Cat no. 437

Never And Always

Running time~53:00 Colour Sound 1977 Norfolk, Norfolk

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A montage of clips depicting an impressionist's view of Norfolk

Genre:

Avant-garde

This is an impressionistic film of the film makers' view of Norfolk. The themes of the film, time, the passing seasons and changes occurring in the world are present throughout the film. They are represented by symbols or images and are intercut with general impressions of Norfolk and the film's features. Time is represented by a swinging pendulum, by a variety of clocks and, more sinister, a gravedigger. The seasons are shown by images from that season; daffodils, lambs, the harvest, or snow covered fields. Changes in the world are depicted by (usually) elderly people sitting reading newspapers to quotations of the 'shock, horror,' headlines of tabloid journalism. These scenes offer views of interiors of houses. Some robots make a few appearances. Norfolk itself is represented by a number of images deemed typical.

There are scenes around the Norfolk village of Great Massingham; an artist at work, farming and boating scenes; fruit picking, forestry; beach scenes and village cricket; bell ringing. These contrast with modern images of stock car racing, possibly at Swaffham. One of the features in the film is of the Cromer crab fishing industry. There are shots back to the town from the sea, showing the pier and the Church. The crab boats are filmed at work at sea and then return to the shore where they are hauled from the water. The crabs are washed and dressed and a fisherman mends a crab pot. Richard Davies and his wife talk about their life, fishing and running a wet fish shop. Richard Davies also talks about his other involvement with the sea; as coxswain of the Cromer lifeboat. He is the fourth generation of his family to cox the lifeboat. (Henry Blogg was a step-brother to the Davies's.) There is film of the lifeboat out on exercise.

Further images of Norfolk follow, including the Gavioli Fairground organ at Thursford, before the next feature; Walter Smalls, an elderly basket maker and caner. He demonstrates his craft, emphasising that he works because he wants to - after all he is eighty. He is asked about his attitudes to life and death and he speaks of his psychic powers. This sequence also shows the interior of his cottage. An auction of birds follows, intercut with scenes from around Great Massingham; family and farming scenes, village scenes showing the shops and amenities and the children leaving school. These scenes conclude Part One.

Part Two opens in a similar manner. Villagers from Great Massingham talk of how their village has changed, in particular with regard to local amenities. Villagers speak of the days when they had six pubs, two chapels, a church, four bakers, three grocers, three carpenters, a tailor and two blacksmiths. Now, most of these have gone. A woman baking, speaks of her son in Canada. There are interior shots of the church. The peace of the village contrasts with scenes of heavy traffic and more stock car racing.

The next feature is a montage of stills and life shots of some of Norfolk's great stately homes. These scenes contrast the lives of rich and poor. Accompanying music from a music box, there are stills of 19th century farming scenes and of more wealthy people associated with the great houses of Blickling Hall and Holkham Hall. The interior of one of these houses is also filmed.There follows a montage sequence covering many Norfolk villages, beginning with Docking and Dersingham. Often these villages are represented by their village signs, but there are shots from some villages, including Langham and Hingham. The film returns to Great Massingham and highlights the dichotomy of Great Massingham being declared a conservation area when it is not on the main sewer. We return to the Church, where preparations for the harvest festival are being made.

The next feature is of Blakeney and Stratton Long's boatyard. The interior of the yard shows men at work building a fibreglass boat and there is a shot of the shop on the high street. Stratton Long talks about his life and of the many jobs he tried before the war. After the war he turned to boat building.The film ends with further images of Norfolk, showing broad scenes with ruined mills. It concludes with images of its main theme, the passing seasons. Winter scenes of snow covered fields, lead into images of spring; lambs, daffodils, primroses and snowdrops.

Notes:

Banningham, Norfolk, 1979, The Old Rectory.Denis Mitchell wrote the following note about the film. We had been making a considerable number of films for Granada Television and in 1976 they kindly suggested that my wife and I should take a sort of Sabbatical and - if we felt like it - make just one film over the course of a year in Norfolk, where we live. The result was an hour's film ostensibly about the seasons but which reflected my rather gloomy feelings about Britain. The title comes from a poem by T.S. Eliot; the lines in the music box sequence are by G.K. Chesterton; the quotation in the autumn sequence is by Sir Thomas Browne; the poem which interrupts the wedding is from Bagpipe Music by Louis MacNeice.Writing in the Sunday Times on June 19th, 1977, Denis Potter accused Mitchell of not ... observing a mood, but participating in it. Mitchell's admission above suggests that he probably wouldn't have disagreed with this.Walter Smalls. Walter Smalls, known as Stanley, was a basket maker from North Creek. The willows, after which he named his cottage and from which he made his baskets were in his garden. He also made honey and jam as well as growing grapes, tomatoes and other conservatory plants. He claimed that there hadn't been a living to be made in basket making since 1912. There are some exhibits of his work in the Norwich Museum. He died in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Kings Lynn on 28th July, 1979, aged 83.

Featured People:

Richard Davies, fisherman and coxswain of the Cromer lifeboat; Mrs. Davies; Stratton Long, boat builder; Walter Smalls, basket maker

Featured Buildings:

Blickling Hall; St. Peter and St. Pauls' Church, Cromer; St. Mary's Church, Great Massingham; Holkham Hall

Granada Television

Denis Mitchell

Denis Mitchell

Denis Mitchell

John Shann

Brian Tagg

Mike Moran

Adam Alexander; Ivan Sharpe; John Whitworth

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