By Dave Rolinson
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Extra info for Alan Clarke
Confusing with temporal ellipsis, Clarke cuts to shots with no narrative motivation – Henry at the children’s playgroup, little girls on swings. And then, brutally, he cuts to the irretrievable breakdown of the argument, and Henry’s outburst against her ‘ogling me … undressing me. Why don’t you leave me alone? ’ The scene raises questions about the story behind ‘David’, but they are not followed up, and the play refuses to judge or even articulate his thoughts. So why does Henry tell lies? The question directly follows his failed appeal to be embraced into the family, to ‘sit in your branches’, and as such implicates an increasingly alienating society.
Such restrictions particularly apply to directors’ work for drama series, which tend to require a fidelity to ‘house style’. However, in his series work over 1967 and 1968, Clarke employs some of his distinctive motifs. For instance, Angela Moreton (1967), in her review of Clarke’s episode of The Informer, noted the use of ‘long searching close-ups’. Rolinson_AC_02_Chap 1 23 17/5/05, 9:05 am 24 Alan Clarke Equally, the acclaimed A Man of Our Times afforded scope for individual contributions; according to John L Phillips (1968), each episode could ‘stand as a play in its own right’.
His parents have had a ‘seeing is believing’ faith in the media, and have been content to not think too much (when asked to consider the starving millions, Norman replies, ‘Name two’). The internalisation of social pressures into the family unit is connected with the media through the central ambiguity raised in the title – the connection between the screens of the media and the ‘screens’ behind which Christopher hides. It is tempting to read Christopher as symbolising the single play itself. His attempts to bring the cultural revolution into the home from a screen in the corner of the room are ignored.