Akenfield (DVD + Blu-ray)
About this deal
Blythe himself wrote an initial treatment of the book though it would take a number of years and the help of producer Rex Pyke to solidify the project financially.
In pictures: on location on Peter Hall’s rural time-collage
Pinter himself would sit in on a cut of Akenfield to help with advice on the film’s various dubbing. Tuddenham, who was also native of Suffolk, is perhaps better known for another voice role, playing the part of Zen the spaceship in the TV series, Blake’s 7 (1978-81).His debut feature was the comedy Work Is a 4-letter Word (1968), though he worked on his first real cinematic success, an adaptation of William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, in the same year. He manages to capture some of the most haunting and beautiful evocations of Suffolk ever committed to film, with a dreamlike soft-focus permeating throughout. Akenfield and Requiem for a Village pair well in the same way that Blythe’s and Ewart-Evans’ books complement each other as they explore the idiosyncrasies and natural drama surrounding belief, work and magic(k) in the rural Suffolk communities.
To reflect the documentary precision of Blythe’s book, Hall worked largely with genuine Suffolk residents and non-actors for almost every role in the film.Hall collaborated with Harold Pinter to adapt his play The Homecoming – a claustrophobic tale of disturbing family power-play all taking place in a cramped Hackney household – into a film. Perhaps more so than any other film from this period, Akenfield captures the shifting elements of English village life with a deep affection that is devoid of the usual oversimplifying lens of nostalgia.
Being great admirers of each other’s work, Blythe and Hall collaborated closely on adapting Akenfield into a film. Though almost cascading at times in its slips in time, Hall also brings a seasonal cyclic quality to his drama, showing the landscape at differing heights of the year.
The main professional actors used were comedian Stanley Baxter, who plays the village blacksmith, and Peter Tuddenham, who voices the film as old Tom.