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HomeReview‘A Sudden Glimpse To Deeper Things’: Karlovy Vary Review

‘A Sudden Glimpse To Deeper Things’: Karlovy Vary Review

Dir/scr: Mark Cousins. UK. 2024. 88mins

Mark Cousins brings his distinctively poetic and enquiring method to this elegiac cine-essay exploring the inventive lifetime of twentieth century Scottish summary artist Wilhelmina Barns-Graham. A key member of the St Ives group, Willie, as she was identified, was dismissed by critics as an also-ran for a lot of her profession. Cousins’s movie harnesses Willie’s free-wheeling, associative approach of trying and pondering to discover how her neurodiversity – she had synesthesia – and different elements formed her work.

Cousins’s movie harnesses Willie’s free-wheeling, associative approach of trying and pondering 

Cousins’s ardour for his topic is infectious – he even will get a Wilhelmina Barns-Graham tattoo at one level – and it’s unimaginable to not admire his willpower to keep away from artwork world documentary cliches. Nonetheless the give attention to the work at first can really feel just a little single-minded and even limiting; a contact extra biographical background color wouldn’t have gone amiss.

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A Sudden Glimpse To Deeper Issues – the title quotes an entry in Willie’s diary a couple of pivotal occasion within the artist’s life – premieres in the primary competitors in Karlovy Range and may generate curiosity at additional festivals. UK-Eire rights have been picked up by Scotland-based distributor Conic upfront of the pageant, with a launch dated for October 2024. Whereas Barns-Graham maybe doesn’t have the identify recognition and pulling energy of a few of Cousins’s different current topics, resembling Alfred Hitchcock, Orson Welles and cinema basically, the director’s personal status ought to function a promoting level for artwork world and cine-literate audiences.

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Cousins introduces his topic by a collection of photographs of her in later life: a good-looking, silver-haired aged girl with wise footwear and a water-resistant jacket. He challenges the assumptions that we’d make concerning the little previous woman within the photos, regularly peeling again prosaic particulars to disclose the unconventional, starkly lovely work that she produced.

Willie got here from cash, this a lot is revealed. She was born in St Andrews, Fife in 1912, right into a household of landed gentry. Her authoritarian father would deliver a whip to the dinner desk, in an effort to self-discipline these whose conversational subjects displeased him. He was firmly against Willie’s ambition to change into an artist, and it was, partly, to flee her household that Willie relocated to St Ives in 1940. There she discovered a neighborhood of like-minded artists – one thing which is quite glossed over within the movie, which prefers to give attention to the inspiration that she drew from the standard of the sunshine in Cornwall and the visible rhythms of the pure world.

However, Cousins argues, Willie’s most profound and life-changing second got here throughout a go to to Switzerland in 1949, when she climbed the Grindelwald glacier. The panorama fascinated her, and would offer her with inspiration for many years to come back. Cousins, barely misleadingly, describes it as an “an infection” in certainly one of a number of indirect chapter headings. However the cumulative energy of the work is arresting: Cousins exhibits us the affect of exploring the glacier on her inventive output in a easy however highly effective slideshow montage, accompanied by an exaltant rating by Linda Buckley. Elsewhere, Tilda Swinton narrates passages from Willie’s diaries, and the movie additionally consists of audio recordings of the artist herself plus illuminating contributions from Lynne Inexperienced, an artwork historian and the writer of a guide on Barns-Graham.

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Not the whole lot works: a segue through which Cousins worries {that a} Barns-Graham portray, purchased for him at public sale, is perhaps a pretend is an odd digression. And an account of a Willie-themed artwork set up, created by Cousins, sits just a little awkwardly within the movie. These, nonetheless, are balanced out by moments of placing magnificence. The movie mounts a convincing argument that Wilhelmina Barns-Graham’s unfairly sidelined artwork is effectively value celebrating.

Manufacturing firm: BOFA Productions

Worldwide gross sales: Reservoir Docs doc@reservoirdocs.web

Producer: Adam Dawtrey, Mary Bell

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Cinematography: Mark Cousins

Enhancing: Timo Langer

Music: Linda Buckley


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