Peter Whitehead’s Movies

Last few nights we were at the Pacific Cinemateque to screen some of Peter Whitehead‘s films documenting the late 60s. From the inside. Young Rolling Stones! Arty camera jiggling! Tonite Lets Make Love in London is great, and really shows something of the time in a film that has been, for whatever reason, locked away until now. What an experience, particularly combined with the other films, not only the pop music stars, but the one of Peter Brook‘s US, a counterculture workshopped theatre experience on the role of Britain in the Vietnam war. It is so serious and intentional – the Royal Shakespeare Company all thorough theatre people through and through. He took them past their own boundaries from comfort zone into unknown terrain, a Brook specialty (a la Grotowski) – how did Whitehead enable us to see that, and to see the production too? By being totally involved himself. He wasn’t separate from anything he documented, but was part of it.

The film Wholly Communion, covering a poetry reading at Royal Albert Hall in London, features Ginsberg, Ferlinghetti, Corso and other beats with the Brit poets of the day, and a very savvy audience. All part of the scene already in 1965.

There are still two more being shown next week – can’t wait to see these too, but they may be darker.


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