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Seachd The Inaccessible Pinnacle. Seachd Director: Simon Miller Writers: Simon Miller and Joanne Cockwell. Filmed in 2006 on the Isle of Skye First screened.

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Presentation on theme: "Seachd The Inaccessible Pinnacle. Seachd Director: Simon Miller Writers: Simon Miller and Joanne Cockwell. Filmed in 2006 on the Isle of Skye First screened."— Presentation transcript:

1 Seachd The Inaccessible Pinnacle

2 Seachd Director: Simon Miller Writers: Simon Miller and Joanne Cockwell. Filmed in 2006 on the Isle of Skye First screened at the Celtic Media Festival 2007 Edinburgh International Film Festival 2007

3 Seachd First feature film to be made entirely in Gaelic. The film revolves around a young man’s quest for the truth about his parents’ death when he was a child. But other quests are intertwined in the action.

4 Seachd As a young man Aonghas visits his dying grand-father in hospital, but memories of his childhood after his parents’ death fill his mind. He can only find some kind of meaning about his parents’ death by climbing the ‘inaccessible summit’ on the island.

5 Seachd The rocky summit stands as a metaphor for a young Gael’s challenge to come to terms with the death of his parents and reconcile himself with his dying Gaelic- speaking grand-father who raised him and tried to instill in him pride for his culture.

6 Seachd Aonghas is seen as a young boy rejecting Gaelic and Gaelic culture as something that is ‘dying’, or dead like his parents.

7 Seachd Four Gaelic folkloric stories are told by the grand-father to help Aonghas. These stories (apparently from a ‘story- book’) are an essential part of the film. Unsentimental view of contemporary highland culture.

8 Seachd The film takes place on two time levels: Aonghas as a boy, looked after by the grand-father. As a young man meeting his grand-father again in a hospital in Skye. His grand- father is on his death-bed.

9 Seachd- An Analysis This is a film about the young boy growing up, but it is also a story about the Gaelic world in which he is growing up in. A world he rejects and then seems to accept. Rather like his attitude towards his grand-father.

10 Analysis Much of the significance of Aonghas’ struggle is reflected in the stories told by the grand-father. Are they traditional, or made up by the grand-father? Does that matter?

11 The accident At the very beginning of the film we see Aonghas’ parents and another person at the summit of the mountain. The weather is poor, and part of the mountaineering equipment comes loose. The gloves worn by the father play a significant part. On the way down, there is an unseen accident where the parents are killed but the third person survives.

12 Aonghas/Aonghas What are the circumstances of the death of Aonghas’ parents? Why were they on the mountain? Is there a connection with the first tale told by the grand-father. As he tells this tale at home to the children, the accident is taking place (Christmas).

13 Aonghas and the accident ‘it wasn’t a story. It was the truth’. The contrast between ‘truth’ and ‘stories’ is a major element in the film. Aonghas makes the contrast (meaning?); his grand- father seems them as part of the same. His grand-father filled his life with stories, and it wasn’t easy to tell stories from reality.

14 The grand-father The grand-father is also called Aonghas. The beginning of the film shows Aonghas arriving at the hospital in Skye where his grand-father is dying. Aonghas is shown remembering that traumatic time (Christmas) when his parents died. Golden coin chocolates (Spanish Armada?). Suggestion of future choices?

15 The First Story-the lovers We are taken into the past- middle ages?. Two lovers. He is called Aonghas. It was a secret love. A. made a special balm from a pink flower. The ‘plant of the dead’ (frequent motif in the film). She suffers from a ‘sleeping death’.

16 The First Story-the lovers Only one cure was possible: the Crimson Snowdrop, a very rare plant. After seven (seachd) years of searching. He goes to the inaccessible pinnacle. He tastes the petals, but for his loved-one, he is too late. The slow heartbeat years.

17 Aonghas After the death of his parents he comes to live with his grand-parents. Escape to Glasgow (later as a young man, he will) Rejects the world of his grand-father (music); speaks English He rejects his name (response of the grand- father) ‘they’re all dead’ (Aonghas) ‘I hate Gaelic’ (Aonghas)

18 The Second Story-Akira Gunn As an antidote to hate, the grand-father tells the story of Akira Gunn. A dark time of hate. Highlanders persecuted. The landlords (early 19 th century) had complete power over their Gaelic tenants, they could take all: ‘your name and your home and your tongue’

19 The Second Story-Akira Gunn The cottage of Akira and her father is set alight (to get rid of tenants). Lock and the Magician (‘an draoidh’). The Magician takes her under his wing, and teaches her ‘magic’. She discovers how to curse in Gaelic and learns a traditional formula.

