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Red Riding Trilogy

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The Trilogy is coming to the Lagoon in Minneapolis for a week in mid-march. Trying to figure out which would be best: one film three nights in a row? A day of space for reflection in between each? Unfortunately, I'm sure my busy schedule will determine how the viewing happens. Still, so excited! I wonder how well-attended these will be and whether I should try to get tickets beforehand. Anyone seen these yet?

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Is this what you're talking about? "Akin to Dickens on bad acid."

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Haven't seen the series, but understand that it can be quite a harrowing undertaking. Interesting that this British TV series is going to join the ranks of State of Play and Edge of Darkness as a future big screen adaptation (if memory serves, Ridley Scott has optioned this).

Edited by Baal_T'shuvah

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It's playing in Chicago on a weekend with several options. They've created the schedule so you can watch all three in a row, or stagger them one at a time over a series of days. It's too much of an undertaking for me right now. It will have to wait for a DVD release, which I'm disappointed about but at least I know my limits.

I am greatly looking forward to it some day.

FWIW, from the Jan/Feb 2010 Filmcomment:

Tony Grisoni adapted 1974 from the first novel in David Peace's "Red Riding Quartet," named for a Grimm's fairytale, the color of blood, and the West Riding district of Yorkshire. He also adapted 1977, which wasn't filmed; 1980, which was directed by James Marsh; and 1983, directed by Anand Tucker. The absence of 1977 doesn't dilute the overall intensity, but producer Andrew Eaton still hopes to greenlight it once Ridley Scott has completed his American Feature adaptation of the entire quartet. It's been mooted that Scott's film will be set in a run-down industrial state such as Pennsylvania, but whether the screenwriter, Steve Zaillian, will feel obliged to replicate the fierce regionalism of Peace's novels, as did Grisoni, is another matter.

Trailer looks awesome:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hAusM0Hhwpg&feature=PlayList&p=57B78F8CC39E24BB&playnext=1&playnext_from=PL&index=31

red-riding-trilogy-afm.jpg

Also for the search: Julian Jarrold

Edited by Persona

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I live in the UK, and the films are available to watch here, on a Channel 4 website. I hope that this is viewable abroad...

Edited by David

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"The service is not currently available in your area." That's what it says here in Canada, at least.

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Sorry about that, Peter- too bad...

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It won't give it to the Americans either. But thanks for trying!

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You're welcome :)

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Filmsweep Reaction to 1974:

When the Red Riding trilogy hit my neck of the woods this year, all three films showed up for one week and one week only, and then they were gone. It's a terrible marketing strategy. Why would you show interest in seeing 1974, the first film in the trilogy, if you knew that if you liked it you'd have to cram hard to get to a theater twice more in the same week? Who plans a week for a trilogy when they don't even know from the first film whether the following two garner interest?

With such a horrible marketing strategy it seems the trilogy is more suited for Americans to see on DVD. The three DVDs came out this week, and I made sure to throw them in the top of my queue.

Judging from the first film I would have been very conflicted about the next two had I had to face that week of the trilogy in theaters. I simply can't tell from the first one whether this is going to be worth an investment of my time.

Ebert compared the films to the Italian epic The Best of Youth. In terms of the time invested, I guess the comparison is apt enough. For those six hours you had to plan two trips to the theater, but the comparison ends there. The Best of Youth was up and down, all over the place emotionally, full of the highs and lows of life, the greatest joys and the bleakest despairs, but like most of life there was always an upside to the many downs.

After 1974, I am persuaded that Yorkshire is a county full of people of bleak despair, and nothing but.

I guess I should take into account the subject matter. Maybe a serial killer in the neighborhood really would make this an awful place to live. And maybe the rampant police and civil corruption of the early to mid-1970s would add to the bottom-of-the-barrel feel of all the characters in this film. But -- yuck. Are the next four hours going to be as icky as this?

The trilogy is loosely based on the Yorkshire Ripper, a serial killer who took thirteen lives in England between 1975-1980. It is a very real case which lit up the community, landing the killer in prison for life and causing quite a stir at the corruption and ineptness of the West Yorkshire police force. 1974 follows young reporter Eddie (Andrew Garfield) who seems to be the only one who wants to bring the killer to justice, but I'm sure he wants a way into covering the hottest case in town, too.

It's not that it's not an interesting story, because it is, and it's not that it's not told really well, because there are exceptional moments. In the beginning we're focused solely on the story of the Yorkshire Ripper, not even fully convinced of his existence, but as the film progresses we lose that focus and a new mystery begins to emerge. We never return to the original mystery. In the end, we seem to, but we're somewhat sure we actually haven't. And that narrative ambiguity makes its way into the acting, the choreography and the general atmosphere as well. There are moments of utter lostness, hallucinogenic, like groping in the dark. The grainy, organic 16mm feel suits this fictional film based on a true-to-life serial killer.

But it is miserably hopeless, and that's why I'm having difficulty deciding whether it is actually going to be worth it or not.

