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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


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


Reference number: 3703

Date: 1964

Director: filmed by Margaret Tait

Production company: Ancona Films

Sound: sound

Original format: 16mm

Colour: bw

Fiction: fiction

Running time: 32.48 mins

Description: A film poem in seven parts: 1. Complex, 2. Here and Now, 3. Interlude, 4. Crocodile, 5. Come and See This, 6. Out of this World, 7. The Bravest Boat. In Margaret Tait's own words "Starting with a six-line script which just noted down a kind of event to occur, and recur, my aim was to construct a film with its own logic, its own correspondences within itself, its own echoes and rhymes and comparisons, all through close exploration of the everyday, the commonplace, in the city, Edinburgh, where I stayed at the time...".

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

Online tour of this title, interpreted by contemporary Scottish writer Ali Smith can be found on the LUX website at: http://www.luxonline.org.uk/tours/margaret_tait(2).html [last accessed 25/7/2013].

"... Margaret was born in 1918 on Orkney, but was sent away to school in Edinburgh when she was nine. Her impressions of the strangeness of that (to her) 'new' urban world are echoed in Where I am is Here (1964) with its melancholic, repetitive structure, images of coal-blackened streets, and sad 'crocodiles' of schoolgirls in rigid uniforms; a film that is none the less essentially about coming to terms with 'the present'..." [Source: taken from online resource. No longer available. 3/4/2008]

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 presents
m. Hector MacAndrew
the song 'Hilltop Pibroch'
singer Lilane
fiddler Hector MacAndrew
Animals in Zoopark, Edinburgh appear courtesy of the Director Secretary
sd. engineers Park Film Studios Ltd.
p. Alex Pirie

Shotlist: title credits (0.27) gvs tree branches and the title 'COMPLEX' drawn out in letters by Tait's hands (1.15) writing, building site mixing concrete, uses cards being built up in fast sequence, beach by night, lights, danger sign, birds, raindrops, 'words words words' children sledging in snow 'A Start, An End' (5.20) HERE AND NOW ints Tait filming in her studio, a man yawns [possibly Alex Pirie?]. Busy street scenes, water running in river, a waterfall, man fishing, school playground with hopscotch board chalked out, c/u tree roots and branches, model boats sailing on pond, road works, Edinburgh tenement back court (11.36) INTERLUDE street scenes ladies in uniform (Salvation Army?) walking along from church, swans, snow falls, newsagent's shop front , steam roller in Edinburgh Street, c/u painting a door, c/u polishing shoes, making cup of tea, bulldozer (14.28) CROCODILE ladies again, they walk along pavement in the snow, looking out of window at snow, c/u clock, smoky scenes, fire on hillside (?) as fire fighter beats the heather, c/u apple and inkpot on table, person on bus with heavy case, c/u busy traffic and street, taxis, pedestrians, shops including exts watchmaker, street scenes again briefly featuring Princes Street and Edinburgh Castle in the dusk, lights on trees, hillside again, chimney, clock, bus, newspaper boards (19.58) COME AND SEE THIS bulldozer at work, shop exts, stairwell 'Millers Wireless' shop, street sweeper, painting doorway in c/u, park with ducks and swans, boats in water, wooden rowing boats, street scenes Edinburgh New Town, bus tram conductor, bulldozer (24.09) OUT OF THIS WORLD streets and traffic, lorry, tracking shot tram, snow falling, children play and sledge in the snow (26.05) THE BRAVEST BOAT model boat sets sail on pond, waterfall, small boys help boat along, c/u fire, exts Caledonian Insurance Co. and Bank of Scotland, bonfire, fire of old rubbish beds etc in street, children run around it, children play in swingpark, busy pavements on Princes Street, more exts insurance buildings, exts new offices for Standard Life Insurance Co., sign for 'St. Andrew Square', various signposts, c/u birds and animals behind bars at zoo, lions etc, boat on pond again, beach with tide far out (32.03) ecs (32.48)