Friday, May 18, 2012
Movie Review: The Spirit of Albion
"The Spirit of Albion" is a remarkable accomplishment. A musical movie (adapted from a stage production) based on the music of Damh the Bard, it tells the story of three ordinary young people with problems who encounter some of the gods and learn a little about the much larger and more wondrous world that modern life cuts them off from.
The film opens and closes with Damh performing -- "Pagan Ways" at the start, "The Spirit of Albion" at the end. In between, we meet George, Annie and Esther, three people undergoing difficult times who are led to a campfire in the forest by mysterious figures. There they learn deeper truths about the world in which they live, their eyes opened by figures who will be familiar to those who know the Irish and Welsh pantheons.
I could quibble over some points. It would have been nice if the elder gods looked a little more, well, elder ... the actors all appear to be under 30. It would have been nice if at least one of the people encountering the gods wasn't in the grip of depression and uncertainty -- not all spiritual quests are born in angush. Some of the cast memebers were not the best singers. And I don't fully understand why Damh's performance of "Pagan Ways" comes at the beginning, rather than at the end when it would sum up some of the key elements of the story.
The only real criticism I have, though, is of a line near the beginning, when the gods are described as the gods humans created. I'm a bit disappointed that they felt a need to pick a side in that theological debate (whether the gods exist objectively or are archetypes of human characteristics) and that they chose that particular side.
These are all, ultimately, small things. Given the budgetary constraints they had to live with, they did an extraordinary job. I encourage everyone to buy a copy -- heck, buy several and give them as gifts -- because support for this sort of independent filmmaking will help keep it going.