Sunday, 20 March 2011

On 20.3.11 by KieronMoore in , , ,    No comments
...but I watched Christopher and his Kind for the thought-provoking and intellectual historical drama. Honestly.

On a more serious note (as always), I was impressed by Matt Smith's performance as the novelist Christopher Isherwood in the BBC's adaptation of his autobiographical novel, which details his time in pre-war Berlin. While Isherwood is perhaps not presented as the most complex of characters, Smith portrays him with a believability and slight awkwardness that managed to draw me in to the extent that, for large portions of the drama, my mind was not at all engaged by the dual distractions of his sex appeal and comparisons with Doctor Who. Imogen Poots and Toby Jones also put in strong performances as the figures that influenced Isherwood's works.

The later years of Weimar Berlin is a setting that I find interesting and full of potential for good drama, as economic and political factors draw the dark metaphorical shadow of National Socialism over a society in which great artists like Fritz Lang, Bertolt Brecht and Max Ernst flourished. (What if this is happening now? If the recession somehow gets worse and the BNP somehow get elected, artistic types and gays will have to bugger off to America again. I'm booking my ticket already.) The director Geoffrey Sax (whose name is a convenient anagram of "gay sex offer" - just putting that out there) uses a variety of nice shots that emphasise the delights of the liberal culture of Weimar Berlin as well as the encroaching danger of the Nazis' rise to power. This theme is explored throughout the story with many nice period touches. The effects of the Nazis' increasing power are shown through a series of depressing events that take away from the liberal and artistic culture Isherwood came to Berlin for; the "bonfire of the vanities" style burning of books, the ransacking of the Jewish department store, Isherwood's former lover giving in and becoming a Nazi soldier, to name but a few. However, the drama faltered in that I never really felt that Isherwood himself was in any real danger. Perhaps due to the framing scenes of Isherwood alive and safe in 1976, his actions as more of an observer than an active participant in the political action or the occassional slow pace and conventionality of direction, this lack of threat prevented Christopher and his Kind from being the most exciting of dramas.

Despite this criticism, Christopher and his Kind was, overall, a well acted drama which touched on a few topical themes in its exploration of an interesting historical period. Also, the landlady's pronunciation of "Isherwood" was funny. Herr Ishywoo.

I'll finish my review with an overly precise and somewhat arbitrary rating: 7.8139/10


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