The White Review hosts a screening of Powell & Pressburger’s Gone To Earth at the Institute of Contemporary Arts on Thursday 25 October. The film will be introduced by writer and critic Brian Dillon. Please visit the ICA website to book a seat for the screening.
Gone to Earth is based on Mary Webb’s melodramatic novel of 1917: the tale of a wild-natured young woman (played by Jennifer Jones) torn between the love of a meek Baptist minister (Cyril Cusack) and the local squire (David Farrar). Several of Powell and Pressburger’s better known films — especially A Canterbury Tale and I Know Where I’m Going — are in thrall to a mystical view of British landscape. In Gone to Earth, that magic and Romanticism are weirdly lurid and over-stated; the film imputes an absurd degree of eroticism and energy to the Shropshire countryside where it was shot. It’s an oddity, even an embarrassment, among Powell and Pressburger’s films – compromised by co-producer David O. Selznick’s obsessive relationship with Jones. But at a time when so many British artists and writers — from Tacita Dean to Robert Macfarlane — are revisiting Romantic conceptions of landscape, it’s also a fascinating instance of a postwar picturesque. Dir. Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, UK 1950, 110 mins, Cert PG.
Brian Dillon is a writer and critic, and UK editor of Cabinet magazine.He contributes regularly to art magazines, newspapers and journals in the UK, USA and Ireland, as well as writing books that range in subject matter from contemporary art to the history of hypochondria, the physical space of writing to the aesthetics of decay.