Archive

Monthly Archives: June 2013

Multiculturalism and it’s core concepts have had a fair share of bad press in recent months.

Yet as a resident of Northern Ireland spending the last three years in Cardiff as a student has been an eye-opening experience due to the variety of nationalities and cultures present in the city. In fact this is one of the very reasons why I have come to like it so much. In Northern Ireland the impact of a long-term non-integration and segregation between different communities, despite the overwhelming progress since the peace process was implemented, is very difficult to fully heal. We can see this in recent events like the unrest over the withdrawal of the British flag which temporarily heightened these omnipresent tensions and the existing threat from the Dissident IRA, however small. Looking at the historical context of this issue, Northern Ireland was created as a result of a political situation. This historical situation was created by both the policies and tactics of the British government and opposing Irish nationalist forces during the late 19th and early 20th century. Indeed today we see in Syria the consequences of outside forces on exacerbating sectarian violence in that country and the surrounding region.

On a recent volunteering project within Shelley Gardens and the immediate area, in Cardiff, I was given the chance to engage with members of a local community where a degree of tension seems to exist between older and newer, mainly Roma residents from Europe. This is linked to a redevelopment in the area which it appears existing residents were not consulted on. It is now the central part of the tension here due to how the new residents use and congregate around it.

What struck me from the research I was involved in during this experience and was interesting to find out is the range of countries these individuals come from. This included Iraq, Greece, Sudan and the Czech Republic. The written words of a child originally from Sudan which include “The president kill people” is quite affecting in its simplicity but quite horrific connotation’s. In this context it strikes me that we should surely be prouder of our nation that people consider this country as a safe heaven to escape the very real danger of their former lives.

How it is implemented within existing communities at a local level is therefore critical. Engaging with the residents of this area it seemed they talked in a more grounded sense than the policies of local or national government who, though perhaps understandably, find it difficult from their position above to realize the intricate inter-relational nature of the community on the ground. They explained to me that it in their view that a central problem lies with attempting to house too many people at once in already segregated areas where a slower and more considered integration of new members within the area would be more effective at establishing better inter-community relationships.

As a consequence of our multicultural policies and its related bureaucracy this may in fact limit the ability of multiculturalism to grow organically and a healthy rate. These views are supported by an Institute of Race Relations report by Jenny Browne which states “multiculturalism lost its anti-racist roots from the 1970’s and remit and became institutionalised. It ceased to be an outcome of the struggle for equality emanating from below,and became, instead, policy imposed from above. And as the anti-racist component ebbed, multiculturalism degenerated into a competitive culturalism or ethnicism which set different groups against one another”. The riots that exploded in the early 1980’s due to minorities demanding a more equal stake in British society at a time when many faced marginalization due to poverty and other factors resulted in this change in wider policy. Certainly this argument certainly seems to support the views I heard on the street.

15022009(034)#1

A piece of Graffiti-like writing I came across on the side of a building within the community.

Another member of the community, however, commented on the positive impact of these different cultures, remarking that it was like having the world on your doorstep. Yet in the form of a managed and organised diversity we are inadvertently compromising a positive opportunity for individuals like the Sudanese child I mentioned earlier while potentially encouraging distinct groups with the community. It is important that we respect the differing rights of various ethnicities but such a such respect mustn’t discourage communities from mixing.

An interesting case of a more apparent successful case of multiculturalism is that of Australia. In his book Don’t Go Back To Where You Came Dr Tim Soutphommasane explains this arguable progress has occurred because “Australia has had a nation-building approach to multiculturalism. What that means is that immigrants are expected to make a transition to become citizens over time, and that you can be Australian in more ways than one”

In contrast to many other countries a report by the country’s Migration concluded that Australia has also promoted permanent settlement and access to citizenship as a central plank of an integrative multiculturalism approach, therefore aiming to celebrate and value the benefits of cultural diversity for all Australians and encouraging shared responsibility. Within this there have been also elements including English language tuition, settlement services, and an explicit policy of equal access to government services

The Multicultural Development Association, included in the report, further states that in Australia “multiculturalism is a source of strength, opportunity and unity. It has never been about cementing divisions between people but rather galvanising the whole community to work together to promote the fundamental principles and values of our shared Australian society and our inclusive citizenship: respect for the rule of law, democracy, freedom, justice, unity, equality, opportunity, gender equity, the right to participate and tolerance”

Arguably what this and the broader evidence indicates is that we need in this country is a bit more trust on all sides within society.

Advertisements

The discussion of Hammer’s place in the horror genre often disguises that fact that in its very earliest form the first Hammer Film production was actually released as early as July 1935. This was the title Mystery of The Mary Celeste starring the great Bela Lugosi. Despite the events of WW2 forcing Hammer Film Productions to reform the studio had a significant  further history of non-horror output due to subsequent films from the late 1940’s that were called ‘quota quickies’. These included shorts like Crime Reporter and Who Killed Van Loon. Their first foray into science fiction horror was with The Quatermass Experiment in 1955 as a result of studio founder; William Hinds clever acquisition of the highly successful British TV series of the same name.

