3 April 2011

SAPPHIRE (Dir. Basil Dearden, 1959, UK) - Closures and Ruptures

Here are some of shots from the closing sequence to Basil Dearden's 1959 film Sapphire. The film explores ethnic tensions in 1950s London. I'm not so sure how well it deals with race relations with some of the politics and representations having dated somewhat yet I found it so strange that it was a film directed by Basil Dearden of all film makers. Nevertheless, Sapphire is one of those British films that offers a lot to talk about and argue over especially as the film was made just after the 1958 Notting Hill Riots.

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Here are a few links on the film:




  1. Why did you think it was strange that Basil Dearden would direct Sapphire? It was really a trio of filmmakers with producer Michael Relph and writer Janet Green. They were also responsible for Victim (1961), the famous film about the persecution of gay men and Life for Ruth (1964), about a parent whose religious beliefs prevent doctors giving blood to a sick child. These were 'social problem films', a major genre in British Cinema and one with which Dearden had long been associated since his Ealing days. I particularly like Frieda (1947), German refugee wife in the UK, The Ship That Died of Shame (1955) ex-services personnel mixed up in smuggling and Violent Playground (1958), juvenile delinquency in Liverpool. Dearden was an important UK director who died in an accident aged only 60 (note the 'only 60'!) in 1971.

  2. I think what I was getting at was the fact Basil Dearden and similar British film makers like him have been much maligned and misread but only now are we starting to discover how ideologically interesting they were. Of course, the critical interest in Dearden in the shape of a series of films released by Criterion in America seems to suggest we don't really appreciate our own film makers.

  3. So, did you see this on a Criterion DVD, Omar? Is there any interesting 'extra' material on the discs? I think all my Dearden stuff is on VHS, but I can copy if you are interested in anything specific.