rolling hills of the
Welsh Border Country
at the turn of the century
make an outstanding
backdrop for an evocative
tale of an unsettled
marriage between a
vicars daughter and a
farm-worker, and the
possessiveness of their
THE DEATH OF A VICAR and former missionary leaves his daughter Mary (Gemma
Jones, Bridget Jones' Diary, Duchess of Duke
Street) homeless and alone. Salvation comes in the form of rough-and-ready
farm-worker Amos Jones (Bob Peck, Edge of Darkness, Jurassic Park),
who wants to marry her. On The Black Hill follows their uneasy relationship
through their social differences, the birth of their children, the antagonism
of neighbour Tom Watkins (Eric Wynn) and the effects of the war.
'Vision', the farmhouse in which they live on The Black Hill is rented from
Colonel Bickerton (James Bree), whose wife (Antonia Pemberton) has befriended
Mary. It is there that their inseparable twin sons Benjamin and Lewis (played
by brothers Mike and Robert Gwilym) are born followed later by a daughter,
Rebecca (Lynn Gardner).
Beautifully shot and well acted, On The Black Hill was directed by Andrew
Grieve, who also wrote the screenplay from the original novel by Bruce Chatwin.
It is a story of the life of one family and the influ-ence they have on each
other and it has been described as "the
British Jean de Florette". It was produced by Jennifer Howarth and
the evocative original music is by Robert Lockhart.
A falling-out with Tom Watkins turns into a nasty vendetta and Amos begins to
blame Mary for all his frustrations and disappointments including the
estrangement of Rebecca. Resentments, jealousies and possessiveness begin to
tear apart the already troubled family but On The Black Hill centres
around the extraordinary bond between the twin brothers, following the history
of the family over the course of the 20th Century through eighty years
of romance, war and loss.
Winner of the Golden Seashell for Best Film at the 1988 San Sebastian International
Film Festival, On The Black Hill features stunning photo-graphy of the
Welsh-English border and was shot in only seven weeks on a tight budget. Locals
and livestock were recruited to the film, most of the props were borrowed, and
even the local WI was enlisted to create knitting patterns of the correct period.
This firmly locates the film in its region, giving it a strong sense of identity
for the big-screen in 1987 from Bruce Chatwin's award-winning novel by writer/director
Andrew Grieve, On The Black Hill
makes its DVD premiere on 31 March (2008) courtesy of Film First
at an RRP of £12.99.
"An outstanding British Film that has never been given its due"
"A film of integrity, insight and beauty" The Observer
This much-anticipated DVD includes an introductory booklet written by writer/director
Andrew Grieves. DVD extras include Pinny Grylls' touching short film Peter
and Ben, a profound and moving tale of friendship between the reclusive
Peter and his sheep Ben, filmed in 2007 in the same location as On The Black