:30 Arsenal Mon 17.02. 19:30 Akademie der Künste Tue 18.02. 19:00 Babylon
In purely formal terms, GALLIVANT is the description of a journey on several levels, seen from three different perspectives.
The route is a simple one - once round the British Isles, along the coast. The starting and finishing point is Bexley, in Southern England. In the foreground, we see an old country, trying in bewilderment to creep into the 21st Century. With little success. It looks somewhat like the ex-GDR sporting the neon signs of West German companies; beneath the surface are the living signs of the 1950's. The people we meet have prejudices and are stranded on their island. There doesn't seem to be much of a future for them; instead, many variations of the past exist in their minds.
The various perspectives in the film span four generations: Gladys, the grandmother, is 85; her grandson, the filmmaker, is 38, and his daughter, Eden, is 7. Gladys is 'straight', a pragmatist, whose thought processes are logical and linear, even when she talks about the family's history. She is proud of her great-granddaughter; her grandson (whom she calles an 'idiot') is suspect because of his profession. Eden suffers from Joubert's Syndrome and can only communicate using sign language. She has not got many years to live. The director's motivation was to make this journey "before we all go our separate ways".
At the beginning of the film we see the flimsy identical holiday bungalows of 1950's Butlins, in which the working class families, thanks to the post-war prosperity years, were able to spend their holidays for the first time. These are probably the same houses. Now they are all empty. Majorca is a preferable destination here as well. The camera pans over the retirement seaside resorts of the middle classes. These places have also seen better times. The journey goes on through Cornwall to Lands End, to the raw, steep cliffs. The images are distorted and shaky, as though we were in a storm. Gladys remains the voice of reason, Eden expresses both joy and refusal loudly. Luckily, the filmmaker has no precise plan; he plays with his impressions.
In Wales we see something which amounts almost to a political protest against the English, those arrogant invaders who buy up the best houses, close the mines and the steel works, suppress the language and force the young into unemployment. The songs, for which the Welsh are famous, also deal only with the past, with a time when Welsh identity was strong. The land is fallow and sad; rugby alone cannot save the nation.
Blackpool in Northern England was the mecca of a working class which no longer exists. The rainy weekend outings to the huge fairground have gone to hell.
In contrast to the Welsh, the Scots have held up valiantly against the English, claiming the right after the next election to their own Parliament and to tax exemption. The Romans knew what they were doing when they built Hadrian's Wall. It is not a coincidence that Eden walks unaided for the first time in this wilful place, amongst these proud, hard-drinking people. Gladys was absent for a couple of days but she is back when the filmmaker breaks his ankle in a road accident whilst trying - in vain - to persuade his daughter to return to her special school. The emergency ward looks as though the NHS has not received funding for decades.
We return to the South coast where some attempt at adaptation to modern technology has been made. It is hopeless. The old bulwarks and stone walls will outlive everything.
This is a journey from the perspective of a child for whom everything is in movement; from the perspective of an old woman who still finds evidence of a time when everyone and everything had its place. It is also a journey from the perspective of a filmmaker who has written a poem about their will to live, and about a country which is in confusion and whose collective survival instinct has no common aim anymore.
The sea will fetch everything unto itself again. And that is good.
Andrew Kötting's feature debut, GALLIVANT, combines the theme of family adventure and the sea into perhaps the most inspiring film of the year. The story is simple. Kötting, his grandmother and his daughter Eden set out together to travel the way round the coastline of mainland Britain. Together they have adventures, meet lots of characters, explore fishing villages and get to know each other. Kötting films the journey like Koyaanisqatsi. Clouds race across the sky, tides rise and fall, landscapes are bathed first in sun, then in shade. Much of the dialogue, the little conversations people have when they know each other well and just enjoy being together, floats about this epic imagery of the sea and sky, bringing a majesty and a poetry to both. Sometimes the director himself is on screen. Once he falls in the sea. The old lady calls him a 'silly bugger'. It is difficult to describe the quiet humanism of this film. It's about good times, low key times. It's as if the grand racing imagery is yelling how wonderful it is to be alive, while the travellers are quietly living away. GALLIVANT is an epic, a road movie, a family romance, and a poem about where the land meets the ocean.
Andrew Kötting was born December 16th, 1959. He studied for a mixed media MA at the Slade School of Art, then went to make a number of films for the Arts Council, including Hoi Polloi (1990) and Acumen (1995). Under the BFI's New Directors Scheme, he made Smart Alek (1994), which won the BBC Best Drama award at the British Short Film Festival. He also made La Bas (1995) with the BFI under the Continental Drift II banner. Also in 1995 he made Jaunt for the LFVDA and Carlton, a five minute film on Super-8. GALLIVANT is his first feature.
1984: Klipperty Klopp. 1986: Anvil Head The Hun. 1987: Self Heal. 1988: Erik and Ingrid. 1988: Jackofalltradesmasterofnoneinland ofmaneatingtrees. 1989: Hub Bub In the Baobabs. 1990: Hoi Polloi. 1991: Acumen. 1992: Diddykoy. 1992: H.B. 1829; Fleshfilm. 1993: Festival of Brent; Smart Alek. 1994: La Bas. 1995: Jaunt. 1996: GALLIVANT.
© 1997 by International Forum of New Cinema. All rights reserved.