Directed by Kenneth MacPherson
UK 1930

 

  A groundbreaking silent film for its explicit theme of racial prejudice and with an implicit homoerotic subtext, Borderline (1930) is a seething exploration of love, passion and betrayal, directed by Kenneth Macpherson, editor of the influential intellectual film journal Close Up (1927-33).

In May 2006, a presentation of Borderline with a new score written and performed live by British composer and saxophonist Courtney Pine at Tate Modern attracted 2,000 people. Now released on DVD, Borderline's formal experimentation finds a perfect match in the contemporary rhythms of Pine's heady modern jazz score. Packaged in a double disc set, this release also contains two films by Véronique Goël.

Prior to Borderline, Kenneth Macpherson had made three short films, but this was his first feature and by far his most ambitious effort, released a year after Dziga Vertov's pioneering Man With a Movie Camera (1929). Borderline features the iconic star Paul Robeson and his wife Eslanda, and other cast members from the Close Up collective (intellectuals from the editorial board who called themselves the Pool group) including Hilda Doolittle later known as H.D., Robert Herring and Winifred Bryher.

Highly influenced by the psychological realism of GW Pabst and Sergei Eisenstein's montage, the film is a lost classic of the British avant-garde. Borderline tells the story of a tense, inter-racial love triangle and its deadly consequences. Macpherson embellishes this story by portraying the extreme psychological states of the characters. The result is a unique and complex matrix of racial and sexual tension moving between the boundaries of black and white, male and female and the conscious and the unconscious.

Theatrical Release: October 13th, 1930

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DVD Review: BFI (2-disc) - Region 2 - PAL

DVD Box Cover

   

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Distribution BFI Video - Region 2 - PAL
Borderline is also available in Criterion's Region 1 NTSC boxset entitled Paul Robeson: Portraits of the Artist:

             

Runtime 1:11:54 (4% PAL Speedup)
Video 1.33:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 9.10 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

Audio (Dolby Digital 2.0) 
Subtitles English, None (for extras)
Features

Release Information:
Studio: BFI Video

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• Filmed interview with Courtney Pine
• Kenwin (1996, 86mins) Documentary by Véronique Goël, including home movie footage, on the house that H.D., Bryher and Macpherson built at La Tour-de-Peilz
• Close Up - documentary on the film journal by Véronique Goël(13 mins)
• Trailers for Dreams That Money Can Buy (Hans Richter, 1948) co-produced by Kenneth Macpherson and Pink Narcissus (James Bidgood, 1971)
• 20-page illustrated booklet containing essays by Sukhdev Sandhu, Jamie Sexton and David Bailey

DVD Release Date: April 30th, 2007

Transparent double standard Keep Case
Chapters: 12

 

 

Comments:

BFI have done this film justice with a complete 2-disc boxset.  The image looks on par with the Criterion Paul Robeson 'Portraits of the Artist' collection. Marks are visible and contrast flickers to some degree but I'll wager this is probably the best you will see the film look. It has the same wonderful Courtney Pine score as put on the Criterion and optional subtitles for all the extras.

Supplements include a filmed interview with Courtney Pine (14 minutes), Close Up - documentary featurette on the film journal by Véronique Goël (13 minutes), some text bio screens and on the second disc a documentary by Véronique Goël, called Kenwin (1996, 86mins) which includes home movie footage, on the house that H.D., Bryher and Macpherson built at La Tour-de-Peilz. There is also a wonderful 20-page illustrated booklet containing essays by Sukhdev Sandhu, Jamie Sexton and David Bailey.

Great work BFI making this available for PAL audiences and those not as interested in the rest of the Robeson titles offered in the Criterion edition.  

Gary W. Tooze

 

 



DVD Menus


Disc 2

 


Intertitle Samples

 

 


 

Screen Captures

 

Criterion (From the Paul Robeson 'Portraits of the Artist' boxset) - Region 1 NTSC TOP vs. BFI - Region 2 - PAL BOTTOM

 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 

 


 

 


 

 


 

DVD Box Cover

   

CLICK to order from:

 

Distribution BFI Video - Region 2 - PAL
Borderline is also available in Criterion's Region 1 NTSC boxset entitled Paul Robeson: Portraits of the Artist:

             




 

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