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Tansy (1921)

Details of this beautifully shot film are at Screenonline which has some video clips to enjoy (registered users only) plus stills and more detail about cast.

This film is a very good example of one of Cecil Hepworth's most positive qualities: his photography of the English countryside.

As he himself said, "it was always in the back of my mind from the very beginning that I was to make English pictures with all the English countryside for background and with English idiom throughout."

His photography of the English countryside was part of his search for purely pictorial beauty: "Always I have striven for beauty, for pictorial meaning and effect... Much of my success, I am sure, is in the aesthetic pleasure conveyed, but not recognised, by the beauty of the scene and generally mistaken for some unknown other quality in the film."

This interest in film as a primarily pictorial art perhaps worked at the expense of his films' dramatic or narrative interest, but at least his lack of theatrical background ensured that his films were not stagey and over-literary. He disliked stage plays as his raw material and preferred to write his own stories: he liked to work in the open air and if he had to work indoors always tried to use daylight. Unusually for the time, his actors and actresses wore little or no make-up.

Julian Petley

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