Film ID: YFA 4164 Video of YFA 4164 The Devil God 1974 THE DEVIL GOD 1974 Visitor TabsDescription This film is a piece of fictional drama made by the Leeds cine group Mercury Movie Makers, directed by Alan Sidi, and distributed with help from the Yorkshire Arts Association. The films boasts a spectacular pyrotechnic display during the climactic sequence. The opening shots in this film show several film camera's being adjusted and moved Title - Mercury Movies. A lens is changed on another film camera. Title - A Group 16 film At night, a white Mercedes is perused by a white triumph through various urban streets in Leeds. A rock soundtrack builds as the cutting between the two cars gets progressively faster. Title - The Devil God. An exterior shot shows a row terraced housing, and on the soundtrack, a radio exert contains a snippet from Alan Freedman's Saturday show, which is broadcast from BBC London. In a bare kitchen decorated with only nude pictures of women, two working class men sit at a table. Mick, wearing a flat cap plays cards with an erotically themed deck, while Leftie eats a sandwich and reads the Daily Mirror. The two men discuss a news article which relates to an art exhibition taking part in Ryestead; one of the statues on display is a cursed piece of priceless art. They plot to steal the statue. Cutting to another house - this time far more opulently styled - David, a more debonair character, smokes a cigar as he reads the same article in the Sunday Times. His wife voices her fears concerning his intentions to also steal the cursed artefact. In the final shot of this sequence, David pulls a handgun from a draw. The opening shot in this sequence shows an exterior shot of the Ryestead museum. Mick and Leftie arrive, and manage to gain access by climbing through an open window. The filmmaker then cuts to show David entering the 'Dynasty Exhibit', where he finds the cursed devil statue, and bypasses the alarmed glass. Spooked by the arrival of Mick and Leftie, David hides in the shadows. Mick and Leftie grab the statue, but before they can make their escapes, David appears with a handgun. He is then hit on the head by a security guard, enabling Mick and Leftie to make their getaway. Mick and Leftie rush to their Triumph, followed closely by David whose wife waits in a Mercedes. A car chase ensues across floodlit stretches of motorway. Mick's view of the road is then blocked by an image of the cursed statue, which causes them to drive off a cliff, and the resulting impact creates a massive explosion. David arrives at the scene moments later and rushes down to retrieve the still intact statue, but just feet away he suffers a heart attack and collapses. The final shots shows David's wife sobbing over his unconscious body, and her early premonitions of an unfortunate event occurring is eerily replayed using voice over. Credits - Cast: Mick - Cecil McNaul, Leftie - Arthur Mackman, David - Bernard Skibben, Chris - Fiona Sidi, Nightwatchman - Vic Martini. Production: Camera - Ken Leckenby, Sound - Peter Hendry, Lighting - Reg White, Continuity - Mable Mackman, Second Camera - Myer Gorwits, Unit - Keith Overend & John Murray, Edited and Directed by Alan Sidi. Car crash staged by - Action Incorporated, Dummies donated by - Aleandre, Cine-Sync - Sound transfers. Title - A Group 16 production. Distributed with the assistance of the Yorkshire Arts Association. Context Although this film is clearly a collaborative effort of the Leeds Mercury Movie Makers, and beyond, it has all the hallmarks of being the brainchild of Leeds amateur filmmaker, and all round inventor, Alan Sidi. Alan was a member of Mercury Movie Makers, of which more can be read in the Context for A Vision Fulfilled (1982). The credit for Group 16 is a reference to the fact that the club specialised in using 16 mm film (as opposed to 8 mm). The group made many fine films, and many of them can be seen on the YFA website. As can be seen, this is a very ambitious film for amateur filmmakers to make, and there are many credits. Among those credited is Reg White, a prominent member of MMM who donated the films, and who appeared on the recent Melvyn Bragg TV series, Reel History of Britain. Keith Overend, Ken Leckenby and John Murray were all filmmakers in their own right who have donated sizeable collections of films to the YFA. For more on the latter two see the Contexts for Out and About (1974) and Huddersfield International Club Opening Night (1968) respectively. The dates for making the film can be determined by the date of the Daily Mail being read by one of the working class would-be thieves, with the headline “Spy Brothers Breakout”. This refers to the two self-proclaimed British Government spies, brothers Kenneth and Keith Littlejohn, escaping from a top-security