Dylan Thomas’ 1954 ‘play for voices’ gets a spirited, over the top, and above all very Welsh treatment in this new film version from Swansea-born director Kevin Allen (TWIN TOWN) soon to be released on DVD & Blu-ray by Metrodome.
A day in the life of the fictional Welsh town of Llareggub (spell it backwards) is conveyed through narration, with regular contributions and interruptions from the colourful characters who make the place their home, both living and dead, real and imaginary.
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These include blind Captain Cat (Rhys Ifans) tormented by dreams of his drowned shipmates (who look like they belong in a Fulci movie), Mr Pugh (Boyd Clack ) who is constantly planning the murder of his scolding wife, amorous Polly Garter (Charlotte Church) who has had more lovers than she can count but pines most for the one she knows to be dead, Organ Morgan (Aneirin Hughes) who loves Bach more than his wife, Sinbad Sailors (Bradley Freeguard) who dreams of bedding local teacher Gossamer Beynon (Sara Lloyd Gregory) and Mrs Ogmore-Pritchard (Buddug Verona James) who regularly engages in BDSM sessions with the ghosts of her two dead husbands.
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As an acknowledged literary classic, UNDER MILK WOOD has been given a cheerfully irreverent and bawdy makeover here, with some likening it to a fever dream. It’s certainly a vision of Wales we’re not used to - the sun shines, the colours are vivid and vibrant, and there isn’t a drop of rain in sight. There is however a cascade of crazy imagery that at times threatens to become too much. One doesn’t have to look too hard to detect the influence of Ken Russell, Lars von Trier, THE WICKER MAN and the Carry On films here, all lumped together in one glorious melange that probably needs a couple of viewings to fully appreciate.
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Metrodome’s release comes with two versions of the film - one in English and one in Welsh with English subtitles. The making of is also in Welsh.For one of the many who had UNDER MILK WOOD drummed into them in school, was played LP versions of the play, and was shown Andrew Sinclair’s 1972 movie version starring Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, Kevin Allen’s new film version is refreshingly Euro-Art House in its ambition, with a fine cast of Welsh actors, and a similarly inventive music score from Mark Thomas. It takes a bit of getting used to, but by the time the sun is setting on Llareggub you realise you’ve been watching something really rather special.
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Metrodome are releasing Kevin Allen's new version of Dylan Thomas' UNDER MILK WOOD on Region 2 DVD & Region B Blu-ray on 16th November 2015