SEARCHING FOR TRUTH IN A LAND OF FANTASY
Most films can be categorised - heavy drama, light comedy, kitchen
farce. The majority are variations of a winning theme. But on Tuesday
ITV presents an unusual 45-minute film concerned with deep, personal
Made for Granada TV by a young Argentinian director, Carlos Pasini,
and shot entirely
in Sardinia, A Point in Time is a modern allegory in which a young
takes a strange and fantastic journey to try to understand himself.
He meets a number of symbolic characters - Time, Fear, Love, Vanity
and Lust - and
has adventures that are both beautiful and horrifyingly violent
. . . by STEWART KNOWLES
CARLOS PASINI, a small, dark and intense Argentinian,
has aimed his film A Point in Time at people aged between
18 and 30. But to all who see it on Tuesday he says: "Watch it with
an open mind and find in it whatever meaning you
wish. But the first thing you have to do is try to understand yourself."
That is what the film is about a plea that before you attempt to
undertsand anyone else, try to accept yourself and your
own feelings. It is the allegorical and symbolic story of one young
man looking for himself in a land of fantasy.
When the idea was first outlined to producer James Brabazon, it
reminded him of The Pilgrim's Progress.
Although many people may see in it a modern treatment of this classic
allegory, Pasini, born in Buenos Aires in 1945,
has never read it and says he knows nothing about it. Some
may be interested in the 45-minute film because of the fiveminute
sequence in which three young women and actor Christopher Neame
appear nude. To those, Pasini says:
"I cannot say you are wrong if you see only rubbish, a bit of titillating
nudity. I wouldn't be disappointed if people
watch the documentary because there are naked people in it. But
eventually I hope the nudity will become explained
for them. I believe there is something utterly physical in what
you are and the best way to convey what you are seems
to me to be nudity."
The film begins with Arne studying the 16th-century
painting The Garden of Earthly Delights by Dutch artist
Hieronymous Bosch. He looks for meaning. "I look at people and paintings
and nothing seems to mean anything,"
he says. "Find yourself," says Time, a man in a dark blue suit,
"and you find the meaning . . ."
Accompanied by Time, Arne, full of wonder, "steps through" the painting
into a hot desert landscape and a series of
adventures that includes his own symbolic "death" and a banquet
in which old campaign medals are part of the food.
Pasini, who graduated from the Royal College of Art in 1969, has
worked on hard-headed factual programmes like
World in Action and This Week. Although he sees himself as a romantic,
he was sufficiently realistic to realise that his
idea for this film - sparked off, perhaps, by seeing the Bosch painting
in Madrid when he was 13 - might not be a
"commercial" proposition. "I wrote the treatment, but never thought
anyone would be interested," he says.
However, Granada's joint managing director, Denis Forman, was enthusiastic.
Producer Brabazon was told about "a very brilliant young director
from Argentina" with this interesting idea.
BRABAZON read the outline and wanted to know more about the director.
"On the basis of the outline," he says,
"the resulting film could have been terrible or it could have been
very interesting dept siding on the man who would
handle it. "I had always been interested in doing something for
television that was purely imaginative.
It is very dilficult to find a way of doing television that is not
concerned with prosaic fact.
" When it was decided to go ahead with the film, Brabazon and Pasini
looked for a location. "At this time last year,"
Brabazon recalls, "we were plodding around a sand pit near Bournemouth
where Carlos had already shot
The Immortal for BBC. "I, was very wet and damp and someone asked
why we didn't shoot in the Mediterranean.
Obviously, if you are going to try to shoot a mythical desert you
need light with a special quality and that would cost about £1,000
a week in terms of generators and lighting to achieve in Bournemouth.
My job was to assess the relative values of Bournemouth and Sardinia
and find out how to get there."
Thirty people - actors and film-makers - spent 13 working days in
Sardinia in early summer last year and it rained solidly throughout
one of them. That was the day set a side for the picnic sequence
with the girls and Christopher
Neame in the nude. The whole sequence had to be fitted into the
last three hours before the plane left to bring
them back to England. It is the picnic of a dream. Soft,
green grass to lie on with lazy summer sunshine overhead.
Three young women are sipping cool wine and eating ripe fruit. They
are unselfconsciously naked.
One, a blonde, is studying her face in a mirror. She is Vanity.
Love is another blonde; the brunette is Lust. When the young man,
Arne, finds them, their eyes are quizzical
and inviting. Slowly, they un-dress him. First, they take off his
shirt and then the beads from around his neck.
They feed him, give him drink, and caress him. It is erotic, gentle
and wistful. It is probably the most specific
full-frontal nudity so far seen on television - certainly as far
as a male actor is concerned - and yet it seems both
innocent and appropriate.
SUDDENLY the almost slow- motion, dream-like quality
of the mood is changed to violent night- mare.
A group of horsemen, led by Fear, come upon Arne. They give him
a horse, a cloak to cover his nakedness and invite
him to hunt with them in the forest. But Arne is the quarry. It
is now that the film becomes violent -though no more so
than the TV news from Vietnam or Northern Ireland - and the young
man witnesses his own symbolic death from a
spear. By the end of the film, Arne has returned to his original
position in an art gallery and has experienced
Fear as well as Vanity, Love and Lust.
Actor Christopher Neame was chosen for a particular quality in his
eyes. Originally Pasini considered Oliver Tobias,
who plays Arthur in the children's series Arthur of the Britons,
but decided he was "a bit too stocky."
Pasini saw Neame in an ITV play screened last year called Giants
and Ogres and decided he was right.
"The eyes had violence in them," says Pasini. The three girls were
chosen in Rome. A German blonde, Dorit Henke,
aged 19, was cast as Love. A 22year-old Italian brunette Giuliana
Giulianai plays Lust; and Vanity is another
Italian girl, 26-year-old blonde Nuccia Cardinale. "I had shown
the girls the outline of the film and told them
they had to appear absolutely naked and they agreed," says Pasini.
"I believe there is nothing wrong with your own
body and you have to accept your own body as it is. "Had I decided
to have them clothed, what would they have
worn? Would they have been dressed as Greek goddesses? Or would
they have been three ladies in hot pants ?
By being themselves, the whole thing is much more timeless." Pasini
says he made the film simply because he wanted
to. "I am either going to break my own head against the wall . .
. or I am going to be big in the film business," he says.