Film Review: Morris: A Life With Bells On

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What a shame that the film industry these days is more about making money and appealing to the lowest common denominator. It means that you can walk into any cinema and see the latest loud blockbuster full of car chases, things being blown up and humour that a schoolboy would adore.

It makes getting any small independent film made, let alone distributed, almost a miracle. But I’m happy to be able to say that miracle still occasionally do happen. Last year, a small film became a hit just by word of mouth, with screenings arranged in innovative venues by demand, and now, with its release on DVD, that whisper can become a shout.

Morris: A Life With Bells On  was clearly a labour of love for its writer and star, Charles Thomas Oldham, who plays Morris team leader Derecq Twist. It’s primarily due to his charm and sincerity that the film doesn’t just deteriorate into simple mockery of the dance-he makes it a love letter to a dying art.

He also managed a pull together an amazing cast that includes Derek Jacobi, Harriet Walter and Greg Wise. Special mention should go to Ian Hart and his ninja team from Moss Side (yes, really).

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But don’t be put off if Morris dancing makes you shudder. The movie also glorifies the beauty of England (and its people) and the traditions that have endured because they are what the people want. The production team even managed to make a beach in Sandbanks looking like California despite torrential rain. And the West Country looks so lush that all you want to do is jump into the screen and be there.

So turn your back on Avatar and see a film with real heart-I know which cinematic location I’d rather journey to.

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