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Two Robert Aickman videos

These two videos appeared in the sidebar of Youtube recently while I was watching an M.R. James documentary. I'm sharing them here primarily for the benefit of [personal profile] poliphilo and [personal profile] sovay, with both of whom I recently enjoyed a conversation about Aickman's work. [personal profile] rosamicula may also enjoy them, and / or wish to draw them to the attention of Mr. Ward. Apologies to [personal profile] sovay if it proves that either or both are blocked in the US - I can't tell from here.

First, a one-hour TV adaptation of 'The Hospice' from 1987:


This is excellent. It's a very faithful adaptation, which perhaps manages to be even more frightening and unsettling than the original story by virtue of being visual. Jack Shepherd does an excellent job as Maybury, conveying just perfectly the character's very English desire to respect local protocol and not make a fuss even when everything around him is becoming nightmarishly baffling and confusing. Some of the stuff which happens to him during the night is made more concrete and conventionally-frightening than in the original story, but that seemed to me like a good pragmatic decision, given how difficult it is to convey the internal, psychological fear at the heart of so much of the written version in a dramatic adaptation.

Second, a 53-minute documentary all about Aickman from 2015:


And this is excellent too! It certainly springs from and presents a very strong understanding of Aickman's work. I particularly liked a well-articulated statement early on about how his stories are typically open to both psychological and supernatural explanations, but that the one is in tension with the other, while Aickman of course refuses to choose between them and leaves that open to us. It is also really well put together and packed with excellent material - interviews with multiple close friends of Aickman, archive footage of his activities as part of the Inland Waterways Association, clips from various different TV adaptations of his work and even tape recordings of him reading some of his own stories. It adds up to a very good, detailed account of his life and activities, some of which I knew already from the introduction and afterword in my edition of Cold Hand in Mine, but which was nice to have rounded out into a fuller picture. I think his stories already make fairly clear that he was an unusual man, rather out of kilter or even sympathy with the rest of humanity, and the biographical details in this documentary confirm that ten-fold. But, as one of his long-term friends comments, that is partly because the best of him was in his work, and we can all be grateful for that. Meanwhile, and utterly tangentially to the point, this documentary also offers the additional pleasure of watching the Scotts, a couple who were also long-term friends of Aickman's, sit on a sofa throughout the documentary, mirroring one another's body-language, listening to one another respectfully and corroborating one another's statements. Bless them both for having built themselves such an obviously profound and harmonious partnership.


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