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Red Shift

Entry updated 8 March 2017. Tagged: TV.

Tv film (1978). British Broadcasting Corporation. Directed by John Mackenzie. Written by Alan Garner from his own novel, Red Shift (1973). Cast includes Charles Bolton, Andrew Byatt, Lesley Dunlop, Bernard Gallagher, Stephen Petcher, Stella Tanner and Michael Wolf. 75 minutes. Colour.

The 2014 DVD release of this compact Television drama, originally aired on BBC's Play for Today omnibus series, makes available Garner's own visualization of his knottedly inward novel in which psyches in torment come together on Mow Top Hill (somewhere in the Alderley Edge, Cheshire region which serves as the venue for almost all of his work). Sharp but frustrated young Tom (Petcher), whose girlfriend Jan (Dunlop) is in London while he remains trapped in the working-class Midlands, somehow broadcasts his sense of entrapment to two other men in similar positions, Thomas (Bolton), an epileptic seer at the time of the English Civil War, and Macey (Byatt), a Roman legionary whose tendency to go berserk makes him a natural associate with the other two emotional extremists. As the three converge Time Travel or Timeslip is involved. The vortex they create is a Body English of the anguish of being young and at odds with a mundane world. The resolution they reach, though fragmented, clears the air. Mackenzie's control of this untoward material is impeccable. [JC]


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