Not seen the film or read the book but have Camel's Snowgoose album.
Given the forthcoming remake, I felt it time to write a review of one of my favourite films before it was coloured by the remake.
I first read "The Snow Goose" by Paul Gallico in the mid 60s and found it very moving. I was delighted to find that a film of it had been made and was due to be shown during the Christmas holidays in 1971. My delight was even greater to discover that the gorgeous Jenny Agutter was in it - having fallen completely under her spell in the previous year's "The Railway Children".
The story is set in the Essex salt marshes not far from where I was brought up and it added further poignancy for me as I would be out walking and cycling in that area almost every Sunday during the latter part of the 60s.
The story revolves around the lives of two lonely people - lonely for very different reasons. The disabled recluse Philip Rhayader has shut himself away from a society which he feels shuns him for his disability. He wraps himself up in his painting and love of the wildfowl that use his land as a sanctuary. Frith is a young orphan whose parents disappeared in a storm and she has been brought up by the village fisherfolk - part and, yet, apart, from the village.
Separately, they are watching a white snow goose fly over the marshes when the wildfowlers shoot and injure it. This incident throws them together and they have to work as one to save it. Rhayader's disability is such that he would probably have been unable to cope alone.
Frith slowly overcomes her fear of the strange recluse that the villagers have bred into her as they tend the snow goose over the coming weeks and months.
Eventually, the snow goose does what all migratory birds do and leaves. Frith leaves too as there is no longer a reason to be there and Rhayader is once again alone with his paintings and birds.
Time passes and at long last Fritha, the snow goose, returns as does Frith and there is a short period of light and happiness in the story. But now it is a time of war and Rhayader does his best to help the war effort only to be rebuffed at every post. Finally, his great chance comes with the evacuation from Dunkirk....
The screenplay was by Paul Gallico but certain events had to be changed and the timescale foreshortened. In the book, the main events take place over a seven year timespan but in the film it is narrowed down considerably - probably for casting reasons.
The casting was excellent. Richard Harris was never better as the tormented and driven Philip Rhayader who was able to show his true nature when caring for the injured bird and in his growing friendship with Frith - culminating in his determination to do his bit at Dunkirk. Jenny Agutter was just Jenny Agutter - superb waif like innocence as she portayed the young Frith in her first dealings with Rhayader and a growing radiance as her confidence in him grew. All around was the desolation of the salt marshes that made for an eerie landscape and backdrop.
Of course, one can't forget Fritha - the Snow Goose. In order to ensure that the bird would come to Frith, when it was hatched it was given straight to Jenny so that she would be imprinted as "mother" and it would then follow her anywhere.
The final scenes are as moving as you will ever see on film - they still bring tears to my eyes.
There are a couple of scenes that, were the film to be made today [which is why I'm writing this before the remake's release] might give rise to some concern of darker meanings - Rhayader's "secret" painting of the young Frith cradling the injured snow goose for one.
I don't think the film was ever shown again on UK television and Paul Gallico later stipulated that it should never be shown again as the book said all he wanted to say. Apparently, the Gallico Estate no longer has any problems with a release but still it remains locked away - less than one hour of absolute perfection!
To my mind , it is nothing short of criminal that this film has not been released commercially.
It was only earlier this year that I finally tracked down the location of the lighthouse - I'd always thought [or hoped] it had been on Foulness Island or Wallasea Island but it turned out to be a little further north on Horsey Island.
If I was told I could only watch one more film - it would have to be this version of "The Snow Goose".
Thanks for that, Fell, you've really inspired me to see it.
Thank you, Diane. That has made writing it all worthwhile - and I am being serious!(Diane Blackwell @ Nov 11 2005, 11:25 AM)
Thanks for that, Fell, you've really inspired me to see it.
If you have a problem, you know where to ask
Nah, I won't ask!
The answer is no anyway!(samkydd @ Nov 15 2005, 12:38 PM)
Nah, I won't ask!
"Given the forthcoming remake, I felt it time to write a review of one of my favourite films before it was coloure[quote]d by the remake."
Thanks for the superb review,It is indeed a very beautiful film and I know that you could not better it
with a remake.I would love to see an official release.
Thanks for that Fellwanderer.
I used to have an album of the book beautifully narrated by Spike Milligan with music composed and conducted by Ed Welch. It was released in the mid-seventies. Paul Gallico collaborated on the production but died just before it was released.
Usual story....I lent it to somebody and never saw it again.
Quite an varied and interesting author was Gallico. His film credits include:
'Pride of the Yankees - The Lou Gehrig Story' (one of Gary Cooper's best roles)
'The Clock' (touching little film with Judy Garland and Robert Walker)
'The Little Miracle' (another touching little film about a Italian boy with a sick donkey who tries to get into the Vatican in the hope of a cure...definitely should be shown around Xmas)
'The Adventures of Hiram Holliday' (wonderfully played by Wally Cox on tv in the 50's)
'Mrs 'Arris Goes to Paris'
'The Poseiden Adventure' (being remade as I type)
'The Big Operator' (Filmed in the 50's. I only ever saw this once, in the 70's. It was memorable for the performances of Mickey Rooney, convincing as a vicious thug and Steve Cochran, usually a bit of a lightweight actor, outstanding as one of his victims...I wonder if anyone has a copy?)
and, of course...'The Snow Goose'
IS there any update on The Snow Goose. I really don't want to see a remake, just the original.In your post you mention that the Gallico estate is no longer holding it back. Is that true?
As far as I'm aware, it will be very different from the original. When I am at liberty to say more, I will.Originally Posted by babazaba
I have to agree with you - in my opinion, any attempt at simply remaking the original in its own image would be tantamount to sacrilege.
Checking for something else on IMDb just now and I noticed that the new version of The Snow Goose no longer appears which might indicate it has been shelved indefinitely. I hope so as there is only one reason I would have watched it since there is no way it would have been able to hold a candle to the original.Originally Posted by babazaba
I saw the film on the television once and have never seen it since. I subsequently read the book and both versions brought tears to my eyes, I love them both.
I finally got around to booking to see The Snow Goose at the BFI - a remarkably painless exercise. Why on earth did I wait so long?
How does that work then ?
Should we start taking up a collection? A ransom collection? I mean, will Fellw try to steal it, and then when trying to make his escape (rooftop helicopter or maybe Harriers), will he capture the BFI vault and create some hostage-situation - "Release these films or else!"
My helicopter pilot's license is up-to-date, Fellw. Just in case you need one. You can claim I'm a political prisoner, demand my release out of Texas and I'll be there in 8 hours. Well, 9 - a woman's packing and all. Darn... if only the Concorde was still around!
What countries don't have extradiction agreements with the UK? And also don't observe world copyrights? (OK OK, China doesn't observe them, but they DO claim to.) "More moo shoo, anyone?"
See:Originally Posted by PS68060
BFI | National Archive | Accessing the Collection | Research Viewing Service
As for Christine's suggestion - it's a very tempting offer but I suspect we'd end up in a situation similar to JA in Boon, making a getaway but unknowingly empty handed!
I thought they might have a little cinema for viewings.
In most cases, I am sure that they could easily get a dozen people along for "research purposes" or is that bending the rules :-)
From what I read, I believe they have something similar. I'm sure I did read that they could cater for group viewings.Originally Posted by PS68060
Well, I doubt there's anyone really interested in seeing this film. This thread is constantly littered with disintest.
Yeah. Right. I'd love to get it for about a 2-week theatre stay and see how the crowds grow.