Thursday, December 13, 2007

Angel Mine

People who have read 6 Sick Hipsters often ask what "trivia" I made up and which is real. This is something the Annotated 6 Sick Hipsters website will address but here's an example: The whole "Angel Mine" section - banter between Swank (an artist who meets an ill end) and his pal - is based on a very real but really obscure film. Here is some info:

“Angel Mine (which came with the warning: ‘This film contains punk cult material!’) signalled in celluloid the arrival of punk and met with the kind of controversy you’d expect and more. ‘Angel Mine came out of nowhere and caught a lot of people by surprise,’ says Blyth. ‘Twenty years down the track I don’t know whether it’s so controversial. I’ve gone on and become far more middle of the road in terms of my film-making. … Blyth was coming to the end of his time at Auckland University where he had become influenced by European cinema rather than Hollywood as well as the values that went along with the music friends in a band were espousing. ‘We all came from the garage band. I was a garage film-maker. I used an old red Bolex and like the musicians didn’t have any formal education. They just got instruments and started making noises and I got a camera and started pointing it around the room. I thought ‘why wait to get experience?’ Everything was fermenting at the same time. The very first punk concert at Auckland University was raising money for Angel Mine. The thing about the film is that it was shot for $13,000 or $14,000, which meant I didn’t have to go to any of the authorities and have my script fettered. It was an attack on the great suburban dream of New Zealand, the whole focus on ‘get a job, get a house and a mortgage’, a whole philosophy which I guess punk was about questioning. … Despite the low budget and the controversy that followed the film’s release, many critics today, as then, have hailed Angel Mine as a superb piece of film-making.” (Mark Amery, Sunday Star-Times, 12 February 1995)

"There are no bohemians in Angel Mine. The couple, played by Derek Ward and Jennifer Redford, are confirmed city dwellers. In their sterile brand-new Lockwood show-home, isolated in the middle of a Pakuranga subdivision, haven for the nouveau riche, they try desperately to conform to the image of the ideal young couple in the commercials. They are surrounded by the material trappings that the slick advertisements insist are requisites for happiness: yet real happiness eludes them. The phantom doubles or Doppelgangers, dressed in shiny black vinyl suits, represent the physical, sensual, animalistic aspects of the couples' personalities, so effectively subliminated by the mass media." (Diana Ward/Art New Zealand, 1978)

"No locally made film has caused more hullabaloo since the advent of the State-sponsored NZ Film Commission than David Blyth's Angel Mine which premiered in Auckland in November and has since moved to other of the country's main cites. It has been the cause of renewed urgings to the Minister of Internal Affairs Alan Highet to tighten censorship law, and to the Government in general to carefully watch how the taxpayers money is being spent in the new surge towards a developed local film industry. Porn watchdog Patricia Bartlett, in particular, has been assiduous in penning letters to Government leaders and newspapers about what she sees as the degrading content of the film and the use of public money for such enterprises. In fact, Angel Mine, which has been made on a minuscule budget of about $30,000 and blown into 35mm from original 16mm footage, is much more than all the "put down" ballyhoo suggests... What it does is make a particularly strong statement about urban materialism and the corrosive nature of visual advertising in the context of the relationship - sexual and otherwise - of a suburban couple..."- (Mike Nicolaidi, Variety, January 10,1979)

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