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A Tribute to Das Kleine Fernsehspiel/ZDF: Alternative Filmmaking in Television

A Tribute to Das Kleine Fernsehspiel/ZDF: Alternative Filmmaking in Television

Monday, November 26, 1979
9:30 p.m. Coilin and Platonida
James Scott (Great Britain/West Germany, 1976)

The film is based on Nicolai Leskov’s story entitled “Kotin the Provider and Platonida,” set in 19th-century Russia. The story as adapted for the film is set in a rural community on the West Coast of Ireland at the turn of the century. It unfolds the circumstances in which a young man, Coilin, was brought up as a girl until the age of twelve, and how, on finding himself alone and cast out by his uncle, he adopts and provides for two orphaned children.
Parallel to the story of Coilin is that of Platonida, married to the elder son of Coilin’s uncle; and how she manages to help Coilin and the children until one day her husband dies and she disappears suddenly in violent circumstances. She is never found. Finally, out of the mystery and speculation which surround her disappearance, a legend emerges.
“James Scott’s film, Coilin and Platonida... keynotes a new kind of feeling in film.... The modes employed by Scott flow into each other to shift space, time and tone; to generate spontaneous feelings. The film is a fable, and fables move through their own time.... However, the terrain which is covered is highly complex and, if one dares to analyse this terrain, one could fall into the holes of contradictions and even find illogical points. But this is the true nature of the fable, if not the true nature of story-telling and image-making, which James Scott has managed to introduce into filmmaking.
“...(Scott) sustains that sense attributed to ‘the fable’.... He is able to work through the very matter of his materials and subjects and still consistently render meaning and feeling to them with a rare, solid simplicity.... He makes visually tangible and sensible those very same complexities which he strips away. Scott seems to be saying: ‘realisation is only at the point of seeing,’ and this he does so well.... without any pretense.... (And) Scott’s films... must be viewed without any pretense. It works like magic.”

—Stephen Dwoskin

• Directed, Written and Edited by James Scott. Production Company: Finestroke Ltd./ZDF. Based on the novella “Kotin and Platonida” by L.S. Leskov. Song “Una Bhan” sung by Maire Aine Ni Dhonnchadha. With Marion Joyce, Sean Ban Breatnach, Katrina Joyce, Bairbre Bolustrom, Bairbre MacDonncha, Padraig O’Maolchiaran, Tomas MacEoin, Coilin O’Finneadha, Frankie Allen. (Great Britain/West Germany, 1976, 86 mins, color, silent except for song in 4 parts, Print from The Other Cinema, London)