Ralph Vaughan Williams on Film

Saturday 24 March 2018 – 18:00
71 mins
Certificate: DFF PG
Venue: Dorking Halls

To mark the 60th anniversary of the death of the Ralph Vaughan Williams the Dorking Film Festival is screening two films about the composer. Vaughan Williams spent part of his childhood at Leith Hill Place before moving to Dorking later in his life as well as being the conductor of the Leith Hill Musical Festival from its beginning in 1905 to 1953. The first film will be the Vaughan Williams: A Symphonic Portrait, a film made by Ken Russell for the South Bank Show in 1984. This will be followed by the Humphrey Jennings documentary The Dim Little Island featuring Vaughan Williams’ own take on why the future was optimistic in the late 1940s.

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Ralph Vaughan Williams on Film programme


Vaughan Williams: A Symphonic Portrait
Director: Ken Russell. UK 1984, 60 mins.
Ken Russell made eight films for the London Weekend Television arts show The South Bank Show between 1983 and 2002. His second covered Ralph Vaughan Williams. In typical Russell style the director is front and centre before the camera for much of the film both as an interviewer and in impressionistic sequences. However, he works hard to bring the material to life through discussions with his own daughter about the composer, with the close collaboration of Ursula Vaughan Williams who co-wrote the script and visit to many locations associated with Vaughan Williams.

The Dim Little Island
Director: Humphrey Jennings. UK 1948, 11 mins.
Four prominent figures of the late 1940s offer personal reasons to be cheerful in the rebuilding that following the Second World War. Osbert Lancaster, the satirical cartoonist, John Ormston, an industrialist, James Fisher, a naturalist and Ralph Vaughan Williams present their arguments for why the future might be bright.

Image of statue of Ralph Vaughan Williams statue outside Dorking Halls by Leo Leibovici CC BY 2.0