Wednesday 15 September 2010

Lindsay Anderson's 'O Dreamland' screening in London

There will be a screening of Lindsay Anderson's O Dreamland next Thursday in London as part of a night of poetry, performance and film screenings under the banner of 'Plectrum Live Edition'.   The event 'Plectrum Live Edition: Postcards from the Promenade' is organised by 'Plectrum - the cultural pick' - an arts magazine published on-line and bi-monthly in print.  I heard of this event via The Horse Hospital - this is an arts venue in London. In their own words "The Horse Hospital is a three tiered progressive arts venue in London providing an encompassing umbrella for the related media of film fashion, music and art." Oh, so many things to explore when I move to London!  Although unfortunately I'll miss this event as I'm travelling back up from London on the 23rd after a few days flat hunting and starting a film course at Lux - Opening up the Archive - a Guided tour of Artists Moving Image.

Here is some more information about the event which the screening of O Dreamland is a part of:

"Returning from a seaside summer holiday, the first Plectrum Live Edition of the autumn mixes postcards from the promenade and the view into the fairground fortune teller’s crystal ball, with fresh perspectives on the sights and sounds of London, to present an evening of author readings, film screening, live music, poetry, and more with Travis Elborough, Lindsay Anderson’s O Dreamland, Karen McLeod, The Vatican Cellars, and Benedict Newbery, hosted by Guy Sangster Adams."

Thursday 23 September at The Horse Hospital, Colonnade, Bloomsbury, London WC1N 1JD.  Doors at 7.30 performances begin 8pm.    Tickets £6 on the door.

Set in a funfair in Margate called 'Dreamland' Lindsay Anderson's 1953 film O Dreamland wasn't actually screened until the first Free Cinema programme at the National Film Theatre in 1956.  A short film of 12 minutes which tours round the funfair showing the 'attractions' which in this film appear very bleak, and at times, sinister.  The effect of the film is described brilliantly by Gavin Lambert in an article he wrote on Free Cinema:

 "Everything is ugly... It is almost too much. The nightmare is redeemed by the point of view, which, for all the unsparing candid camerawork and the harsh, inelegant photography, is emphatically humane. Pity, sadness, even poetry is infused into this drearily tawdry, aimlessly hungry world."

Lindsay Anderson on location for O Dreamland,
© Lindsay Anderson Collection, University of Stirling Archives

N.B. The funfair at Margate is still there today although it closed in 2005.

N.B. If you are in a Library, College or University which has an account with BFI Screenonline then you can watch O Dreamland  for free online at


  1. I thought of you yesterday. The John Ford film Upstream was screened here yesterday at the National Archives. Thought lost, it was discovered in New Zealand in their archives.

    One wonders what Lindsay would have thought of it had he seen it during its original run, or perhaps he did?

  2. Did you see it? The film is listed in Ford's filmography in 'About John Ford' but that's it - there's no mention of it in the book itself so he probably didn't get to see it. I wonder if it'll be shown here - I'll keep an eye out at the British Film Institute as they do an archive strand of films. I'm currently half way through watching 'The Fugitive' which I just couldn't get in to - couldn't quite believe Henry Fonda as a priest. I'll give it another go though as I seem to remember Lindsay saying he didn't think it was as bad as the reviews suggested, though he didn't exactly say it was good!

  3. I've just found a few stills from 'Upstream' here -