Gone But Not Forgotten
- Aug 18, 2002
- Reaction score
Lots of comments on that Beeb page.Water horror
STOP LOOK LISTEN
The Magazine's Public Information Film festival
Watch the film
Every day in February, the Magazine is featuring a classic public information film from the past 60 years, concluding with a vote to find the nation's favourite.
The Rolf Harris film featured in this series on Wednesday was notable for its straight treatment of the subject; in short "get your kids taught to swim because horrible things might happen if you don't".
Today's film is from completely the other end of the spectrum: it is, in fact, a mini-horror production. If you are of a sensitive disposition, please click away now.
STOP LOOK LISTEN
Stop Look Listen is the Magazine's festival of Public Information Films, with the National Archives and the COI
The film, from 1973, is called Lonely Water.
As you'll know if you watch the video of this film, it's seriously scary. So scary, indeed, that one Magazine reader, Adam from Madrid, has vivid memories of it, more than 30 years after it was made.(The opening scene is a mysterious dark stretch of water. The voiceover, by Donald Pleasence, is ghoulish and threatening.)
VOICE: I am the Spirit of Dark and Lonely Water, ready to trap the unwary, the show-off, the fool, and this is the kind of place you'd expect to find me.
(Cut to children playing on tip)
VOICE: But no-one expects to find me here ... it seems too ordinary. But that pool is deep. The boy is showing off. The bank is slippery.
(Boy slips down bank into small deep pool - other children look on, terrified.
Then cut to scene of duck pond, with a boy hanging on branch over the water, trying to reach something)
VOICE: The show-offs are easy. But the unwary ones are easier still. This branch is weak, rotten, it'll never take his weight.
(Branch cracks, ducks quack, the Spirit is seen turning away through the reeds.
Cut to sign saying "DANGER - No swimming")
VOICE: Only a fool would ignore this. But there's one born every minute. Under the water there are traps. Old cars, bedsteads, weeds, hidden depths. It's the perfect place for an accident.
(Boy in pool shouts for help, Spirit appears by water side. But then other children's voices are heard. )
BOY : Oy look there's someone in the water. Get us that big stick to get him out.
(Spirit turns round, startled to see pesky kids interfering with his plan)
VOICE: Sensible children! I have no power over them!
BOY: Oy mate that's a stupid place to swim. Hey go over there and get that thing to wrap him in.
(Other child finds Spectre's cape on floor, like a fallen Obi-Wan Kenobi.)
BOY: You don't half feel cold mate. How long was you in there?
(GIRL picks up cape and is disgusted, throws it in water)
VOICE: I'll be back (heavy echo repeats)
"The spirit of Dark Lonely Water would make a great Japanese horror film," he says. "Talk about leaving a lasting impression, I'm nearly 40 and I can still remember how terrified I felt by the image of the dirty monk's habit being tossed into the water and the pre-Arnie 'I'll be back' line."
Another reader, John, London, wrote: "It scared the bejeezus out of me."
Yet another, Ralph Tonge of Nottingham, said: "It actually was scarier than the thing it was warning about... I wonder who directed it? William Friedkin? David Lynch?"
It really is sinister, the point being presumably to scare children witless whenever they are near water. No bad thing, perhaps, but a slightly different approach to Rolf's enthusiastic "if they get that confidence in the water, they love it".
The horror mask metaphorically slips in the line: "Sensible children. I have no power over them." One can almost imagine the director, having to satisfy competing interests of horror and public education, making a belated nod towards the latter.
Other observations modern readers might make include approval of the way the first child wears his anorak by the hood only, to achieve the full 1970s superhero cape effect. It might also occur to them that little piece of authenticity is marred slightly by the children's dialogue - they speak to each other in the way adults imagine children speak.
It's a curiosity that portrayals of children playing outside like this are not anywhere near as common as they once were. Might this be a reflection of how modern children spend their spare time?
Finally, anyone viewing this film might be put off when next they see a Marks and Spencer advert. There's an uncanny similarity between the way the Spirit relishes death and the way the firm's voiceover drools over a pile of "not just profiteroles".
Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/m ... 690150.stm
Published: 2006/02/09 10:47:02 GMT
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