Thursday, 20 December 2007

Alison De Vere "Mr. Pascal"

Mr. Pascal directed and drawn by Alison De Vere concerns an elderly shoe-maker, living alone now and dreaming of his youth and better times. The film commences in sketched black and white as we see Mr Pascal on a bench outside a church, watching passers by but isolated from them. Colour is introduced to the movie as he remembers his work as a cobbler, his wife and child watching on. Affixed to the church wall is a life-size figure of Christ on the crucifix. In a sudden fit of compassion for the tortured figure, the old man collects his tools from the shop returning to free Christ from the nails attaching him to the cross. He attends to the stigmata, wraps the figure in a blanket and lights a bonfire, created from the cross itself and the crown of thorns. He is joined by other companions of the night, a very mixed gathering that is rewarded by a night of miracles. Thus Mr Pascal frees himself from his woes and releases light and colour into the world, both symbolically and literally. This is an utter delight, and although it sits more in an Easter screening than the run up to Christmas, it is such an optimistic and invigorating movie, one I remember well from festivals in the 1990s when I first saw it. Technically and artistically Alison was adept. For example it is the tapping of the nails into the shoes of Mr Pascal's dreams that links with the wounds of Christ. All this is beautifully drawn. When the festivities begin the music of John Smith on guitar and Derek Hodson on flute, together with the now vibrant colour, create something very special. Similarly, the bursting into bloom of a blossom tree beside the church as Mr Pascal awakes from his slumbers is a most touching conclusion. She was nominated for a Best Short Film BAFTA for the 1974 film and won the Gran Prix at the Annecy Festival. Alison worked as design director on the The Beatle’s Yellow Submarine animation and contributed the Eleanor Rigby image used in the sequence for the song. She had a fitting training regime, working for Halas and Batchelor for five years during the early '50s. No training can have been better. Alison died in 2001 at the age of 73. I post about lots of movies, old and new, and thanks to those terrific collectors, in this case on YouTube, it is an absolute honour to be allowed an appreciation of such enchanting works and their creators. The seven minute movie begins my wind down to Christmas. Shorter posts to come on movies of a seasonal nature. Then a few selections of my movies of the year. Alison's may just be there!

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