Thursday, 30 July 2015

Tilbury (1987) Vidar Vikingsson

Tilbury is based on an Icelandic legend of an imp born of a rib, wool and communion wine, that can be created by a lady in times of need to steal milk from neighbours cows, is fed through a nipple on her thigh and must kill her if anyone else discovers it. So the opening sees bones, cattle, a lady pouring communion wine on her boobs and yes, a thigh nipple. It's a good opening. Then we get to the story proper. A young swimming champ from the countryside sets out to Reykjavik to continue his training, but also in search of his childhood sweetheart who seems to have gone astray, he is also set on the case by her father, a priest. He finds that she is the lover of a strange older British officer (the film is set during the British occupation of the early 1940's) and that things are generally amiss. And things certainly continue amiss... 

This is one strange film. Not just strange for its plot, in the ways one might expect of a lesser known folk horror, with unfamiliar rules and conventions. Not just strange as a tale of a man out of place, struggling out of his element. Nor as a film of a place out of place, not the Iceland one might expect of locals and chilly beautiful scenery, but trenches, barracks, British soldiers about. This is strange in almost every scene, almost every line and action. There's a kind of poised unreality here, a sense of everything being off, but not inept or merely goofy, rather calculating, pregnant with Fate. And its all supported in the visuals and actions, often appealing, but forbidding too. Older girls swinging either side of the lead in childhood memory, commanding, seductive. One girl reclining on a top diving board as if the whole place is hers. A ball where passion and company turns to green lit stalking. These, and more obvious displays building both swiftly and gradually (the film is less than an hour long but doesn't feel hurried) to a violent conclusion. 

I was almost totally satisfied by this. Its skill matches its weirdness which is matched by an effectively creepy vibe. There's a little necessary blood and nudity, actually enhancing the mood rather than serving to amuse. And one can draw interesting points about the old ways and the new ways, about wartime, about people and relationships and commodities and so on. People who like films to basically hang tightly together, to give reasonable quarter to normality or be action driven or simply explicable may perhaps not want to apply, but for a certain kind of person I give this a strong recommendation. Woo hoo!!!

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