Film written by David Storey and directed by Lindsay Anderson
I stumbled on This Sporting Life and decided to watch it despite the reliance on rugby ostensibly mixed with a love story. I assumed there would be English rugby culture and an emphasis on things that would go right past me. Sometimes I’m an idiot. After all, I plunge into all sorts of arcane matters with a free spirit. But- wait a minture- this has rugby in it- can’t manage that.
And Richard Harris, too. He starred in Camelot, didn’t he? Also, that movie from which the preview alone gave me nightmares as a child (A Man Called Horse)?
That This Sporting Life was a character study was no surprise. That it was brilliant and held my interest and I wanted more- well, unexpected. So, I wondered aloud- who made this film? Lindsay Anderson? And what else did he do?
He made how many films? That’s all? Did he die young? Nope? Let’s see what we have here. If… about a revolution at a private school? That is something that might appeal to me.
Needless to say, I plowed through the work of Lindsay Anderson with remarkable glee. He made a trilogy of films (the Mick Travis trilogy) in collaboration with Malcolm McDowell that get progressively weirder, which is saying something since If… is the first of them.
Let’s consider the second of the three for a moment. The soundtrack to O Lucky Man! is by Alan Price and truly fantastic. Sometimes you see the band and sometimes you don’t. The story meanders thither and yon. It is one of those long films with an intermission and plays more like Tom Jones than anything straightforward. There is a job selling coffee and then there is disaster and then there is love and…
Here’s the thing.the paucity of movies as well as their content suggest someone who took a while to get interested and then worked hard to capture his vision. The mix of humor and horror with empathy and social commentary is definitely right up my alley. So, I tried to find out what I could about this one artist who no one had seemed to mention.
I discovered that plenty of people appreciated his work. More than that, a lot of people loved the man. You can find almost more about him as a person than as an artist from the various times that he comes up in stories. For example, I could just as easily have focused in on Malcolm McDowell here. Anderson and McDowell are powerfully linked, as documented by the latter in his one man show Never Apologize.
For a variety of reasons, I’ve reached a point where I see a lot of life as being one thing after another. That’s not a moral judgement so much as an acknowledgement that things happen and we deal with them as opposed to writing out a life plan at eighteen and then executing it. (This isn’t meant to be profound.)
Anderson, in his films, rather captures that philosophy. As well, I tend to think that he lived his life from one activity or event to the next, but somehow well enough to have touched many lives. I never knew the man and I realize that I am being very presumptuous here, but that may just count as a way to live a truly artistic life.
What’s it all about?
You’ve Got to Check This Out is a blog series about music, words, and all sorts of artistic matters. It started with an explanation. 90 more to go.
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