Elizabeth Sussex

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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 562

Anderson's work is based on the assumption that art is real', and that cinematic art is 'poetry'…. What is meant by 'poetry' … is a fusion between style and content, between the thing said and the way of saying it, that makes the two inseparable and at the same time creates something new. His poetry begins with realism, with images drawn from the everyday, that are also so charged with the artist's particular vision that they acquire a deeper meaning, intensifying reality and becoming in themselves an experience. (p. 12)

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But if Anderson always wanted art to show a belief in humanity, a mistake that people make is to regard this as a simple notion. On the contrary a belief in humanity, intelligently held, becomes increasingly complex the harder you look at humans. It was a belief in humanity that led Blake to write 'Cruelty has a human Heart,/And Jealousy a Human Face;/Terror the Human Form Divine,/And Secrecy the Human Dress."

To take the comparison with Blake a little further: most of Anderson's criticism and early films are Songs of Innocence (Thursday's Children) and Experience (O Dreamland.) As with Blake the two apparently irreconcilable opposites are first presented separately, and later welded together in a single vision of the world. (p. 14)

[Thursday's Children] is not about the nature of suffering. It is about the joy of discovery, the joy of being alive. (p. 21)

Thursday's Children shows emotion and discipline working in harmony—the ideal at the heart of Anderson's most personal films. The picture as a whole has the kind of order that could be this way and no other. And every physical detail, every cut and every close-up, consolidates this sense of rightness…. (pp. 22-3)

But Every Day Except Christmas is a youthful film: the last of Anderson's Songs of Innocence and the last film he was ever to make in quite this optimistic spirit of unqualified delight.

The film works in the first place because of Anderson's remarkable talent for making people interesting. (p. 34)

The porters in this film … belong to a different world from the people in O Dreamland. The fact that they might frequent a place like Dreamland in their spare time is irrelevant to what Anderson wants to tell us about them. Every Day Except Christmas is consistently idealistic. The more you analyse it, the more the detail adds up in this way. (p. 35)

In terms of toughness and maturity [This Sporting Life] takes a huge stride forward from Every Day Except Christmas…. This Sporting Life is the most passionate film that has ever emerged from a British studio…. (p. 48)

Everywhere in the film, a particularly vivid kind of authenticity can be taken for granted, and yet it was, and still is, a very rare quality. (p. 50)

[If …] could be interpreted as being about the way in which people blind themselves to reality, cut themselves off from emotion, refuse to see both life and death as they really are. The threshold between fantasy and reality in the film is then something that must vary according to how much reality the individual spectator can bear. And the film's supreme achievement is in enabling audiences to interpret it according to their own idea of what is real. (p. 83)

Elizabeth Sussex, in her Lindsay Anderson (© 1969 by Movie Magazine Limited; reprinted by permission of Movie), Frederick A. Praeger, Publishers, 1970, 96 p.

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