Monday, March 11, 2019

The Other Side of the Underneath @ Phantoscope

Jane Arden's The Other Side of the Underneath (1972) is the next film to be presented by Phantoscope, Triskel Christchurch Cinema's quarterly experimental film screening event which I programme. Almost unbelievably, it is the only British feature of the '70s to have a sole female directing credit, and what a film it is! This nightmarishly hallucinatory trip is a searing representation of Arden’s radical feminist and anti-psychiatric beliefs. A compelling, even overwhelming movie, it treads an uncomfortable line between performance and psychodrama while combining visual extravagance with punishing emotional intensity.

Sean Kaye-Smith in VERTIGO magazine discusses its reception:

Based on her own play Holocaust, which was also the name of a feminist theatre group she had formed earlier, the film caused a stir at film festivals, including the London Film Festival, around that time. Its powerful and violent imagery, which explores the mind of a ‘schizophrenic’ woman, led surrealism expert George Melly to call it ‘a most illuminating season in hell’. Arden’s film, not surprisingly, challenges the label ‘schizophrenia’ and suggests that the real issues are in society’s taboos and repressions. David Will, on BBC Radio – quoted in the 1972 London Film Festival programme – was under no doubt as to the film’s importance; he states “Jane Arden’s film The Otherside of Underneath represents a major breakthrough for the British cinema.” He goes on to show his understanding of Arden’s need for a radical aesthetic: “It is certainly not inconceivable that the ideological struggles of women’s liberation will be reflected aesthetically in a rejection of the traditional modes of cinematic expression”. Will found the film “a shattering’ experience”. 

It will screen at 6.15 on Friday, March 29th at Triskel Cinema in Cork. Screening details and tickets available here.   

The trailer New York's Spectacle Theater put together for their screening of it can be seen here.

If you want to find out more about the extraordinary film and theatre career of Jane Arden, this Quietus article by Anthony Nield is a good place to start.


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