All aboard the Magic Bus
Lindsay Anderson update part 1. Do you ever find one thing that brings together a whole heap of things you like in an unexpected way? Lindsay Anderson's film The White Bus (shown at the GFT a couple of weeks ago) did it for me. The film is about a young woman (played by Patricia Healey) who leaves her humdrum office job in London for a visit home. She joins a civic tour on an open-topped bus alongside the Mayor (Arthur Lowe) and various visiting dignitaries. That's about as far as the plot goes. Generally I like these sort of vaguely surreal, slightly meandering sorts of films. I feel inadequate for not engaging with complicated dramas or documentaries on burning issues but I could watch these sort of films all day. As an added bonus, The White Bus also contained the following, which will be recognisable as things I like:
- an unexpectedly Tati-esque soundtrack, but with banjos because it was in the North. The open landscapes and characters in national dress also reminded me of Playtime.
- a beautifully shot factory scene very similar to Maurice Broomfield's photos, noted the other week.
- a trip to a museum which was full of things in glass cases
- a visit to a library where there was a stereotypical librarian who looked very disapproving
- the idea of being a tourist in your own town, something that Nothing To See Here is all about
- the glorification of bus travel - I get the bus to work every day and enjoy a quiet think. The top deck is always the best;
- shots of grimy Manchester redolent of The Smiths. Also, it was based on a story by Smiths cover star Shelagh Delaney and was intended to be part of a trilogy (never realised) Red, White and Zero with films by Tony Richardson and Peter Brook.
- cinema connections - the film was originally shows as a supporting feature to Daisies, fab Czech film which is also one of my favourites.
It was shown with a documentary About The White Bus shot in the Free Cinema style which was a different take on film-making showing how laborious and mundane it actually is. It's remarkable that directors can visualise how 7 seconds of film captured one day in one place will join with another from another day and another place and another and another to make a coherent whole, particularly when one scene of The White Bus took so long to shoot on a cold morning that the leading lady fainted. Seeing her getting her feet rubbed in a desperate attempt to get some warmth back in cocks a snook at acting's glitzy reputation. It looked like a lot of hard work for not much in return. The documentary was a bit too much detail for some in the audience but I liked it. It doesn't seem to be out on DVD or anything but there's a few Lindsay Anderson things going on at the moment. Part 2 coming up next.