Penda’s Fen

Penda’s Fen | Alan Clarke | UK 1974 | 90 Min | DCP

Image copyright BBC

“I wanted to write something that grew out of the landscape,” said David Rudkin about his Play for Today, Penda’s Fen. When filmmaker Alan Clarke (Scum) set about adapting Rudkin’s script to the screen, he confessed he wasn’t quite sure what it was about, and decades after its initial broadcast, it remains mysterious. An epic tale of myth and identity, in which a sanctimonious, closeted vicar’s son has a spiritual and sexual awakening after being visited by a series of angels, gargoyles, and the ghosts of Edward Elgar and a long-dead pagan king, Penda’s Fen is the most magical of all British folk horror films, what scholar Sukhdev Sandhu called “a lasting vision of heresy and pastoral horror.”

Alan Clarke
Clarke, Alan (* 1935, † 1990) was a British television and film director. Working for ITV and the BBC, he brought countless plays to the small screen, including David Rudkin’s Penda’s Fen. He was notorious for tackling controversial and political topics, his social realism, and settings in communities on the fringes of society. Dealing with youth prisons, his TV film Scum was banned by the BBC and remade as a feature film in 1979. Clarke also directed the notable television play Made in Britain, starring Tim Roth as a racist skinhead, and several documentaries, including Vodka Cola, which examined multinational corporations.
Language eOV
Cast Spencer Banks, John Atkinson, Georgine Anderson, Ron Smerczak, Ian Hogg, Jennie Heslewood
Writer David Rudkin
Editing Henry Fowler
Cinematography Michael Williams