Saturday, 25 January 2014

Under Milk Wood

By a complete fluke I have been finishing up The Dylan Thomas Omnibus without knowing it was the 60th anniversary year of the inspired radio play for voices, Under Milk Wood. I expect there’ll be some sleepy ass documentary on BBC2 tucked away on a Thursday night, only I haven’t got a TV. The Omnibus concludes with the play, so I decided to detour and watch the 1972 Richard Burton film version for a bit of variety. I’m pretty sure Dylan Thomas would have approved of the creative and whacky overlay of the screenplay, whilst remaining faithful enough to the written word. Apparently Andrew Sinclair, the director of the1972 film, has gifted its rights to the people of Wales. He has handed control of the film, also starring Peter O'Tool  and Elizabeth Taylor, to a new Trust. Maybe that’s why it costs silly money on Amazon for it’s age and I can’t find any Youtube clips for pixel dust. Except this cheesy trailer:

"Come now, drift up the dark, come up the drifting sea-dark street now in the dark night seesawing like the sea, to the bible-black airless attic over Jack Black the cobbler's shop where alone and savagely Jack Black sleeps in a nightshirt tied to his ankles with elastic and dreams of chasing the naughty couples down the grassgreen gooseberried double bed of the wood, flogging the tosspots in the spit-and-sawdust, driving out the bare, bold girls from the sixpenny hops of his nightmares."

I don’t know what it is exactly about the play which has generated such a rich seam for artists of all descriptions to mine over the years. Perhaps it is the freakish cerebral rush of hearing so many unlikely words mish mashed over a mangle of sentiment and flummery. Maybe it’s the themes of taboo and eccentricity in closeted village life – its naughtiness,  that gives it an edge. Whatever it is, I am glad they do. Below are two such enterprises inspired by Under Milk Wood: Artwork from Peter Blake (2013), and music from the recently deceased legend Stan Tracey Jazz Suite inspired by Dylan Thomas' "Under Milk Wood" (1965).


 By South Utsire

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