Originally broadcast on BBC TV, the trilogy is made by three different directors in three different formats (the next two films are shot on 35mm and digital video, respectively). I know I'll make it through at least the second film in the trilogy, because 1980 is directed by James Marsh, and I loved his documentaries Man on Wire and Wisconsin Death Trip. The completist in me will most likely want to see the third once I've seen the first two. I guess I'll continue reporting as I go.

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The three films are also on Netflix's Watch Instantly.

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The three films are also on Netflix's Watch Instantly.

I considered that, but decided the subtitles really help with this one.

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Having now seen about half of the second film, I am certain the first film had nothing to do with the Yorkshire Ripper. Little girls were the target in 1974, and the killings there all took place before the Yorkshire Ripper's time, which began in 1975 -- and those killings seemed to target prostitutes, not little girls.

So my UK history is messed up. Now I wonder whether the serial killer from 1974 is also based in reality, and if so, wow. What a brutal period of time to live in this place. And if that serial killer was also based in reality, I wonder if he was ever caught, because 1980 moves right into the police investigation of the Yorkshire Ripper.

Edited by Persona

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And if that serial killer was also based in reality, I wonder if he was ever caught, because 1980 moves right into the police investigation of the Yorkshire Ripper.

I thought it was

Sean Bean--and so did

Wikipedia, for whatever that's worth

I've got to re-watch the first movie; my Netflix streaming has been touch-and-go lately and I've not had much luck watching complete movies. But I recall liking it well enough, even if the overall experience left me desperately depressed.

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When that admission happened, I didn't take it at face value. At that point it seemed out of left field.

He was already evil in one way, didn't expect he'd be evil in both ways and it seemed far fetched that he was involved in both the burning of the gypsies and the serial killings.

In any case, we're still discussing the film, which is good to try and piece together, but I'd really like to find out whether this part of the trilogy is based on a real case. I'll poke around with it later and see if I can find something.

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Just a bit of reading at the Imdb message board shows that it was ambiguous.

I'd forgotten this, but it is probably another reason I didn't think it was Dawson -- his wife repeatedly named a figure she called the "wolf," who did the killings for him. She also kept saying something about "under the carpets," do you remember that?

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I vaguely remember the second point. My memory as a whole is fragmented; as I say, it was hard to keep a steady focus on the movie when it paused every fifteen minutes to load. Because of that, I was more struck by side-issues, rather than the plot--by the look of the film (it reminded me of a Polaroid from that era) and by Andrew Garfield's performance as the dogged reporter. And the mood (I may be wrong, but I seem to remember thinking that Garfield only smiles once in the film--when he's making ready to

leave Yorkshire with whats-her-name.

And that, of course, is right before everything falls apart. As I say, very depressing).

I think I need to have the DVD sent, or try streaming again, so I can concentrate on the actual story.

Edited by NBooth

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1980 is... perfect. And it picks up so many of the leftover pieces from 1974, it is rewarding and satisfying in the end. As I progress to the final film, I'm feeling like this is very "Inceptionesque," except that when you begin to go back through the maze, it's much better -- all of these pieces actually fit together. Will try and write more soon.

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I'll be interested to hear how the final installment sits with you. A few reviewers thought it was the weakest installment, but nevertheless a very solid conclusion.

On another note, I wish somebody would give Roberto Bolano's superb monster-novel, 2666, the RED RIDING treatment, and adapt it into five features by five different directors.

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Here is an excerpt from my Filmsweep Reaction to 1980. I also added an addendum to 1974, since my historical understanding was a bit lacking... Oh, and I didn't copy and paste this part but I did change it from "perfect" to "near perfect," only because answers aren't provided for some lingering questions... But the way 1980 resolved... wow. Kinda reminded me of Keyser Söze...

Whereas in 1974 we followed young and cocky journalist Eddie Dunford, who appeared truly caring in tracking down the killer for his paper, 1980 gives us Paddy Considine as Peter Hunter, the upstanding cop who also has unanswered questions from the first film's closing shootout. Frustrations with an investigation finding nothing after thirteen murders, and Hunter's known integrity and fearlessness in pursuing justice land him a job on a special task force, what the press calls a "super squad," appointed to apprehend the killer and solve this mysterious case once and for all. Like Dunford before him, Hunter is over his head before he even knows it. What he begins to solve is a mystery, indeed -- but not the one he was jobbed out for.

Police corruption once again takes priority. The Yorkshire Ripper will certainly be caught, but he once again takes second fiddle when Hunter starts digging in the files. I wouldn't call the serial killers MacGuffins, it's just that these are extremely large stories and Red Riding chooses to prioritize the story within the story.

Two or three things became immediately apparent only a few seconds into 1980:

1. The look of 1980's 35mm shreds 1974's 16mm, which was obvious from the first frame. There's a cinematic quality here that leaps the production up quite a few notches.

2. We now understand that there's more than one murder mystery. In fact, there are at the very least three.

3. Sometimes one simply prefers one directorial or cinematographic style over another, and it can make all the difference in the subject matter and one's experience in dealing with tough material. Like watching Hannibal Lecter, or Se7en, there's nothing easy about this subject matter. Frankly speaking, some of it is sick and goes back to our Old Testament fascination with the strange side of humanity most of us only relate to through story. That we're grappling with an issue that's been around since Cain and Abel makes it no less easy to watch, and stories like this are going to make certain that the horror of it stays with us for a while. But personally I can say that it was easier to take with James Marsh at the helm. It's probably that he simply knows how to add filmic pizazz without it necessarily being noticeable. There are also moments of reprieve that weren't present in 1974, moments when we get a breather from the ickiness.

