DOCUMENTARY ' "N .'
Heart of the matter
‘The horror! The honor!’ - the dying words of renegade commercial agent Kurtz on the pages of Heart Of Darkness, and the nightmarish whispers that haunt Martin Sheen in Apocalypse How. Joseph Conrad’s novel has endured better than most down the years, since it was first serialised in Blackwood’s Magazine in
1899, acting as inspiration to T.S. Eliot i
for sections of The Waste Land and to filmmakers as diverse as Francis Coppola, Nicolas Roeg and Orson Welles.
The story tells of an Englishman, Marlow, as he sails down the Congo into unknown territory and into the presence of a fellow European who has created his own barbaric kingdom. Perhaps the novel’s continuing potency has more to do with its metaphorical qualities: the idea of a journey into the sell, of an examination into the depths of man’s capacity for cruelty. Most likely, it is a combination of the two: the juxtaposition of an internalised human landscape and an exotic African backdrop, which allows for a rich mixture of physical action and trenchant philosophy.
The book has an autobiographical foundation in Conrad’s trip in 1890 to Stanley Falls, but in its moral and spiritual meanderings, it gets beyond Victorian colonialism and into the
t The horror, the horror: Francis Coppola despaired of ever completing Apocalypse Now
realm of the universal. And even though the central themes of the book
; may be translated to American guilt over Vietnam, Africa remains an integral part of both the text and
subtext. In his Bookmark Special, director
i Adam Low has used Marlow’s voyage
as the starting point for another
journey up the same river, but this
’ time into modern Zaire. Drawing on a ' selection of readings from Heart Of
Darkness— and, unusually tor a
7 documentary, without commentary or ; interviews — the filmmakers blend
past and present, real and imagined. The words are from one century, the visual images from another, and yet the issues raised remain timeless.
J (Alan Morrison)
Bookmark Special: Heart Of Darkness
~ is on 8802 on Saturday July 22, and is
part of the channel’s African Summer season, which coincides with a festival of African Art In Britain.
I Pretabulous (Radio .1) Fri 14 Jill. l0.()2am. The infamous post-war housing solution that was meant to last for ten years and in some cases has ended tip enduring fifty comes under industrial strength scrutiny. Tessa Williams calls in on some of Britain's remaining pre-fab residents and finds some are so fond of these factory-built abodes that they’re campaigning for mass re-furbishment and even exercising their ‘Right to Buy".
I In the Psychiatrist’s Chair (Radio 4) Sun 16 Jul. 12.15pm. Doctor Anthony Clare invites a string of celebrity guests to lie down on his couch as he conducts iri- depth interviews from the psychiatrist‘s chair. Proliﬁc TV writer (‘arla1.ane of Butterﬂies and Bread fame is the first willing patient.
I COVCI' SIOI’ICS (Radio Scotland) Mon 17 Jul. noon. lan Docherty compares classic travel journals of the leatherbound variety to the hipper than hip. runaround Rough Guide style of today's travel bibles.
I Judge Oredtl (Radio 1) Mon 17 Jul. 4.20pm. As Sly Stallone muscles up for the movie role. Radio 1 does its bit for Judge Dredd fever with this daily dose of adventure with the armour-plated cornic- book hero.
I The Monday Play: Planet of Ashes (Radio 4) Mon 17 Jul. 7.45pm. Warren Mitchell and Frances Tornelty star in this drama recounting the harrowing events that pushed Auschwitz survivor Ezra Gorelik to try LSD therapy as away of rebuilding his shattered life.
I Alan's Blg One (Radio 1) Wed 19 Jul. 9pm. Well sardonic stand-up Alan Davies wreaks havoc on the airwaves with a new series of his ever-popular Big One. People pretending to be Paul Weller and Torvill and Dean will divulge their innermost
desires. and Davies offers up some handy tips on how to rip off your holiday insurance.
I Storyline: Love and Mongoose: (Radio Scotland) Hi 31 Jul. 11.45am. Paul Blair reads John McGill's colourftrl tale of tenement life in this popular series for book-lovers.
I Interactive Futures (Radio 1) Sun 23 Jul. 7pm. What's so great about the lnternet'.’ Why ofcourse — it‘s a new way of getting a lumber without having to appear on [311ml [)ure. As Radio 1 works up a sweat for its three-day advice special on relationships. Something Else Productions offer a peek into the world of virtual love and dating on the lntemet. played out to a mellow. dreamy soundtrack by mixmasters C(ilt/(‘llL
I Soap Suds (Radio 4) Wed 26 Jul. 10.02am. John Walters. a man whose claims to fame include being a producer on the The John Peel Show and a founder member of the Eddie Grundy fan club. takes a long hard look at the origins of the great British soap opera. (Ellie Carr)
Of course. we knew things were getting seriously cool when Michael Ironside turned up. Channel 4‘s er had grabbed us from the off with its ﬂawless character development. wicked humour. searing pathos and razor pacing.
