Tuesday, May 7, 2024

Time of the Heathen (1961)

A drifter wanders the country side with his bible. When he sees the rape and murder of a black woman he flees with woman's son. Framed for the murder the pair has to run to stay alive.

Restored 1961 drama is a kick in the pants. Set in the years following the end of World War II the film has a lot to say about guilt, humanity and small town life. It's a film with a lot going on with in a simple narrative. 

What struck me about the film is that it feels very much like the work of George Romero. How the film is shot is very close to the way NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, THE AMUSEMENT PARK or the films made in between were shot. There is an unease in the framing of images and shot choice that make me wonder if Romero saw this film and learned from it.

While there is a formalness to some of the proceedings, the dialog feels less than natural, the film never stops feeling real. Indeed, in someways the film more real than real films since it touches some part of the place where we remember things.

I was moved. Honestly I agreed to  cover the film it was more with the hope of just using it for a filler. Instead I found a haunting film whose discovery is one of the great cinematic surprises of the year.

This is a film that any lover of cinema should track down.


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