~ Poet: Edward Thomas ~

Lights Out by Edward Thomas

This is Home to the Hangers, a 2017 film adaptation of Edward Thomas’ “Lights Out” by A D Cooper, newly released for free online after a highly successful tour of the festival circuit. “A traumatised soldier runs away from the World War 1 trenches and finds healing in his old haunts,” reads the description. I asked Cooper how it came to be made, and she told me,

The film was created on the theme of ‘anniversary’ for the Directors UK Alexa Challenge. Since the makers of the Alexa camera (ARRI) were celebrating their centenary, I looked for another centenary from 1917 as my entry into the competition, and found Edward Thomas’ death. It was more practical than the Russian Revolution or the French Army mutiny. It’s been interesting to find that people make entirely different interpretations of the film – all of them valid.

See its project page on the Hurcheon Films website for a full list of honors and awards. They include the reaction of Edward Thomas’ great granddaughter, Julia Maxted of the Edward Thomas Fellowship:

It is strikingly beautiful and Alex Bartram portrays and reads him wonderfully. A refreshingly hopeful reading of ‘Lights Out’ too, and I loved the attention to the small, intimate parts of his life and landscape together with the spaciousness of the vistas – both very much part of his symbolic topographies.

This is a wonderful example of an unarguably appropriate use of narrative filmmaking in a lyric poetry film. Although “Lights Out” doesn’t mention war, Thomas’ brief but amazingly productive writing career, cut short by his death on the battlefield, is notable for the intensity of his vision and the way in which his nature poetry transcends the merely pastoral. You’d be hard-pressed to find a better introduction to his life and work, in the classroom or out of it, than Home to the Hangers.