Films

Lorem Ipsum from James Brittain on Vimeo.

Here is The Laughing Woman.  The idea, of a person who cannot stop smiling, is stolen from the 1928 film The Man Who Laughs, directed by Paul Leni and staring the indomitable Conrad Veidt.  Brittain Films stawart Tiffany Cotten gives a fun performance as a woman tormented by her smile.  

 

The Laughing Woman from James Brittain on Vimeo.

Lady Blackstone is an improvised performance by longtime Brittain Films collaborator Tiffany Cotten. 

 

Lady Blackstone from James Brittain on Vimeo.

Fourth is so titled because it was the fourth film shot in this series.  It presents Cait Brasel in her first ever Brittain Films appearence.  Largely improvised, this is a character study and mood piece.  The music is longtime musical collaborator secretSpeeches' other band, crashZendo.

 

The western was conceived of as festival fodder. Here at Brittain Films we tend to get bored with what we've gotten good at, preferring to sally into the haphazard unknown. We decided to do one emphasizing what we were good at. Which is pretty odd as it turns out. Personification, impossible spaces, rambling monologues and confused action. The film was shot over two days in a field and in a small room in a basement. The initial goal was successful, The Western screened at the 2012 South Texas Underground Film Festival. Lacking the funds to submit heavily, we lost interest in the project soon after, although the film was also screened to a Film Studies graduate class in Australia, to a polarized reaction.

Kriemhild's Dream Trailer from James Brittain on Vimeo.

 

Kriemhild's Dream is an attempt at a postmodern allegory. We tend to think of allegory as being a rather cut and dry affair, such as Orwell's excellent Animal Farm, where characters and events have corollaries to real world history. Kriemhild's Dream follows instead the Spenserian model, which is much messier. Schemes of symbols are created and destroyed as they are useful or not. Phenomenology is represented in symbols reflecting and refracting meaning, systems are created, altered, destroyed according to whimsy.

 

Britomart is the everyperson, languishing in an oppressive system that leaves her abused with hardly enough food to eat. Yet she so accustomed to this abuse she hardly notices it, responding with rolled eyes rather than shock or outrage. Her dream is to escape her vampire lord and become a knight at the court of King Uther Pendragon. She has no real hope until she meets Sir Brastias, who gives her an impossible task to prove herself. Yet with Merlin's help she prevails, slaying Vampyr and journeying to Uther's castle.

 

There, Merlin has convinced Uther that they can use Britomart to their own ends, and Merlin gives her a magical sword with which she cannot fail in battle. But in the midst of a bloody rampage she meets Dispair, who gives to her the realization of her growing inhumanity. Having climbed the social ladder, she has merely found herself implicated in its violence and brutality. She descends into the waves to do battle, and arbitrarily completes her quest. Her reward is to wed to her “true love,” Artigal, and she descends into a new captivity, this time as housewife. She drinks herself into oblivion.

 

The medieval structure, already subverted and undermined, is now abandoned entirely. Britomart now finds herself working an uninteresting and isolated job. Her boss harasses her and can't remember her name. She lives alone. She meets Igrayne, who briefly appeared earlier as Uther's queen. Now the two women strike a romance, strangely stiff and distant, as if they have forgotten how to genuinely relate to people. The film repeatedly paws at the fourth wall, the camera or microphone are seen reflected, the unreality is emphasized.

 

No sooner do the two women connect, creating their own space separate from ideological control, where they question their lives and motivations, than Merlin and Brastias show back up to force them back into acceptable roles. The film ends with Britomart waking alone in a vat, her blood being drained and drunk by a business man. She frees herself and wanders the city alone, eating scraps and homeless. The film ends in the tradition of Christian epics, with her redemption. Yet, this is somehow unsatisfying, tacked on, and certainly not negating the suffering of her life.

 

The psychotic or psychedelic space in which the mind lives, separated from the strictly provable dimensions of the human experience, the space between the mind and the senses, this more than anything is the subject of Three Sisters. Reality is out there, somewhere, but seen through the eyes of the crazed and unreliable senses of the characters, distorted beyond easy recognition.

In Margret's Story, Margret sleeps, manipulated by a showman to dance and prostitute herself for his profit. Somnambulist, she prowls the night time city and murders, strangling men who would buy or take her body. Fredrick, an unemployed policeman, watches her from his window through a spyglass. He obsesses over the woman he does not know, sketching, spying. Language moves between nonsense and sense, metaphor point into the dark unknown, illuminating flashes of deeper but poorly understood currents. Fredrick is recruited to catch the killer by the vulgar and inarticulate police man Tom, and when he discovers the truth, that the killer is his longed for woman in white, he must choose between his duty to the law and his love for the sleeping woman, and try to save her from her manipulative showman, from the vulgar and simple minded police, and from her own incurable slumber. Will his love be enough, can love be enough to save the object of that love?

In Jane's story, Jane fills her body with an unknown cocktail of pills, both encouraged and abused by an enabling boyfriend. Her grip on reality, her ability to perceive the difference between herself and characters on her television, between reality and hallucination, disintegrates into a haze of alcohol and pills. But this is not a comfortable numb stupor. There are monsters here, and through a haze of confused perception the monster comes for her.

She retreats into the protection of three feral children hiding in the cupboard, but they cannot keep her mind from shifting away, back into the abusive reality of her life with her boyfriend, or into the clutches of the monster. Addled and abused, she breaks and determines to fight. She recruits the girls and together they set off to murder the monster of her hallucinatory dreams.

The third sister is as of yet undetermined. Two scripts exist, neither of which has proven producible, yet.

The release of Three Sisters remains uncertain. Margret's Story and Jane's story are essentially complete, and may be released in some way independent of the larger project. How, or if, the third sister plays out will determine the shape of the final product, whether a feature length DVD or independent shorts.

 

Go to top