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Saturday, August 16, 2014

50 Words For Kate: #11 - Happening

On a rainy November Saturday in 1993, Amanda and I were back in London on another Kate Bush-related mission. Premiering as part of the 37th London Film Festival was Kate's first ever short film, a modern fairytale called, The Line, The Cross And The Curve.

Kate had decided that instead of a tour, she would put her energies into making a mini-musical structured around songs from The Red Shoes album. Given her growing interest in directing, it was a natural progression for her to attempt a longer piece. Kate managed to pull the whole production together in just a few short months.

The film starred Kate as a dancer, who feels insecure about her talent. One night, while alone in her studio, she is visited by a strange woman, played by Miranda Richardson, who is distraught and desperate to find her way home. She persuades Kate to draw her a line, a cross and a curve, then offers a gift in thanks...

A mysterious man, played by Kate's dance and movement mentor, Lindsay Kemp, assists Kate in finding her way home, by singing back the symbols the stranger has stolen from her.

In the end, Kate is able to win back her path, her heart and her smile from the stranger and make it back to her studio in one piece.

The film's premiere, in the Odeon West End in Leicester Square, was a hugely exciting event. Kate's film was part of a double bill with the Wallace and Gromit adventure The Wrong Trousers, which had the audience in hysterics. Talk about a hard act to follow. Kate attended the event and was seated just a few rows in front of us. It was surreal to say the least! Kate shared a few words with the audience before the film screened.

Given the extreme time pressures Kate was under, the finished film is a real achievement. There are plenty of interesting visual ideas and no lack of ambition, though inevitably time and budget pressures limited that somewhat. Miranda and Lindsay are wonderful, as you would expect, and Kate gives a strong, emotional performance, even if she seems more comfortable singing than delivering dialogue.

Of course, the film industry is a tough arena, and critics were largely unimpressed, dismissing it as an extended music video.Kate, always her own harshest critic, took the negative response to heart. Interviewed by Q magazine in 2001, she said:

"I shouldn't have done it... I was so tired. I'm very pleased with four minutes of it, but I'm very disappointed with the rest. I let down people like Miranda Richardson who worked so hard on it. I had the opportunity to do something really interesting and completely blew it.. It dissipated my energy severely and threw me into a state of sever exhaustion. You just get worn down."

Fans, of course, disagree with Kate's brutal assessment. By any objective measure, there is much to enjoy in the film. It is not surprising though, given everything she had been through over the preceding few years, that Kate was emotionally and physically exhausted. What she needed was a good long break...

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