At the end of 1974 I was left wondering whether this was going to be a worthwhile endeavor. At the end of 1980 I'm left dazed, spellbound. I cannot wait for 1983.

Edited by Persona

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Just finished 1983 and my head is spinning...

What's truly hilarious is to take a trip over to the IMDB message boards. There are quite a few spinning heads over there, too.

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I finally posted a reaction to 1983 Here.

One thing I failed to mention at the blog that comes to mind now that I'm posting at A&F, is that I'd love to see some of your reactions -- particularly Jeffrey, SDG, Peter. I don't know if you plan to see this or not, but there's one element in particular that I think I know what you'll think about it, but I'm not so sure.

For those who have seen it, I'm thinking specifically about:

Who the killer turns out to be, his position in society. The wolf (in sheep's clothing).

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I finally posted a reaction to 1983 Here.

One thing I failed to mention at the blog that comes to mind now that I'm posting at A&F, is that I'd love to see some of your reactions -- particularly Jeffrey, SDG, Peter. I don't know if you plan to see this or not, but there's one element in particular that I think I know what you'll think about it, but I'm not so sure.

For those who have seen it, I'm thinking specifically about:

Who the killer turns out to be, his position in society. The wolf (in sheep's clothing).

I won't reply on the level of any of those guys, but I just finished the third and really loved the whole trilogy. I disagree with you on the types of film used for each film, especially in the case of '74. I really felt the use of 16 mm added a lot to the visceral feeling of the first one. It felt rough, very fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants which backed up the character and actions of Andrew Garfield's character. That's just me, and at this point, that's all I got. My head, like yours, is spinning. I'm glad I picked this up because A) I needed the subtitles and B) I need more viewings!

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I finally posted a reaction to 1983 Here.

One thing I failed to mention at the blog that comes to mind now that I'm posting at A&F, is that I'd love to see some of your reactions -- particularly Jeffrey, SDG, Peter. I don't know if you plan to see this or not, but there's one element in particular that I think I know what you'll think about it, but I'm not so sure.

For those who have seen it, I'm thinking specifically about:

Who the killer turns out to be, his position in society. The wolf (in sheep's clothing).

I won't reply on the level of any of those guys, but I just finished the third and really loved the whole trilogy. I disagree with you on the types of film used for each film, especially in the case of '74. I really felt the use of 16 mm added a lot to the visceral feeling of the first one. It felt rough, very fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants which backed up the character and actions of Andrew Garfield's character. That's just me, and at this point, that's all I got. My head, like yours, is spinning. I'm glad I picked this up because A) I needed the subtitles and B) I need more viewings!

I don't think we disagree. I see 1974 as both "visceral" and "retro". And I agree that the trilogy needs to be seen more than once. There's just too much to take in with only one viewing.

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I finally got around to watching the whole trilogy, and I'm glad I did. This is how a film trilogy should work--crossing and re-crossing itself, slowly revealing itself for (and to) itself--revising earlier films in the set without compromising them. The plotting is dense (I had to get me to Wikipedia as soon as the last film ended just so I could be sure what I had just seen), and much of the pleasure I felt watching was feeling the parts click into place (it's the satisfaction that Ebert said I should feel, but didn't, while watching The American. Not that I'm bitter or anything). Some thoughts:

1. One thing that struck me--primarily regarding the first two movies, though I think the last one could probably fit in here somewhere--is that, even though the trilogy belongs to the crime genre, each individual film seems to live in a different subset of that genre. 1974 is heart-of-darkness noir (I had actually just read this post on noir by Ray Banks when I watched the first movie, and that may have colored my perceptions a bit); 1980, for the most part plays like a procedural detective novel of the P.D. James variety--the inspector calls together his team and they investigate while trying to juggle their personal lives, etc; 1983, though, has me stumped. I suppose one could say that it's a variation on the dogged-amateur, with Piggott filling that role, but that reading doesn't seem quite right.

2. I was surprised how important B.J. became to the whole business, and if I had any complaints it's that his character wasn't actually around enough to command the kind of empathy eventual revelations about him require. At the same time, I don't know how they could have played it any differently and still have preserved the revelation.

3. It was interesting to compare these movies to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo--not strictly fair, since it's three-to-one--but they deal with similar subject-matter and they employ the same crime-fiction format. But where (to me) Dragon Tattoo featured unbelievable cartoons as the wrongdoers, the villains in the Red Riding Trilogy (while just as monstrous) seem more believably human. I wonder if this isn't because we see many of them scheming and desperate (for instance,

the ex-chief constable,)

while the ones that seem "in control" of themselves play the parts in an understated way, without the audience being shown more than small glimpses of their crimes.

I'm thinking of Sean Bean and Reverend Martin Laws.

I'm sure there's far more that could be said, but yes--this trilogy demands repeat viewings. I may have to take a rest and revisit it in a month or so.

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