Yet Hammer is mentioned to a genre fan then many will likely immediately think of the iconic Peter Cushing in the excellent Curse of Frankenstein (1957) and its sequels or Christopher Lee and Cushing in Dracula (1958). Though this is understandable, since it was undeniably a global phenomenon for Hammer and the origin for the cycle of gothic pictures that put Hammer on the horror map and ensured its distinguished place in the genre’s history. Running alongside these Gothic pictures however were their own contemporary forms of more psychological suspense during the 1960’s called ‘Pyscho-Thrillers’, due to the influence of the success of Hitchcock’s Pyscho (1960). Admittedly the majority do not have the same impact as their more classic horror pictures but a few are certainly worth a watch for any dedicated horror fan. Freddie Francis who directed several of these films was, for example the cinematographer on the genre classic The Innocents (1961), so this at least should give an indication to the degree of their quality. In addition the screenwriter for many of these ‘Psycho-Thrillers’ was the same individual also wrote Curse of Frankenstein.

Scream of Fear (1961) – Alt Title: Taste of Fear

Scream of Fear

Seth Holt was at the helm of this impressive effort – and this horror fan’s personal favourite of the bunch – that conveys a pervasive air of paranoia, suspense and mystery throughout. Gorgeous monochrome photography by Douglas Slocombe (later involved in the Indiana Jones trilogy for Steven Spielberg) greatly benefits the picture. Furthermore it features perhaps the strongest performance in perhaps of all of the films on this list from Susan Strasberg as the central female character Penny Appleby. She is also supported also by a fine co-performance by Christopher Lee. The film’s script by Jimmy Sangster – originally entitled ‘See No Evil’ – also presents the audience with several effective twists at its conclusion. It also prevents the narrative throughout from predictability despite the clear influence of  french horror Les Diabloques (1955) in several sequences. To a horror fan, like me, who had not seen Les Diabloques previously this was still a very enjoyable and effective psychological thriller that ranks for me among the best of Hammer’s output during the 1960’s across all sub-genres. According to a quote by Christopher Lee himself it would seem he concurs, stating this was among his fine roles he undertook at Hammer studios.

Paranoiac (1963)

paranoiac

After Oliver Reed played Leon Corledo, the tormented individual in Hammer’s only werewolf film, 1961’s excellent Curse of the Werewolf (1961,) he continued his early career with Hammer films in the horror genre with Paranoiac. This was Hammers own adaption of Josephine Tey’s novel Brat Farrar. Although Jimmy Sangter’s script is clearly influenced by Pyscho here as we see in twists within the films own narrative the studio had actually acquired the rights to the novel ten years earlier, with the film in fluxing stages of development since.  Oliver Reed himself gives a very powerful performance as our main character Simon Ashby. He is supported well by Jimmy Sangster’s script while Freddie Francis direction is benefitted by elegant cinematography by Arthur Grant.

Nightmare (1964)

nightmare_1964_poster_02

Another film directed by Freddie Frances with John Wilcox this time as cinematographer. Interestingly it stars Brenda Bruce, who appeared as the first victim of Mark Lewis in the pre-credits sequence of Peeping Tom (1960), as a teacher to our main character Janet. In terms of narrative devices (and indeed the title) this has perhaps the most similarity to Pyscho. It does however also display parallels to the Patrick Hamilton play Gaslight which already had two films to its name. These elements along with its inferior script perhaps make it, among this series of films, one of the weakest but other aspects such as the presence of another accomplished actress; Moira Redmond in supporting roles and her strong performance make it worth a watch.

The Nanny (1965)

nanny-the-poster-3

Bette Davies is the Nanny in this title which is directed by Scream of Fear’s Seth Holt. Though she starred in the more famous psychological thriller Whatever Happened To Baby Jane (1962) this is claimed by some critic’s to supersede the sinister atmosphere of the aforementioned title with its own air of nuanced suspense. Bette Davies also at least equals her performance here to that in the aforementioned title. In essence it is a examination of grief in a family unit and its relation to the sinister motives of the families child. To this degree the development of the narrative within the film draws parallels with earlier depictions of childhood in horror cinema such as the adaption of the William Marsch novel The Bad Seed 11 years previously. Much like that film, Holst’s approach to Jimmy Francis’s screenplay is subtle and nuanced in regards to films various elements. The result is equally effective as this direction contrasts with the film’s quite dark and challenging themes. Judging by the result Holt seems to have realised you don’t need explicit imagery to achieve the desired effect as he builds an atmosphere of dread. To this degree the film at times recalls the most disturbing and effective scenes that come near the conclusion of The Bad Seed (1956).