prison in Ireland where they were serving sentences for armed robbery, on 11th March 1974. Whilst the Yorkshire Post carried an article on the filming of the crash scene on 11th October 1974. As well as this film, MMM also made a documentary film on the making of the crash scene in The Devil God, called Crash Spectacular. The Context for this film provides more information on the making of The Devil God. Members of both of the Leeds cine clubs made several comedy spoof films during the 1970s that can be related to commercial films or TV programmes of the time. This one might be classed as a comedy thriller, using the traditional tropes of both the working class robbery and the more refined and sophisticated thief – reminiscent of David Niven in Casino Royale. Bringing the two together is not altogether different to the Italian Job, with Michael Caine and Noel Coward as the working class and upper class thieves respectively. The recent movie Flypaper has a similar plot of two lots of thieves arriving to steal from the same bank at the same time. Knowing Alan Sidi, one wonders whether the unsophisticated plot was simply a way of him writing off his old car in glorious style! He was known as someone who liked his classic cars, and took pride in them. Alan was known for his sense of humour, as evidenced in several of his films, most notably in Too Many Cooks (1966), where he makes an appearance along with his wife and his two children, playing leading parts. One of them, Fiona, turns up again here, acting very capably well above her actual age, as Chris, the wife of the sophisticated thief Dave. The statue that is the object of the theft is probably also the result of Alan Sidi allowing his imagination to run free, bringing together all sorts of traditions in his usual comic way – it has a passing resemblance to the Devil as seen in the Codex Gigas (Giant Book, aka the Devil's Bible), crossed with Bugs Bunny. The dynasty, judging by the name, seems to allude to Chinese history. The nearest figure in Chinese culture resembling a god is the Shén, although here the closer connotation of spirit marks it out from the Old Testament portrayal of God that influences Christianity, Islam and Judaism. The Chinese equivalent of the Devil, mogwai, also differs significantly from the Christian conception; itself a rather dubious notion even in Christianity, see the Context for And so to Hell (1956). Statues of gods having curses aren’t that unusual, and neither are objects that are stolen becoming cursed – for a fairly obvious reason. One of the standout features of the film is the musical soundtrack which gives it a great atmosphere and drama. The odd piece out is the Arabian Dance from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite that accompanies the middle class couple in their home. The rest is all provided by Pink Floyd’s avant garde double album Ummugama, which came out in 1969. The use of this as a soundtrack may have been suggested by Keith Overend, who used Pink Floyd’s One of these Days (off the album Meddle) in one of his own films, This Horrid Place, also made in 1974. Whatever the source, it was surely inspirational in the way the driving rhythm of Set the controls for the heart of the sun perfectly matches the speeding cars, whilst A Saucerful of Secrets creates a spooky night time atmosphere. The two tracks, both from the live section of the album, have been blended together very cleverly in the film. In fact Set the controls for the heart of the sun is apt also as the lyrics – though barely audible in the film – have allusions to both China and to greed. The music for the crash comes from Sisyphus (a Richard Wright solo project), while the end is accompanied by the opening of The Grand Vizier's Garden Party (a Nick Mason solo project), with its allusions also to the east – both tracks from the studio set. Whoever suggested the soundtrack might have been influenced by Michelangelo Antonioni’s 1969 film on the counter-culture Zabriske Point, which used a modified version of Careful with that axe Eugene, another live track off Ummugama, titled Come in Number 51, Your Time Is Up, which also accompanies an explosive ending – again replayed from different angles and in slow motion. The voice of dj Fluff Freeman overheard on the radio, has a marginal connection too, as he attended Pink Floyd’s performance of Dark Side of the Moon before its release the previous year. The music on the radio sounds as if it could be Paul Rogers while he was still with the band Free. Re-watching the film in 2008, Reg White and Alan Sidi were as animated and as excited as when they first made it. And as well they might be, it shows the great delight that the amateur can have when let loose to indulge his or her imagination and use all of their talents.