Lindsay Anderson Peter Baker - Essay

Peter Baker

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[This Sporting Life] is more about life than sport, less about kitchen sinks than the people who live near them. It is also unique: which in Britain means it risks being misunderstood by the public, torn to shreds by the critics and ridiculed by the Wardour-street hucksters.

I had expected a simple film about simple people. What Anderson has done is to make as complicated a film as Welles' Citizen Kane about people as complicated as … you or me. It is the intensity of thought that has gone into This Sporting Life that compels attention and, finally, admiration. Whether in the final analysis it achieves communication, I am not so sure….

Anderson's film is almost a perfect example of the British temperament to compromise. It has no excesses: its very balance of style and content is as disarming in its conventionality as Burton beer and Cheddar cheese. Yet the one provides as substantial a meal for the mind as the other does for the belly. In a period in world cinema when one can only be square like Hitchcock or Hawks provided the hep youngsters like Truffaut or Godard applaud you, when almost any experiment is praised by almost every critic just because it is an experiment, when even the Italian renaissance is in danger of losing communication with its audiences through sheer intellectualism, it is good to find a new director who believes that art of its very nature owes some allegiance to...

(The entire section is 479 words.)