20 The Second Story-Akira Gunn Later in a confrontation with the landlord, she curses those who have (apparently) killed her father. She magically disappears. Later the magician meets her again and she returns to her father’s cottage, to find him alive, and apparently well.

21 The Second Story-Akira Gunn The episode ends with the grandfather turning on the television (which he said didn’t work) and watches a movie with Peter O’Toole. Probably the 2002 film ‘The Final Curtain’ about an ageing gameshow host. (entertainer like the ‘Magician’ or even the grand-father?).

22 Aonghas A. practises cursing in the way he has heard it from his grandfather’s story. Later the grand-father takes A and his brother and sister out on the sea, which leads to another (rather humorous) tale involving a MacDonald and a Spanish gentleman from the period of the Spanish Armada 1588.

23 The Third Story-the Spanish Armada A clash of two cultures? An exiled Gael on an island without fish nearby, suddenly meets a ship-wrecked Spanish gentleman. There is also a treasure chest which is washed onto the beach. Gold. But the gold could not help them in their predicament.

24 The Third Story-the Spanish Armada They agree that MacDonald will go out to sea in the treasure chest.(As a kind of one-man boat) MacDonald lands but is thrown into jail. The Spaniard languishes on the island. The Spaniard appears to commit suicide (doesn’t), and arrives on the island where MacDonald has now escaped.

25 The Third Story-the Spanish Armada An argument ensues about dividing the gold which the Spaniard has brought with him. The Gael and the Spaniard nevertheless remain friends. And are seen in an eternal squabble on the beach. Motif of the ‘eternal combat’?

26 Aonghas This leads to the scene where a ceilidh is held. The very Gaelic nature of this event is evident with the dancing and the solo Gaelic lament (theme of death returns) Aonghas seems to be beginning to accept Gaelic culture (goes to fetch the accordeon in his room, and plays a few notes). This idyllic episode is soon upset by the arrival of a visitor.

27 Aonghas This scene however is ruined by the arrival of the survivor from the accident in which A.’s parents were killed. The congenial atmosphere is destroyed. He had given A’s father his gloves ‘he murdered them’ (Aonghas). He again seems to reject ‘stories’ (the books he throws out of his bedroom.

28 Aonghas The appears suddenly to reject the world of ‘stories’ (Gaelic) in favour of his own rather selfish view of ‘the truth’. He won’t listen. The grand-mother become very ill, and asks her husband to tell Aonghas the story of Sileas. ‘The Girl Who Would Not Listen’.

29 The Fourth Story-Sìleas Sileas is young but very selfish; she pays the price. While collecting mussels on the shore, she sees a beautiful white horse, almost immediately a young man dressed in white appears, and speaks to her. He is possibly the devil, since his price is very high (her soul implied?). As she is carried away by the horse- the grandmother dies.

30 The Fourth Story-Sìleas Another approach to the story which might be possible is to view this episode as a version of the Kelpie- a mythological shape-changing horse that inhabits lochs and rivers. It attempts to lure children to ride on its back, but takes them to the watery depths and drowns them. (death motif again?)

31 The ‘kelpie’ (each uisge) To what extent does the ‘kelpie’ figure add to the understanding of Aonghas and how he deals with the problems he faces?

32 Aonghas and his grandfather in hospital ‘No one can tell the truth. Just stories’. (the grandfather) ‘Not in the real world’. ‘Whose world, your world or my world?” ‘Return to your world, you don’t have to stay to the end of mine’.

33 Aonghas and his grandfather A. leaves his grandfather and sets off for Glasgow (where he lives and works). In the woods in Skye we catch a glimpse of Akira Gunn, and then the grandfather appears in the back of the car. Is he really there or not? They return to the island (Skye).

34 Aonghas and his grandfather They return first to the grandfather’s house. Dark, no electricity. Is A. there alone or with his grandfather (both?) When he wakes, we see him as a child again. He looks at the map where the mountain is (as he did at the beginning of the film). He takes the book of stories, but does not open it.

35 Aonghas and his grandfather ‘They’ set off on their way ‘to the end of the story’. They are making their way to the mountain (first by boat). ‘it has to go back from where it came from’, The Crimson Snowdrop. Aonghas climbs the summit and releases the pressed flower. But you know the truth’, Yes, I do. The whole truth of the story.

36 Aonghas and his grandfather The boy Aonghas opens the book of stories, but each page is empty. He becomes a young man again. His grandfather is dead. ‘the truth is in the story’.


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