The Winter Guest

The title suggests Christ or the equinox. If the scenery is a properly rugged attempt to come to terms with Bergman, the critics will be surprised to discover that the theme is to all intents and purposes identical with that of The Eiger Sanction, arranged not vertically and sequentially but horizontally and simultaneously.

It is quite true, as Godard asserts in Éloge de l’Amour, that films are nowadays governed by marketing and not by production. Hence the rescission of the director’s prerogative as maker of films, and the application of whatever gifts he may possess to the simpler art of the shill. And, may you mark this, marketing is even a lost art, being left to the boss’s nephew’s twitching fanny to determine—a sale sold by an idiot.

At first sight there is Rickman’s eye for landscape. There has not been anything so striking in this way since Byron Haskin went to Australia to film Long John Silver. It’s a genuine discovery, and Rickman ought to have been flown over to Ireland for The Beckett Film Project, above all as he has a special gift for filming actors at work.

Or so it seems to one who has lately watched non-directors marring even scripts of the highest water, and everything else besides.

All of Picasso’s big nudes are himself, and all of Rickman’s characters are played by Rickman as it were. This is a remarkable feat of the empathetic imagination, or beginner’s luck; whatever it is, it makes for more bearable performances than one is wont to see from Britain these days—where they are remaking The Forsyte Saga not to improve but to efface a superior job. He is quite a good actor, and his identity with the cast is armor or its opposite—it makes for the security or the nakedness (or the nudity, I forget Sir Kenneth Clark’s remarks on this subject) that puts actors in contact with the camera.

It’s a very busy camera, making his pictures, not doing anything overmuch fancy. Scotland is the place of Carlyle and Burns, you forget and now remember. The planes of a face turning from a window in a room, a house isolated Delft-like in a late afternoon light, the seacoast rigorous and pallid with greens and blues from the Ice Age or thereabouts, all surround things that happen, like the armature of a Shakespeare fantasy.