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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

 

directed by John Prowse (director), Anna Home (producer)
UK 1975

 

After a period of unseasonable and unprecedented severe weather, the residents of an English city (if not the country or the world) are overcome with a compulsion to destroy every piece of modern technology in sight from household conveniences to neighborhood cars and public transportation. With their home and city in ruins, Nicky Gore's (Victoria Williams, THE RAPTURE) father and pregnant mother decide to make for the coast and onto France where it has been rumored that things are normal. Nicky gets separated from her parents and goes back home to wait for them. After two weeks without word and rumors of sickness from contaminated water and violence in the neighboring streets, Nicky starts off for the coast herself. She runs into a band of Sikhs – lead by a wise "grandmother" (Sahab Qizilbash) – who are at reluctant to let her accompany them, particularly when she violently attacks them for trying to start up an abandoned car; however, they realize that her ability to sense "wicked things" may come in handy. They stick to the roads and away from the villages where they have encountered unfriendliness ranging from verbal abuse to physical attacks until they discover an abandoned farm where they can settle down (the dead but still "wicked" power lines forming a barrier between the farm and the village for those so sensitive to it that to even speak of machines and electronics provokes attacks). The Sikhs build a forge to make tools as well as weapons to defend themselves, thinking that they can trade new tools and mend broken ones with the locals in exchange for food and livestock; but the locals – lead by sword-wielding Mr. Barnard (David King) – believe the Sikhs to be "the devil's children" and will only deal with them through Nicky. When a gang of robbers lay siege to the town and hold the children as hostages, Nicky and the Sikhs recognize their moral obligation to help the villagers despite their previous treatment. When Nicky's journey to the Cotswalds in search of a reclusive aunt takes an unexpected detour, she finds herself accused of witchcraft – by Davy Gordon (David Garfield) who has established himself the authority on sniffing out wickedness – scapegoat of an another unfriendly village's problems as they try to re-adapt to a simpler way of life. When Gordon finds her guilty of witchcraft and sentenced to death by stoning, teenage siblings Jonathon (Keith Ashton) and Margaret (Zuleika Robson, INN OF THE FRIGHTENED PEOPLE) – who, like Nicky, have noticed a diminishment in their aversion to technology – decide to rescue Nicky and get her to France via a boat that Jonathon was restoring before "the changes". With modern day (although no more progressive) witchfinders on her trail, Nicky is torn between trying to get to her parents and the primal urge that pulls her towards the source of THE CHANGES.

A reverse-chronology adaptation of the trilogy of novels by Peter Dickinson, THE CHANGES was quite ambitious and mature stuff for a children's audience (even a British children's audience) with its young, middle-class heroine being awakened to the classism, sexism, and racism lying just beneath the surface of everyday British life, with the unnatural regression causing people to shed their civility and search out scapegoats to explain uncertainty and justify ruthless and prejudicial behavior (although it is implied that it was not such a stretch for some). Along the way Nicky meets a number of previous nobodies who arose to influence amidst the chaos through their use of force or smooth talking (and the weak-willed who follow their lead out of fear or lack of character), but the Sikhs are not the only good people she meets. Besides siblings Margaret and Jonathon (the latter accompanies Nicky through the remainder of her journey), Nicky also meets kindly Tom (Arthur Hewlett, LOVE AMONG THE RUINS) who helps facilitate dealings between the town and "the devil's children", couple Jack (Tony Hughes) and Mary (Merelina Kendall, 1984) who were "back to nature" before "the changes" and suffered less because of it, and Mr. Furbelow (Oscar Quitak, BRAZIL) unbalanced by his own noble motives. The series was long in going into production because of concerns over the story as well as the comparatively extravagant budget (it ended up being shot entirely on film on location by two different filming units so as not to monopolize the video unit and studio space). Although all ten episodes were directed by John Prowse, the series was the long-gestated brainchild of producer Anna Home, a BBC executive who almost single-handedly revived the network's children's drama output after a period of dormancy from the late sixties to the early seventies; and THE CHANGES remains a well-remembered piece of BBC children's television history.

Eric Cotenas

 

Theatrical Release: 6 January 1975 - 10 March 1975 (UK TV)

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DVD Review: British Film Institute - Region 2 - PAL

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the Review!

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Distribution

British Film Institute

Region 2 - PAL

Runtime 4:06:08
Video

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

Audio English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono
Subtitles English, none
Features Release Information:
Studio: British Film Institute

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• DISC ONE:
• Episodes (with 'Play All' option; 4:3; 2:02:40):
• - 1. 'The Noise' (24:57)
• - 2. 'The Bad Wires' (24:51)
• - 3. 'The Devil's Children' (24:53)
• - 4. 'Hostages!' (24:24)
• - 5. 'Witchcraft' (23:37)
• VIntage featurette 'At Home in Britain' (4:3; 33:49)

• DISC TWO:
• Episodes (with 'Play All' option; 4:3; 2:02:24):
• - 6. 'A Pile of Stones' (24:40)
• - 7. 'Heartsease' (24:38)
• - 8. 'Lightning!' (24:20)
• - 9. 'The Quarry' (24:40)
• - 10. 'The Cavern' (24:08)
• Stills Gallery

• 28-page Liner Notes Booklet

DVD Release Date: August 25th, 2014
Amaray

Chapters 20

 

Comments

Transferred from the BBC's tape masters, the BFI's digital clean-up has minimized video artefacts, giving the image a more filmic (the production was shot entirely on film) if still somewhat digitized presentation. The Dolby Digital 2.0 mono track is clear but only particularly vibrant when it comes to the scoring. The optional English subtitles are helpful with some of the thicker accents and softer-spoken dialogue.

The only video extra is the Office of Race Relations documentary "At Home in Britain" created to foster more understanding between employers and workers and their Sikh, Hindu, and Muslim co-workers. The included booklet discusses the history of BBC children's drama programming, the difficulty of producer Anna Home getting THE CHANGES into production, recollections from composer Paddy Kingsland (THE BOY FROM SPACE), and some biographical information on Peter Dickinson, author of the source novels.

  - Eric Cotenas

 


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DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

Distribution

British Film Institute

Region 2 - PAL

 



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