AKENFIELD

National Press Reviews (in date order)

 

Alexander Walker, Evening Standard, 25 July 1974

I have seen the rough-cut of the film and it is without doubt not only Hall's best work, but one of the best films - and certainly the most unusual - made in and about England

 

 

John Higgins, The Times, 9 October 1974

It is the subjectivity and honesty of Akenfield, its total lack of sentimental and picturesque ... that allows it to capture a part of England in a way that few films have done since the death of Humphrey Jennings

 

 

Alexander Walker, Evening Standard, 7 November 1974

But then Akenfield is itself an exceptional movie

 

 

Margaret Hinxman, Daily Mail, 23 November 1974

I hope I can whet your appetite for this beautiful and moving film. ... the non-professional cast play themselves as no pros ever could. And there are moments in it I shall never forget so long as my caring for film remains

 

 

Ken Wlaschin, London Film Festival Programme, November 1974

... Akenfield is a remarkable and important film ... combines documentary with fiction in a new manner ... The effect is low-key but extraordinarily moving and revealing

 

 

Mark Whitman, Films Illustrated, November 1974

For here is a film so deeply moving that two or three scenes must surely become cinematic history

 

 

Variety, 14 January 1975

It is funny and touching and seldom less than engrossing.  Ivan Strasburg's color photography is one of the conspicuous delights. His composition of the rolling English countryside is often lyrical, sometimes magical

 

 

Felix Barker, Evening News, 23 January 1975

... this outstanding film ... before I wax lyrical about this masterpiece ... you are in for a treat

 

 

Valerie Jenkins, Evening Standard, 23 January 1975

Peter Hall and Ronald Blythe have together woven a small masterpiece. The Michael Tippet music is sure to shoot to the top of the charts ... superbly natural performances make the film the success it is

 

 

Celia Brayfield, Evening Standard, 24 January 1975

Peter Hall's magnificent film ... exquisitely photographed ... The poetry and misery of life on the land are masterfully drawn

 

 

Margaret Hinxman, Daily Mail, 25 January 1975

... this unusual and moving film ... photographed with the eye of a Renoir by Ivan Strasburg. I can only say that if it looks half as good on television as it does in the cinema, it will still be an enormously rewarding experience. ... a remarkable tour de force from Garrow Shand. The villagers play themselves with the authority that grows out of authenticity. My advice: see it on television and then see it again in the cinema. It is worth a second viewing

 

 

Michael Ratcliffe, The Times, 25 January 1975

Peter Hall's new film ends with a heart-stopping moment which suggests the shuttering of time and remembrance in Bergman's Wild Strawberries, but such portentousness is uncharacteristic, for Akenfield is a resiliently English piece. ... these informal methods work marvellously well, with enthusiastic instincts producing truthfulness and spontaneity ... About the impact of the leading players, the beauty of the Edwardian scenes and the triumphantly enhancing use of music, there need be no reservations at all. ... the fragmented sorrows and happiness of nearly a hundred years are brought to glorious and incandescent life. These are the things for which Akenfield will be remembered and seen again. In my opinion, it should also be shown in the West End

 

 

Russell Davies, Observer, 26 January 1975

... well worth switching to this evening

 

 

Tom Hutchinson, Sunday Telegraph, 26 January 1975

... some of its images cling to the mind like loam to a spade. For all these things, and more Akenfield is worth seeing

 

 

Weston Taylor, News of the World, 26 January 1975

... a nostalgic masterpiece ... Don't miss it

 

 

Benny Green, Punch, 29 January 1975

... a pictorially sensitive, polemically powerful film. Above all, it contains human portraiture whose impact is more immediate and effect more profound than you can usually find in a month of Sundays in the modern cinema

 

 

Cinema TV Today,1 February 1975

... the amateur cast is a pure joy to watch. Akenfield is a rare work of art, as perfectly composed as a painting by Constable

 

 

Mollie Panter-Downes, The New Yorker, 24 February 1975

... superbly photographed by Ivan Strasburg, looks like a series of Constables ... it was a breath of wonderful fresh air in the stifling indoor studio plays, peopled by cardboard characters ..

 

 

David Castell, Honey Magazine, February 1975

Mr Hall has fashioned a film that is pretty well unique in the British cinema. It is dense and resonant, now funny, now moving in its desperate simplicity. Mr Hall's film is an elegiac hymn to family roots and native soil

 

 

Michael Billington, Illustrated London News, March 1975

Akenfieldis a rare film: one that relates the Britain of today to the Britain of the past. And, despite its structural complexity, it does so with skill and no little beauty

 

 

Richard Whitehall, FILMEX Programme, March 1975

The result is startlingly successful. There are moments of an Elizabethan splendour as experience is transmuted into language and imagery. The film does far more than simply record; it is an articulation by the villagers themselves of the historical and emotional processes which shape their lives. The result is one of the most innovative of British films

 

 

Film Review, 1975

Peter Hall's imaginative and original film ... Brilliant editing of the wholly amateur cast's efforts adds an authenticity otherwise impossible to obtain

 

 

Greta Lamb, Tatler, March 1975

Thank you Ronald Blythe, Peter Hall and Rex Pyke