COLOUR POEMS

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Margaret Tait – Selected Films 1952-1976

Margaret Tait was one of Britain’s most unique filmmakers. Her life’s work consisted of making film poems and over the course of 46 years she produced over 30 films including one feature. She also published three books of poetry and two volumes of short stories. This DVD contains a collection of films made by Tait between 1952 and 1976. Films included on this DVD are:

Portrait of Ga (1952),
Aerial (1974),
Hugh MacDiarmid,
A Portrait (1964),
Colour Poems (1974),
Where I Am Is Here (1964),
Place of Work (1976),
Tailpiece (1976),
John Macfadyen (The Stripes in the Tartan) (1970)

Black-and-white and colour
Silent and sound
Running time: 110 minutes

£10.00

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Subjects:

  • Emotions, attitudes and behaviour
  • Politics
  • War

Genres:

  • Experimental
  • Animation
  • Women film makers

People/organisations:

  • JAY, Ronald L.
  • TAIT, Margaret

Decade:

  • 1970s

Related films

AERIAL
1974 | bwcol | sound
PAINTED EIGHTSOME
1970 | col | sound
JOHN MACFADYEN
1970 | col | sound
THESE WALLS
1974 | bwcol | silent
TAILPIECE
1976 | bw | sound
OCCASIONS
1977 | col | sound

Please read Understanding catalogue records for help interpreting this information and Using footage for more information about accessing this film.

Overall rating:

Title: COLOUR POEMS

Reference number: 3697

Date: 1974

Director: [filmed by Margaret Tait]

Production company: Ancona Films

Sound: sound

Original format: 16mm

Colour: bwcol

Fiction: fiction

Running time: 11.20 mins

Description: Seven linked film 'poems', described by Margaret Tait herself as follows: A poem started in words, and referring to distant memories to do with people going or not going to the Spanish Civil war, goes on in the picture (in "Numen of the Boughs") ; memory gets somewhat lost in the present observation, although it never disappears, and there are reverberations back, even in the brief life of the poppies in " Terra Firma". Out of one's own memory and thought one then finds (or arranges ) the external scenes which can be filmed and made into something else again.

Hand coloured scratched drawings are included in this film, which also features live action.

See also ref. 6227. Although ref. 6227 is one of the titles of the poems in "Colour Poems", it's not the same as that part of Colour Poems, where only a part of this film has been incorporated. In fact this film looks rather experimental, with odd sequences of titles cropping up through it. The last 100ft or so which features very vivid translucent colour certainly doesn't occur in "Colour Poems".

Margaret Tait said of this film in the 1983 Channel 4 documentary 'Margaret Tait- Film Maker' [VHS copy held by Scottish Screen Archive] "A poem started in words and completed in images. A poem started in words goes on in the picture; part of quite another (finished) poem is read for the last of the nine. Out of my own memory and thought, I find the external scenes to make a picture from"

"In 25 years of unremitting application to the film medium, Margaret Tait has evolved the style that allows her to display and offer what Alfred Kazin, writing of Simone Weil, called "a loving attentiveness to all the living world " . That definition of her philosophy, of her method, holds true, whether the setting is an Edinburgh street, the banks of an Orkney burn, a domestic interior or a human face. Unlike so much that is called experimental and avant-garde, her films are not merely exercises in perception. Her film images are accessible (A thistle is invariably a thistle), they are of the everyday, and, at one level, a presentation of things as they are. But, in their framing, in their rhythmical patterning, in their duration, those images offer a vision of the mystery and ambiguity with which so-called common objects are saturated. " Alex Pirie 1977.

See also MA thesis submitted to University of East Anglia by Winn, Joss Preserving the Hand Painted Films of Margaret Tait, 2002.

"Memories which affect chance observation. A poem started in words and continued in images. Part of another poem read as an addition to the picture. Some images formed by direct-on-film animation - others 'found' by the camera" [Source: Draft 3 of The Autonomous Film-Maker by Peter Todd, 1979. Further detailed analysis of this title and ref. 6227 NUMEN OF THE BOUGHS can be found here, at Paper Archives 11/1/455]

See also Additional Information file at 11/1/455. Paper Archives 4/5/119, 4/11/651, 4/5/92.

Film Festival Screenings: 1st Festival Independent British Cinema, Bristol. Edinburgh International Film Festival 1976. 3rd International Avant-Garde Festival of Film, London.

The Tait papers are deposited in Orkney Archives. Currently being catalogued. For any enquiries please contact Principal Archivist.

The British Artist's Film and Video Study Collection at http://www.bftv.ac.uk/avantgarde based at Central St. Martin's College of Art and Design holds an artist's file on Margaret Tait.

The British Film Institute National Library http://www.bfi.org.uk holds many of the published articles on her and her work.

In 1979 Margaret Tait was the subject of a BBC Scotland 'Spectrum' arts programme.

Credits: Ancona Films offers
by Margaret Tait
[m. Monia Liter]

Shotlist: (0.00) title and opening credits (0.20) Numen Of The Boughs mixture of hand painted and scratched imagery [Margaret Tait speaks poetry by Sorley MacLean on soundtrack] (1.49) war veterans walking along, standing to attention with medals in c/u (2.15) Old Boots c/u pair of old boots (2.45) Speed Bonny Boat lifeboat, other boats including passengers boarding (4.44) Lapping Water gvs same, waves lapping on beach (5.27) Incense hand scratched drawings and c/u girl's face, repetitive word 'AHA' (6.22) Brave New World gvs construction site, police, landscape (7.44) Objects Found montage of images, including paper, refuse [commentary radio discussing politics, the weather] (8.32) Terra Firma gvs garden poppies, landscape [Margaret Tait speaks poetry on soundtrack] (11.18) Fin Fine End (11.20)

[Seven linked film 'poems', described by Margaret Tait herself as follows: A poem started in words, and referring to distant memories to do with people going or not going to the Spanish Civil war, goes on in the picture (in "Numen of the Boughs") ; memory gets somewhat lost in the present observation, although it never disappears, and there are reverberations back, even in the brief life of the poppies in "Terra Firma". Out of one's own memory and thought one then finds (or arranges) the external scenes which can be filmed and made into something else again.]