Peter Weir Ed Peltier - Essay

Ed Peltier

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Music and poetry are the arts most difficult to transfer to cinema. Peter Weir, an imaginative Australian writer-director, has accomplished this most successfully in the film Incredible Floridas. It derives its title from a line in a poem by Arthur Rimbaud: "I've struck, I tell you, incredible floridas" [the Spanish word for "full of flowers, choice or select"].

The film is built around the musical homage paid the 19th century French poet by 41-year-old Richard Meale, a leader in contemporary music in Australia. In his own words Meale reveals his early interest in Rimbaud's poetry, his fascination with the poet, and his many attempts over a period of years to put his feeling for Rimbaud into music.

Through uncluttered cinematic devices and with this music as background, the viewer becomes intimately acquainted with both Meale the composer, and Rimbaud the poet, in a linkage though 100 years apart in time, of these two creative minds….

There will be viewers of this film who will be made curious about Rimbaud; others will be stimulated to greater knowledge of Meale and to developments in the musical life of Australia of which a glimpse is given here….

The narration is well paced, its delivery readily understandable. Together, the director and the cameraman have captured the brooding, haunting quality of both Meale's music and Rimbaud's poetry to an extent rarely developed in a film on the two arts.

Ed Peltier, "'Incredible Floridas'," in Film News (© Rohama Lee, d/b/a/Film News Company), Vol. 31, No. 2, April-May, 1974, p. 33.