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Screening of Luna de Miel at Ashbrittle, Somerset
Sunday, May 26th 2002

Well I needed a break from the routine - and I certainly got it.

I got down to Somerset in reasonable time considering that I was held up for an hour on the road past Stonehenge - it was the longest day and all the summer solstice watchers were out in force to see the sunrise at the stones.

When I pulled into Ashbrittle I saw some people gathered on the village green and that there was a marquee and some stalls set up so I went and asked if Charles was around. He wasn't (he'd just nipped back home to get something) but Susan, his American wife who I'd met in Spain was. So we caught up with what we'd been up to since we last met & she showed me around & introduced me to the other people that were organising all the events for the Ashbrittle Midsummer Festival.

The only place in the village big enough to screen the film was the church (well, it's meant to be for community events) and I had a wander around the church. A very nice Norman church with a lot of original work still in place.

Note the ropes for pulling up the blinds to black-out the windows

The posters were all ready outside the church and around the green and Susan and others were selling the tickets.

Charles Doble and his
CinemaScope projectors
Charles turned up with the people who were helping him to set up all the equipment, Henry Fisher & Peter Gourlay. We had a chat but I mainly left them to get on with it as they knew all the equipment and I tried not to get in the way (too much).

The view from the church
Columba arrived at about 4, so after introductions we went for a look around the village & the stalls that were set up for the festival. As well as the stalls they had various events planned, the film show was just one of them. We sat down with a drink and had a chat, catching up on what had been happening since we last met.

Charles did bring both CinemaScope projectors as they'd run a test a few days before & managed to fix the sound on the secondary one so he thought that even if they couldn't run them as a pair that one could act as a standby. Good job he did, just before the show was due to start the rectifier supplying power to the xenon lamp on his favoured projector went bang - so there was no power for the lamp on that one. The other one had a different lamp so they couldn't just swap that over.

But they got it going, put up the blackout screens outside the church and Charles introduced it by telling them about P&P, the film & his restoration. It had just started to rain & there were a few minor rumbles from a summer storm outside but the blackout was secure.

As they were just running from the one projector they had to pause for a few minutes every time they needed to change reels. But, as in Spain where they had to do the same thing, it gave people a chance to discuss the part of the film they'd just seen and it worked out quite well.

For those of you who think you've seen Luna de Miel / Honeymoon - you haven't! It really is a quite different film now it's been restored. There is so much more there now. It's much more than just a travelogue with a bit of dancing, it's a well balanced story with some great flamenco/ballet in it. One pure flamenco, one pure ballet and in between, one that's a combination of the two. The flamenco is a joy to behold, the sexiest dancing I've ever seen on film. Both the other main dance numbers are very "filmic" making good use of the advantages that the camera offers. They couldn't be done like that on stage. In between there are a few other lighter numbers like Antonio dancing down the road when he gets dumped by the fiery Rosita and Antonio & Ludmilla dancing around the Alhambra.

But it's still a mystery what Anthony Steel is doing there :)
The story itself isn't very strong. It shows a severe lack of Emeric. There are plot holes all over the place.

But it's well worth watching.

As I said there was a summer storm outside which meant it was fairly dark outside. As they got to reel 3 the film was looking a bit paler. Reel 4 was actually hard to see. It was then that Charles realised that there should have been a backing sheet to the screen! So we had a 5 minute break while they fixed that. The rest of the film looked so much better :)

I had a word with quite a few people about the film. They seemed to have really enjoyed it. The screening took £140 for the festival so Charles is now thinking about doing a screening there fairly regularly. As it's in a church there are some films that wouldn't be suitable - The Wicker Man was mentioned as particularly unsuitable what with it's strong pagan storyline :)

"600 CMB" number plate
on the Jag

Columba & Mrs Browne
with her Jag
As we came out Charles introduced Columba and myself to the Brownes, the couple who had bought the number plate that was on the Bentley in the film (not Micky's Bentley) and is now on a Jaguar - which they'd brought along! So I took a few photos of them and the number plate as well.

Columba had to get back so left fairly early (about 10pm I think, I wasn't watching the clock) - well 10pm is quite early on such a long day. But he told us he'd had a great time and thought it was almost like a totally different film.

Charles mowing the lawn
Susan, Charles & I went back to their house where, after watching the video of AMOLAD I happened to have with me (see later as to why) we retired. After a leisurely breakfast Charles showed me around the place. I was introduced to his Highland cattle (one of them is named Ludmilla in honour of the lovely lady who has often visited there). Then I headed off.
Charles and the mine
he's restoring

Charles and "Ludmilla"

But not straight home. I went in the opposite direction to go and visit Saunton Sands on the north Devon coast (near Westward Ho! - the only place in the UK with an exclamation mark in its name). Saunton Sands is a very nice beach, about 5 miles long, with very extensive sand dunes behind the beach. The dunes may well have changed quite a bit since they were filmed in the beach scene in AMOLAD but I took a lot of photos of all the fixed landmarks so that I can sit down with them & the film & try to get a clue as to where they did film from.

I took a few "framing shots" in the hope that at least we'd be able to see where they were filming by seeing how far they were from each headland.

As I was walking back along the beach towards the car park, I took another look at one section of the dunes that looked particularly hopeful. "But no," I thought, "it wouldn't be the same after 50 years." So as if to help convince me, what should happen but a black dog came running towards me!

"Oh, I'd always hoped there would be dogs"

The online map site at offers some very good maps of the area and also some very good Aerial Photos of the beach & dunes.

Then I took another diversion on the way home, to visit Shere near Guildford. That's the village seen through the camera obscure in AMOLAD (hence my having a copy of the video). Phil Hite had already taken a nice lot of photos but I wanted to see it all for myself.

It's well worth the trip, it's a lovely village.

The Volunteer Fire Brigade (V.F.B.) fire house. The spire (bell tower) is seen through the Camera Obscura   The view down Middle Street to where we saw "Sally Allgood getting dated up"

I took a few more pictures & was trying to work out where they must have filmed from. I think it must have been a special tower that they put up as there aren't any buildings in the place I think they'd have to have been.

Looking up to where the camera must have been

From the volunteer fire house, going along Middle Street towards Upper Street and the main Guildford to Dorking road, there's "The Lucky Duck" restaurant/cafe, then the shop where Sally Allgood was getting dated up, then a wooden building that I think is the village hall. It's dated 1911.

The other nice surprise was that if you turn left along Upper Street there's an amazing wooden footbridge over the road. It's dated 1914 and is all carved. I only noticed it as I drove out of the village and I'd used up all my film by then. But it's a shame that couldn't make it into AMOLAD.

So I finally got home and saw that the odometer said I'd travelled 470 miles over the weekend. That's further than I went to see one film when I saw GTE in Much Wenlock. But this one did include the diversions to Saunton Sands and Shere. A great weekend.

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