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Week #1/52: The Duke Of Burgundy and Mesmerisation…

The Duke Of Burgundy-Peter Strickland-Julian House-Intro-A Year In The Country-1
File Under: Trails And Influences / Year 2 Wanderings

Well, where to start with The Duke Of Burgundy…?

On initial glance and indeed for the first section of the film this could be seen to be something of a salacious piece of work – drawing from the more, ahem, stimulative side of the likes of Jess Franco’s tales which it is said in part to be a homage to…

…but very quickly this particular flickering journey is nolonger about that…

The Duke Of Burgundy-Peter Strickland-Julian House-Intro-A Year In The Country-2

(As a slight aside, one of the reference points that its regisseur Mr Peter Strickland quotes is the late 1970s-1980s British sitcom Terry and June – and indeed it seems to have much in common with such work; it is often a telling of the sometimes petty, sometimes far from petty, day-to-day annoyances and compromises that are often made in a relationship, albeit within an exotic setting/rituals but ultimately the issues it considers are very similar and in line with Mr Strickland’s comedic protagonist forebears – the frustrations of two people in their pyjamas in bed.)

The Duke Of Burgundy-Peter Strickland-Julian House-Intro-A Year In The Country-4

…this a tale where an almost Famous Five like bucolic existence of bike rides, butterfly nets and picnics amongst the grass lives side-by-side with that just mentioned exoticism and a sometimes stepping into a fluttering, shattering night.

Ultimately its a heartbreaking, moving story with an almost Kafka-esque sense of unending whatever the proclamations of change made by one half of a couple.

That aside, it is a mark of the quality of the work that you are drawn into this almost fairy tale like (a phrase used possibly more in a Czech new wave manner than say its traditional use) world and its interests without questioning the underlying infrastructure and logic – how do these people support themselves economically? Why and how is the primary source of activity and even currency that of butterfly, cricket etc examination and collecting? Where lie-eth the other gender? What age or whence does this place exist?

None of that matters as for around 6000 tickings of the clock this almost goldenly shimmering world becomes all of reality.

Lovely stuff indeed and a fitting start to a second year of wanderings…


The Duke Of Burgundy-Peter Strickland-one sheet poster-A Year In The Country-3As a postscript and to add to the substantiality/unreality of this tale and place – it was only on the second visiting and stepping into that I noticed the mannequins in amongst the audience of the lepidopterology lectures…

As a post-postscript and in continuity with Mr Strickland’s previous tale of a sealed and unending world – The Berberian Sound Studio – the artwork and trailer for this tale were created by Mr Julian House of Ghost Box Records.

These wander from a dreamt but quietly unsettling take on those bucolic bike rides to nearer its “exoticism” by way of The Velvet Underground (the book rather than the band, although that combos tales of well maintained footwear may well connect in various ways at this point)…

…while from over the seas and accompanying this here point in scribing is the rare-in-corporeal-form non-standard size playbill which I’m rather fond of…

…I don’t think this was placed into existence by Mr House and which, possibly in keeping with previous eras selling of “exotic but actually rather arthouse” tales leans more toward that overt “ahem” factor.

Peruse further work and playbills by Mr House around this tale here and view an introductory snippet here.

Step through into other of Mr Stricklands tales around these parts here.


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