Film ID:
YFA 5693

ZENITH

1973

Visitor Tabs

Description

This is one of several exceptional award winning films made over a seven year period by Bill Davison of Selby Cine Club.  Winner of Movie Maker’s Top Ten of 1973, the film is described as, “A study of a child molester, the action being seen from the subject’s viewpoint in fragmented flashbacks after his death.”  With an atmospheric background soundtrack, including Fleetwood Mac’s song ‘O Well, Part 2,' the film consists of short images cut together which form a dream like sequence that reflect the life and mental state of the subject of the film.  But the allusive nature in which the loose narrative unfolds lends the film to different readings.  Due to the subject matter of the film, it strongly divided critical opinion at the time.

The film begins in a wood with the camera closing in on a coffin that bears the name “Brian Harker.”  The rest of the film is shot from the point of view of the abuser.  He enters a room and sits down at a desk.  The phone rings.  He picks up the receiver of the phone and then puts it down, and then picks up a file, which appear to be case notes, which he opens but soon puts down again.  There is a brief shot of a crucifix in a church before returning to the man, clearly disturbed, putting his hand to his face.

People are walking along a crowded city centre street, filmed in slow motion.  The main character walks among them, looking down at his feet as he walks among the throng.  A billboard proclaims, “You can worship God in your home on Sunday . . . but you don’t!”  He continues walking along the streets of the city centre, past a shop selling “adult” magazines and books on sex, and past a newsagent, at times focusing on a young girl.  The film returns to the wood where the man holds his hand in front of his face.

There is a young girl who pushes a doll in a small pram down an alley between two rows of terraced houses.  Back to the man in the street, he passes by a mannequin in a shop window, and another shop window selling men’s underwear.  He goes down the steps into a public lavatory, looking up through the skylight through outstretched fingers.  Back on the streets he looks into the windows of more shops before the film switches to the front of a car driving along terraced streets and stopping next to the alley where the young girl is with her pram.  

Again, back on the street, he vies another young girl among the pedestrians.  In the alley way, the door to the car opens, and the girl gets into the passenger seat.  Following this, reflecting the frantic mental state of the man, there is a sequence of images cut together including crowded pavements, a wooded area, a couple engaged in sexual activity, and part of the man’s self-reflection.

The film cuts back to the girl, smiling while holding her doll, who gets into the car.  She sits in the passenger seat as he drives along a country road.  The man is then holding the girl’s hand as they walk through a wood; the scene is intercut with further explicit content.  

The girl lays motionless on the ground in the wood as the man picks up her doll before discarding it again.  He wanders to a church and enters, with his outstretched hand going towards a crucifix.  There is another montage including images of the man in bed, the girl in the wood holding her doll, the mannequin, damaged buildings, and pedestrians.

Back at the desk, a man flips through the case notes, and replaces the receiver.  The film finishes where it began, with the coffin in the wood.  The soundtrack plays an extract from, most likely, the satirical television programme, The Frost Report.  David Frost announces, in an ironic tone of voice, a report of a case in which the psychiatrist is quoted as saying, “The man has previously come before with offences which indicate a somewhat homosexual nature, these latest offences are evidence of a step in the right direction.” (There is canned laughter in the background.)