Christine has only one purpose in life: supplying heroin to her teenage friends. Clarke’s camera attaches us to this courier of oblivion as she goes efficiently on her daily round, the only person on the streets of a modern housing estate in the middle of a flat plane somewhere in the south of England. There is no link between this estate and the rest of society – its only visible connection to cultural history are the names ‘Coleridge’ and ‘Keats’ on street signs. And aside from Christine’s mum, adults remain unseen, off-screen phantoms. The kids here are cut off from family, society, culture and history: their only link to the outside world is the girl who brings them the means to blank it all out. —Sight & Sound
Alan Clarke (28 October 1935 – 24 July 1990) was a television and film director, producer and writer, born in Wallasey, Cheshire, England.
Most of Clarke’s output was for television rather than cinema, including work for the famous play strands The Wednesday Play and Play for Today. His subject matter tended towards social realism, especially with respect to deprived or oppressed communities.
As Rolinson’s book on Clarke details, between 1962 and 1966 Clarke directed several plays at The Questors Theatre in Ealing, London. Between 1967 and 1969 he directed various ITV productions including plays by Alun Owen (Shelter, George’s Room, Stella, Thief, Gareth), Edna O’Brien (Which Of These Two Ladies Is He Married To? and Nothing’s Ever Over) and Roy Minton (The Gentleman Caller, Goodnight Albert, Stand By Your Screen). He also worked on the series The Informer, The Gold Robbers and A Man Of Our Times (but not, as Sight and Sound once claimed, Big Breadwinner Hog). Clarke continued… read more
Unlike stylised junk like Trainspotting and Requiem for a Dream, this work manages to effectively convey the detachment and aimlessness of a life overtaken by heroin. While the critics would rather heap praise on tricksters like Danny Boyle, the smarter viewers understand that Clarke was one of the most radical and brave directors Britain has ever produced. His work deserves a lot more attention from my compatriots.