31 Jan 2010

Edge of Darkness without Mel Gibson



This weekend Mel Gibson’s acting career was relaunched with Edge of Darkness and if there is one good thing I can say about this, it’s that it may direct a new generation of viewers back to director Martin Campbell’s original BBC mini-series. A real product of its time, the 1985 Edge of Darkness dramatised the claustrophobic oppression and fear and mistrust that many of us remember feeling towards the Establishment during that long Thatcher winter.

Mel Gibson has an uncanny knack of finding things, otherwise obscure, which I really care about and mangling them. His Jesus is an actor in a sadistic play and his indigenous are rescued by the Catholic Church and the Spanish (who killed millions of indigenous people).

I suspect he has done it again.

In 1985 the BBC produced a classic, a tight piece of film noir, with all the flavours of conspiracy and repression which marked British politics at the time.

On all sorts of levels from pure entertainment to intellectual provocation it had the nation spell bound, shown first on BBC 2, it was immediately re-run on BBC 1 because of the huge demand in an age before VHS, DVD and youtube.

Over six episodes it had us all on the edge of our seats.

Loyalist terrorists in collusion with the state, corrupt union bosses, a truly repellent lefty Terry Shields from Socialist Advance, a plain speaking hero, the CIA, Earth First!ers, golf, Zoe Wanamaker, it was all packed in.

Well there were elements that lost us all but still a stunning piece of work and a monument to the dark side of Thatcherism and the corporate dominated world within which we now live.

Not everything about the Mel Gibson version is rubbish, it has some of the old team involved but Mel as the late great Bob Peck I don't think so.

The opening shots of the 1985 original , which I have yet to locate on the web, show a left green political meeting with that stalwart of the Bennite left of the Labour Party Michael Meacher, playing himself. Part two above

If you were around and watching BBC in Britain in the 1980s give your self a treat, if you did not have this dubious pleasure, take a look at the DVD of the original Edge of Darkness, an utter classic.

Bit too deep ecology for me but hey, its the plot, the filming and the script that count.

And beware spoliers, the vid above is really just an introduction.

1 comment:

HeavyLight said...

Saw the movie this afternoon and, as long as you don't compare it too closely, it's not too bad.

Nothing like the impact of the original but quite hard-hitting and poignant for Hollywood.

Obviously, your mileage may vary...