The South Bank Show (2002) 30 min.
To celebrate the 25th season of the South Bank Show, Tony Harrison was commissioned to revisit the film Night Mail (1936). The resulting film / poem Crossings is shown at the end of the programme.
This edition of the South Bank Show looks at the original GPO Film Unit Night Mail and the making of the film / poem Crossings through the working methods and practices of Harrison in completing his response to the original film.
Crossings (2002) 20min
Directed by: David Thomas and Tony Harrison
South Bank Show ITV
Producers: David Thomas
Using the closing of the mail train service from London to Scotland, and as a tribute to Auden and the film Night Mail, Harrison’s Crossings film / poem creates both an elegy and a state-of-the-nation protest in a film / poem that links the final journey of the ‘Lady in Red’ to imagined characters waiting for important letters.
“Crossings is an absorbing and brilliantly observed commentary on the state of Britain, which will have appeal far beyond the usual poetry-reading public.” – Daily Telegraph
V (1987) 40min
Writer: Tony Harrison
Director: Richard Eyre
Production Companies: LWT
Distribution: Channel 4
Inspired by discovering his parents vandalised grave in a Leeds cemetery Harrison uses the graffiti on the graves to explore the social divisions of the day and industrial decline.
A profound, compassionate work about the obscenities of British life and the waste of human potential, and of the ‘V’ of all the versus, right v left and fascism v communism, but also of hope that societies polarities will disappear and ‘V” will come to mean, victory. V remains a timeless portrayal of working-class aspirations.
“One of the most powerful, profound and haunting poems of modern times.” – Bernard Levin
“Harrison has brilliantly taken classical themes such as death, graves and growing up and dealt with them in a way relevant to young people today.” – Melvin Bragg