Film ID:
YFA 3296

ILLUSIVE CRIME

1976

Visitor Tabs

Description

Experimentally shot fiction film that exposes the artificiality of one couple's 'traditional' marriage and simultaneously attacks modern man's self-perpetuating complacent conformity and the government and media institutions that reinforce this homogeneous society by protecting those who respond to its conditioning and brutalizing those who do not.

Title: Yorkshire Arts Association
Typewriter text: 'CID Special Branch Report: We have reason to believe that certain persons including women have been conspiring to commit an offence. It also seems that they are, with some success, involving more people in the conspiracy and that some people are actually joining in of their own free will, though nobody has as yet actually committed a crime. We suggest that we be allowed to move against them individually, justifying our actions with the legal notion 'grounds for reasonable suspicion', as the crime itself may prove elusive and may even turn out not to be a crime if and when it is finally committed. But we are certain that many important and prominent people could be in great danger if this group is not nipped in the bud. For purposes of security and simplicity we will in all future correspondence refer to this matter as: 'THE ELUSIVE CRIME''
Returning from his office in the city, successful businessman John Larcher arrives at his comfortable, village home for lunch. After a moment's complaining about the unfair prospect of a steel worker's strike, John leaves to buy a bottle of wine to share with his wife, Linda. In his absence, Linda cuts herself, so John, having returned, dresses the wound and, warning his wife not to try to do anything herself, lest she 'make it worse,' leaves to fetch the couple's private doctor. Since the doctor is out, John drives into the city to buy proper bandages, but he is delayed receiving a stock tip from a friend. Not the obedient housewife her husband supposes, Linda, having already posited that 'societal existence determines individual consciousness, and not vice-versa,' expresses her political and philosophical sentiments over the telephone, telling the man on the other end of the line that the liberty touted by Western Democracy is actually the freedom to be oppressed. Almost immediately, her home is invaded by two policemen, who accuse her of 'fraternizing' with Irishmen, blacks, militants, Communists, workers and People and rape her into submission. When her clueless husband returns, he is scandalized, if not genuinely concerned, and it occurs to him that his wife might be hysterical. But when one of the police officers returns and informs him that, earlier in the day, his wife had been entertaining another man, John accuses Linda of having an affair and takes her upstairs to rape her himself.
In voiceover, Linda warns the audience, 'You have just been caught up in a world that doesn't exist. Or at least it does exist, but only on the back and at the expense of the real world beneath it. No one will believe that that real world exists unless people come together and say that it does, but they want to keep you apart. And when you're apart, you'll show that you're happy in your isolation, that you're happy in *their* world. At least if you're isolated, you're not dangerous, and if you become dangerous, you can be dealt with. Don't let yourself be drugged.'
Like the regimented lifestyles the characters lead, the format of the film itself consists of a repeating pattern of ten shots, the subjects and locations of which are fixed, regardless of whether the characters appear onscreen:
Shots 1-7 and 10 depict locations, often void of people, in and outside of the Larcher house.
Shot 8 is always an extreme close-up of the action in the scene, often focusing on the characters' hands.
Shot 9 is from Linda's point of view.
Although the mood is sometimes set by piano music, the diegetic sound is faithful to the camera's position in relation to the action of the characters, and much of the dialogue, which usually occurs off-screen or in the background of the shot, is consequently very quiet or obscure. A third person male narrator, who describes John's mundane actions and thoughts, is consistently loud and clear, as is Linda's inner monologue of anti-establishment philosophy.

Ending Titles (on typewriter):
The husband: James Woolley
Voices: Amanda Reiss, Andrew McCulloch, Colin Proctor
Assistance: Rosalind Buckton
Camera, sound, editing: Richard Woolley
Produced with the help of the Arts Council and Yorkshire Arts Association
A film by Richard Woolley
Although this film is consistently labelled, 'Illusive Crime,' the only text in the film itself that could be interpreted as a title reads, 'The Elusive Crime.'