Tuesday’s Overlooked A/V: Penda’s Fen

Big birthday wishes to my li’l brother, Bertie. He wouldn’t want me posting a picture that was not pre-approved or artfully touched up, so I will refrain from posting that pouty school photo from when he was about seven…

Much as I might be tempted.

Today’s overlooked A/V owes a big thanks to Mr B, who pointed me to where Iain Rowan blogged about this film (and more owls — awesome! [wait, not supposed to say that anymore; what did we come up with? Prodigious! I don’t think it’s going to work out though…]). Ahem.

Let’s go back to a magical time: 1974. Okay, no so much magical as really really weird, especially when you consider British television. And not just scary PSAs, just really weird programs — often aimed at kids! I give you Penda’s Fen, which you can watch in its entirety online [so sorry the video freeze frames on an instance of animal cruelty! not intentional but I guess that will warn some of you away — apologies!].

This is a film that would have trouble airing now in the States. Never mind that it deals with Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius and Manichaeism (o_O) and homoeroticism, it also deals with the relationship between paganism and Christianity; not simply as atavistic past threatening its ‘evolutionary’ successor, but with a faith in the power of that pagan past and with a view of Christianity as a corrupt reflection of mechanised modernity.


Among the things that would doubtless give many fundies apoplexy, there’s the suggestion that Joan of Arc might have been a follower of the Old Religion. The titular pagan Anglo-Saxon king offers a positive model, too. One of the real knock-outs of the film are the dream sequences which are truly unsettling in a very simple way. Two words: uncanny angel! Really creepy! I suspect this film alone may have warped a generation. Wonderful!

As always, catch up on all the recommendations over at Sweet Freedom.

And yes, it’s the last day to vote in the Preditors & Editors Poll…