Film ID:
YFA 449

T 'BATLEY FAUST

1979

Visitor Tabs

Description

This is a humorous, animated film about a mean-spirited industrial tycoon who sells his soul to the Devil in exchange for his lost youth.  It is a version of the Faust legend set in Batley, Yorkshire.  The film was made by Tony Hall and others at Leeds University and was also based on a story by William Beaumont, a local writer now deceased.     

The film opens with a hand drawing on a blank piece of paper followed by title and credits: 

‘T 'Batley Faust’,  ‘From a Poem by William Beaumont © Barbara Beaumont’  ‘With the voices of Peter J Connor, Pete Waddington, Graeme Miller, John Davies, Ron Blass, and with the help of John Murray, Alana Haigh, Chris Jowett.  Executive Producer  Martin Bonham  Producer Trevor Faulkner  Workshop Theatre, University of Leeds’  ‘Character graphics Graeme Miller Director Tony Hall’   ‘Batley, 1928’ 

The story begins with bags being loaded from a line of horse drawn wagons onto a long truck.  This truck then joins a line of similar trucks which speed through an industrial landscape.  As they drive past, the trucks offload their contents into a factory through a large mouth.  (The factory has the form a face.)  The industrial process is shown through a series of childlike abstract forms before another mouth regurgitates the end product, in the form of large balls, onto more trucks. 

Next the factory boss is looking through a window cursing the ‘idle buggers.’  He then passes by a long line of comically shaped servants each saying, ‘Goodnight Mr Speight’.  Getting into his chauffeur driven limousine, he heads home whilst delivering a seemingly random diatribe against his workers interspersed with orders to the driver.  He arrives at a huge mansion, enters, and walks along a corridor lined with piles of money and gold.  A narrator comments that he never invites anyone in. 

He stops at a telescope and searches frantically for Sarah, the object of his desires, who he spots holding a screaming child.  The lens then fractures with the words, ‘You’ve past it’.  He exclaims, ‘I want it back, thou take my soul, I want my youth back!’  As he gets more and more worked up, storm clouds darken the sky, create thunder and lightning, and finally a large devil figure appears before Speight. 

In answer to Speight’s question, ‘What does thou want?’  the Devil, with a thick Yorkshire accent, replies, ‘Thy soul.’  Speight states that, ‘I’ll not give owt for nowt’, to which the devil responds, ‘I’ll give you your youth back, you daft bugger.  I’ll make you 30 years younger’.  And as for Speight’s wealth, ‘I’ve no use for that’. 

Speight signs a piece of paper, and after which, the Devil flies over Batley to the tune of the Bladen Races.  As he flies over the town clock it begins to turn backwards.  This is true for everything else he flies over including the sun, a train, and men walking down steps.  He then tears up a war memorial which is replaced with gravestones and a banner declaring, ‘Mafeking Relieved!’  Next Speight’s mansion is replaced by rows of back-to-back houses, and as an old man becomes a younger man, a ring flies off a finger, false teeth fly, and buildings come and go as tornadoes ravage the town.   

Finally the town clock goes back to normal, and Speight is seen as a young man.  He wanders through the town in an agitated state until he finds Sarah, as a baby in a pram!  He bursts out screaming in anguish, and the film ends.