Review: ‘Creatures of Light’

Also with: Barbara Horne, Ralph Riach, Roy Sampson, Andy Barr, Billy Riddock.

Also with: Barbara Horne, Ralph Riach, Roy Sampson, Andy Barr, Billy Riddock.

EDINBURGH–Top-notch production and confident playing illumine “Creatures of Light,” a Celtic costumer about all-conquering love between a lame crofter and a strong woman. Beyond fests and tube playoff, pic could have limited theatrical potential as a quality drama in 35mm blowup.

Movie is actually the graduation feature of mature NFTS directing student Bill Anderson, who has a track record in stage and TV scripting. But there’s nothing film schoolish about the finished product, which has a pro feel.

Simple story is set in the 1850s on Scotland’s remote Isle of Mull, though time and place are unspecified on screen. Young, partially lame Fionn (Paul Higgins) takes in the mysterious Eilidh (Robin McCaffrey), who one day washes up half-frozen in a boat with her hands bound.

Slowly recovering, she first tidies up his bachelor cottage and later invites him into her bed. The drama heightens as, against the resistance of the local fishermen, she corrals the womenfolk into building a “salmon ladder” to help the weaker fish survive the spawning journey.

Economical script doesn’t overdo the symbolism of femme support for nature’s weaklings. Pic is more about the possibility of choice, of not accepting the inevitable.

Screen newcomers McCaffrey and Higgins make a confident pairing, in no way overshadowed by more experienced thesps Donald Douglas and Jenny Lee as the local minister and his wife.

Major plaudits, too, go to director Anderson and producer Katherine Hedderly for hewing such a good-looking pic from a nothing T70,000 budget.

Tech credits are impressive, especially Robert Neufeld’s assured symphonic score, Melanie Adams’ smooth cutting and Finn Pentti Keskimaki’s 16mm lensing, which has a feel for spirit of place.

Pic shared the top Chaplin Award, with “Leon the Pig Farmer,” at the recent Edinburgh fest.

Creatures of Light

(British--Costume drama--Color)

Production

A National Film & Television School production. (Intl. sales: NFTS.) Produced by Katherine Hedderly. Directed, written by Bill Anderson.

Crew

Camera (Kodak color, Technicolor prints, 16mm), Pentti Keskimaki; editor, Melanie Adams; music, Robert Neufeld; sound, Ron Bailey; production design, Ben Scott; costume design, Annie Symons; makeup, Louise Ricci; assistant directors, Ian Henry, Ted Thornton. Reviewed at Edinburgh Intl. Film Festival, Aug. 27, 1992. Running time: 76 min.

With

Eilidh ... Robin McCaffrey Fionn ... Paul Higgins Jean ... Jenny Lee Minister ... Donald Douglas
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