In the time it would take Casually to let us know that the frail old woman with the junky grandson was going to get an electric shock from her kettle. the er team has whipped through seven or eight generally faceless but bloody patients. played some one-on-one basket ball. suffered a professional/ domestic/romantic trauma. paused for poignancy and told ajoke. Not since the garage doors of the Hill Street precinct ﬁnally closed has a TV setting seemed more real. somewhere you look forward to visiting. And then Michael Ironside. the trashman‘s Tommy Lee Jones. perennial psychopath and head- exploder is drafted in as head of emergency!
Things. we thought. don‘t get better than this. But we were wrong. In a seriously unnecessary gesture to hepdom. ‘Motherhood'. the penultimate episode of this series. was directed by none other than Quentin ‘oh-he‘s-so-passé-say-the-pseuds' Tarantino, no stranger to exploding heads himself. Therefore, we had the pleasure of seeing Dr Susan Lewis going about her daily routine wearing a Yosemite Sam T—shirt (a la Mr ()range and his Silver Surfer poster); we had Lewis and Nurse Hathaway marching in syncopation and sunglasses through the wards (hello Doggies); loving close-ups of seriously heavy-duty surgical bone-cutting equipment; farting boy scouts; lots of blood and women in pain, singing Beatles songs. There was even. brieﬂy, someone with a severed ear.
The camera roved and circled. restless and frantic and there were several stunningly complex and seamlessly choreographed long takes. However. perhaps the most impressive aspect of the whole err/Tarantino coupling was the fact that the episode didn‘t look or feel noticeably different from the rest of the series — due more to the fact that the programme always uses the same director of photography. than to the subtlety with which Tarantino interjected his. um. Tarantinoisrns. We love er. You get to use phrases like hyper-verité and go on about ensemble casts. The only thing wrong with the episode. actually. was that Michael Ironside wasn't in it.
Scary Dr Ironside would have been right at borne in Deadly [5.t'periirterrt5. though. This edition of True Stories (Channel 4) uncovered an incredibly disturbing and shameful history of govemrnent-funded radiation experiments carried out upon unwitting human guinea pigs in the US and the UK during the cold war years.
Cancer patients. pregnant women. problem children. were all used. without their knowledge. in tests to I ascertain the possible dangers of radiation to the military scientists involved in fabricating the bomb. The corpses of children and infants were i cannibaliscd for bones and organ parts I by hospital pathologists who sent them off to government scientists.
i Radioactive sodium had been injected
directly into the placentas of heavily
j pregnant women. it was revealed.
Unsurprisingly. few of the doctors
involved in dosing their patients with
, what was then considered the most
toxic substance known to man deigned
to appear before the camera to justify
their actions. Those who did. though.
were shockingly unrepentant. Didn't it
matter. asked the interviewer of one
elderly lady American doctor. that the
; people she injected with plutonium
suffered far more than they would have
in later years‘.’ ‘We don‘t know if they
i did.‘ she responded. “It doesn't matter
because we don't know.‘ Not that she
. had carried ottt any follow-up
examinations on any of her patients. In
t fact. the programme revealed the
4 human experiments were deemed useless and only the animal tests were held to have any scientific merit. When asked if it was wrong to use civilians in this way without their prior knowledge
3 or consent. the American doctor
replied: ‘I don't like the tenor of your
questions. I‘m not prepared to talk
about the ethics. Only the science.‘
Still. on a brighter note there's always Daytime TV (BBCZ). Indeed. a much brighter note. A screaming day-glo t fluorescent note. with neon strips down the side and big extra-bright brighto- bulbs popping all around it. in fact. This six-part lifestyle magazine aimed at a lesbian and gay audience screams FUN in a shrill. almost hysterical voice. foregoing the seriousness of some previous outings (ooyah!) for in-yer-
Features incltrdc ‘llomos and Gardens‘ wherein the camera is teased tip through the keyholes of the gay and famous. For instance. throwing his portal open wide for our inspection. 'liiles oft/re City author Armistead Maupin revealed a modest but exqtiisitely—formed pad straight from the pages of his own writing. Marc Almond sat in as studio guest and squirtned in delighted embarrassment as the members of the gay [)m'lnr Who fanclub wrapped him up in scarves, and some bloke on a beach indulged in body fascism for beginners.
Strangely. the programme has a similar. if slightly more polished, feel to a Sunday morning kids' magazine, right down to the presenters failing to deliver their scripted ‘wasn‘t that an interesting article‘ comments. with anything approaching spontaneity.
76 The List 14-27 Jul 1995