'The past is a foreign country: they do things
The Go-Between, which was directed by Joseph
Losey, was released in 1970. It was based on the novel of the
same name by L.P.Hartley which first appeared in 1953. John Betjeman regarded The
Go-Between as Hartley's best novel. The screenplay
was written by Harold Pinter and the (melodramatic)
music was composed by Michael Legrand.
Julie Christie as
In the novel, the elderly Leo Colston discovers a diary from the year 1900 in which is recorded the
events of a summer he spent as a guest of the Maudsley
family at Brandham Hall in
Norfolk. During that summer, he stays with his school
friend Marcus but, when Marcus develops measles, he is
left to entertain himself and becomes embroiled in a
tryst between Marcus' elder sister Marian and a local
farmer called Ted Burgess.
At first, Leo
finds it difficult to fit in at Brandham Hall but he is
soon befriended by Marian and agrees to carry messages
for her. The twelve year old is unaware of the true
purpose of the messages - but he eventually realises and
feels guilty for betraying Lord Trimingham -
Marian's fiancée - played by Edward Fox.
The action takes place in the sizzling heat of a
Norfolk summer and the film, although slow-paced,
crackles with sexual energy. The climax of the story
involves Mrs Maudsley extracting the truth from Leo and
dragging him to Ted's farm where they discover the
lovers having sex. Ted later commits suicide and the
events of the summer have a profound effect on the rest
of Leo's life - leaving him unable to form emotional
Running through the novel are are number of
leitmotifs including signs of the Zodiac (hence Leo),
poison e.g. belladonna (deadly nightshade) and the colour green - perhaps
indicating Leo's naivety.
The Go Between is long overdue for a remake!
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