CE Films - Part 12 - 2002 A


28 Jan 2002
TV film | Dir. Charles McDougall | Wr. Jimmy McGovern
Role: General Ford.

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Alex: "One more drama-documentary from the team behind 'Hillsborough', once again throwing light on a very complicate subject. It shows the events of Bloody Sunday (the 30th of January, 1972), when 13 unarmed civilians were killed by British troops during a protest march in Derry, Northern Ireland.

"I suppose Eccleston's name was mostly necessary to increase the credibility of this rendering of events. He plays General Ford who was commanding the paras, and was directly responsible for the outcome of the clash. Ford is shown unilaterally as an inhuman strategist (not to be crass, but other CE's character Major West is just a boy scout in this regard). He is cold, lies through his teeth, and he's a personification of the military and British government, planning the dealing with suspected IRA militants (in reality, all inconvenient protesters) and the whitewashing afterwards.

"In the commentary Mr. McDougall remarks that some people found Ford's portrayal overstated, but the truth is that it was actually very accurate. You could say that Chris wasn't put to much use, knowing his ability to employ the grey areas, but this time it wasn't the goal of the creators to look at General as a person, only as a cog in the political machinery. Persons were the civilians who were automatically treated as guilty by the authorities – and sentenced in situ. Common citizens are this thought-provoking film's focus."

Conclusion: Strong docu-drama.

DVD Notes:
2007 "Channel 4" All Regions. English HOH subtitles. Extras: Commentary w/ J. McGovern, Ch. McDougall & St. Gargan; Programme 'The Bloody Sunday Debate'; Witness testimonies audio.

13 Feb 2002
Film | Dir. Michael Winterbottom | Wr. Frank Cottrell Boyce
Role: Boethius (homeless philosopher).

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Alex: "Absolutely enjoyable film about Tony Wilson and Mad-chester, especially if Factory Records, The Hacienda, Joy Division and the like say something to you. Eccleston isn't credited and only receives thanks, but he does have one scene where he appears as a homeless, claiming to be Boethius, 'author of
The Consolation of Philosophy':
It's my belief that history is a wheel. 'Inconstancy is my very essence,' says the wheel, 'Rise up on my spokes if you like, but don't complain when you're cast back down into the depths.' Good times pass away, but then so do the bad. Mutability is our tragedy, but it's also our hope. The worst of times, like the best, are always passing away.
It's ironic that it is followed by a scene about UFO sightings above Little Hulton."

Conclusion: Great film, tiny role. I'd certainly recommend this film to anyone interested in Manchester music scene, and while Boethius is on screen for just a moment, you will also see John Simm as a member of Joy Division/New Order.

DVD Notes:
2004 "Pathe" Region 2. English HOH subtitles. Extras: Commentaries by T. Wilson, St. Coogan & A. Eaton; Profiles; 24 deleted scenes; Inters; New Order music video; Theatrical trailer.

8 Mar 2002
Film | Dir. Ole Bornedal | Wr. Ole Bornedal, Jonas Cornell & Herbjørg Wassmo (novel)
Role: Leo Zhukovsky.

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Alex: "A Norwegian feature, screen adaptation of a hugely popular novel, is a harrowing tale of a young woman who lives in a whirlwind of her emotions and memories, nature's forces and men's desires. Dina's strength is also her undoing. Fjords and ghosts from the past, cruel and luckless people are all part of this narrative that stylistically feels like one cold northern white night.

"Leo Zhukovsky is a Russian anarchist, a man who is his mission. Among the international cast (French, Norwegian, Danish), speaking variously dented English, it is the film's British actor who deliberately adopts a Slavic accent. I like this undisguised multilingual approach – it adds to the raw, untamed atmosphere.

"Zhukovsky is interesting, but we get to know very little about his past, his private life; he harbours mysteries, as he tries to accomplish his task. Since his reappearance in the second half of the film you experience curiosity, similar to Dina's, and while you do not get many answers, you are also impressed. He is different from other men in her life, he brings broader perspective into her closed-in world, but gets entangled in fate's games like everyone else Dina becomes close to.

"Great performance from CE, especially as there are no filler scenes – whenever he's on screen, something important happens. Lots of action; and a scene of almost unbearable power where Dina visits Leo in prison, and all his acting is done with his face – that's all she and the viewer can see through the bars in the cell door. These transitions of emotions etch into your mind, and stay there to haunt you.

"As if this wasn't enough, he's also part of the gruesome finale. And here a surprise might await you – there are two different endings, both official. The original, for the domestic market, is more relentless than the international one, which allows for some will-o'-the-wisp of hope. Nonetheless it is absolutely possible to apply the same or similar interpretation to both of them; it depends on what the film managed to tell you so far, and how you would want the experience to terminate. I prefer the heavy one, because in my mind it's more truthful to Dina's persona."

Conclusion: I'd recommend this film to those who are interested in strong female characters, or would like to see an exceptional example of modern Scandinavian cinematography.

Trivia: CE shares scenes with Mads Mikkelsen, from whom he inherited the role of Malekith in 'Thor: The Dark World'.

DVD Notes:
2002 "Egmont Film" Region 2. Scandinavian subtitles. Extras: Teaser; Trailer; 'Behind The Camera' feature; Alternative ending; Behind-the-scenes; Inters w/ cast & crew.

CE interview