~ Poet: Philip Larkin ~

Here by Philip Larkin

Last week’s Larkin centenary surfaced this fine poetry film from 2010, directed by Dave Lee with voiceover by Sir Tom Courtney. David Stubbins was the cinematographer, Andrew Olsson the editor and Louise Bennett the composer. The YouTube description:

‘Here’ is a contemporary cinematic interpretation of Philip Larkin’s poem of the same name, which depicts a journey east “from rich industrial shadows” through an initially bleak but increasingly fecund rural landscape and on to a large and bustling town, whose inhabitants (and their lives) are brought into sharp focus in uncompromising but affectionately honest terms before the journey continues eastwards beyond the town, to where “Ends the land suddenly” in an ethereal and unattainable “unfenced existence”.

The film has been nominated for awards at:
RTS Awards 2010
Holmfirth Film Festival 2010
Hull Short Film Festival 2010
Cambridge Strawberry Shorts 2011

This Be The Verse by Philip Larkin


Larkin’s own reading of his most famous poem is brought to life in this student film, a simple but effective text animation by Caroline Marks, who notes that it was “Created using After Effects, June 2015.”

High Windows by Philip Larkin

An animation of Larkin’s famous 1974 poem—knowing the date is key to understanding what now seems like a somewhat dated text. And yet this is the first of three films that the Paris-based studio Troublemakers.tv have produced so far for a futuristic poetry-film project called the Poetry Movement, whose creators appear to believe they’re breaking new ground:

The Poetry Movement is the ‘adolescent’ chapter within The Josephine Hart Poetry Foundation. It stands as the next logical step in terms of the way we consume verse and will grow and develop into a creative space that encapsulates the beauty of imagination and inventiveness. Within today’s technology lead landscape now sits a place in which timeless literature can be reborn and set free. The Poetry Movement is a radical and accessible platform for brilliance, creativity and vision.

Acting as if they’ve invented the genre is of course not unique; the folks at Motionpoems too are often guilty of that. But there is definitely something different about the three films produced for the Poetry Movement so far. Watch their adaptations of Plath’s “Death & Co.” and a section of “The Wasteland” and you’ll see what I mean. The idea I guess is to appeal to a generation raised on video games. “High Windows,” literal as it may be, at least does not make me laugh uncontrollably, and treats the poem with respect. Onur Senturk directed. The recitation is by Harold Pinter. (See Vimeo for the rest of the credits.)

Days by Philip Larkin

An interesting contrast with the Dave Lee film posted yesterday. Yes, this is nothing but a YouTube mash-up of a Philip Larkin reading with footage of soldiers on LSD (presumably in the public domain), posted in 2006. The maker, David Quantrick, didn’t even bother to add credits — he apparently just viewed it as an expeditious way to share the poem. And yes, the video quality is low. But I find the combination of footage and text inspired and delightful. Unlike Bridge for the Living, this video is greater than the sum of its parts.

Bridge For The Living by Philip Larkin

The high quality of this poem-film as a film convinced me it deserves a place here, despite the (to my taste) rather too literal correspondence of film image to textual image. Actually, as a commemorative work for the bridge itself, it’s hard to see how the film could’ve avoided such literalism — and it’s not as if the choice of shots and camera angles doesn’t exercise the viewer’s imagination, too. At any rate, here’s the description at Vimeo (edited slightly to remove typos):

Written to commemorate the opening of the Humber Bridge, ‘Bridge For The Living’ finds Philip Larkin ruminating both on the effect he believed the bridge would have on the city of Hull and its environs but also on the nature of man’s need for connectivity.

This film returns to the poem during the 30th anniversary year of the Humber Bridge and illustrates and explores Larkin’s sentiments. The read is supplied by Hull-born Oscar-nominated acting legend Sir Tom Courtenay and is the second time he has completed a film based on a Larkin poem with Yorkshire film-maker Dave Lee, their previous collaboration being a multi-award nominated adaptation of ‘Here’.

‘Bridge For The Living’ has been made for the 2011 Humber Mouth Literary Festival with support from Hull City Council and the National Lottery.

It won an award at Glimmer 2011: The Hull International Short Film Festival. The Jury said: “Dave Lee has created a mesmerizing film with a timeless feel. Bridge for the Living is stunning; a wonderful use of time-lapse, fantastic camera angles and flawless editing, this work perfectly compliments the Philip Larkin poem with its beautiful cinematography, all complimented by Sir Tom Courtney’s voice over.”

The Humber Mouth website is here.

The Trees by Philip Larkin

Animation by Amy Swapp and Fiona Hobson. (For the text of the poem with proper punctuation and such, see The Poetry Archive.)