thu 20/01/2022

DVD: Separation/The Other Side of Underneath | reviews, news & interviews

DVD: Separation/The Other Side of Underneath

DVD: Separation/The Other Side of Underneath

Altered states in the films of Jane Arden and Jack Bond

'Separation': Jane Arden as Jane

Although the collaboration between Jane Arden and Jack Bond was truly two-way, their films were wholly driven by a female perspective. They also evolved from Arden’s explorations into the nature of self and how external forces affect that. Yet instead of being a form of therapy, the Arden-Bond films are magical journeys blurring the boundary between the real and unreal.

Separation (1967) has some mod-ish trappings: music by Procul Harum, visuals from light-show artist Mark Boyle and clothing from Ossie Clark. The character Jane (Arden herself) drifts through a world where she interacts with a lover, where women are arranged around a swimming pool with the formal precision of cutlery at a banquet. Jane is being pushed into behaving a certain - accepted – way. There are echoes of Godard. The oblique approach looks to Last Year at Marienbad. But Separation is about the person, rather than the form of delivery.

The Other Side of Underneath DVDThe Other Side of Underneath (1972) is even more specifically personal, a drama beginning with a comatose woman pulled from a lake and taken to an asylum. The staccato soundtrack music punctuates her distress. In the asylum, the women there create their own reality. Suddenly, the film changes tack and moves to a hippy style commune. Anti-Clock (1979), the final Arden-Bond film, is a mystery thriller making use of video, CCTV footage and different formats of film.

All three films have been out on DVD, but are now available in dual format (DVD and Blu-ray) packages. The accompanying books are exemplary, and each package is stuffed with extras. These are not surrealist films in the sense that the imagery could not exist in the day-to-day, but films where the protagonist’s off-balance perceptions aren’t necessarily in line with what they seem to be experiencing. Arden’s background in theatre (which she continued with while working in film) must have driven her to focus on the individual.

Although only (relatively) recently rediscovered, these singular, quite peculiar and seductive films are all remarkable. It’s a tragedy though that Arden is not around to see her work afresh. She committed suicide in 1982.

These singular, quite peculiar and seductive films are all remarkable

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