Blu-Ray Review: Carla’s Song

Carla and George

Ken Loach is undoubtedly the most influential social issues filmmaker working in British cinema today. In his feature debut, Poor Cow, the Englishman tackled poverty. He has gone on to address a number of pressing topics including homelessness, labour rights, migration, unemployment and alcoholism. Another focus has been conflict, from the Spanish civil war to the Irish resistance. In Carla’s Song he trains his lens on the Contra War in Nicaragua.

In 1987, George (Robert Carlyle) works as a bus driver in Glasgow but his mouth keeps getting him in trouble. As is the case when he allows a young refugee, Carla (Oyanka Cabezas), to sneak onto his bus without paying a fare, only to be rumbled by an inspector. They begin a tentative friendship, although she is hesitant to speak to him at first. Their relationship takes them to her homeland, where she needs to come to terms with her past in order to move on.

Carla’s Song won’t be for everyone. Loach’s style of schoolmasterly storytelling can grate, as might George’s rather dubious pursuit of his prey. However, there is much to admire here. It’s a conflict and part of the world which gets very little coverage in Europe, but Carla’s story allows the viewer to witness a microcosm of a (then) countrywide issue. Despite language barriers, both leads are good and Carla’s Song gets its major political points across in the guise of a pretty decent romantic drama.

Limited edition special features:

  • High Definition remaster
  • Original stereo audio
  • Audio commentary with director Ken Loach and screenwriter Paul Laverty (2005)
  • An Extraordinary Thing (2021, 18 mins): producer Sally Hibbin recalls the challenges of filming in Nicaragua
  • Two Worlds Collide (2021, 9 mins): editor Jonathan Morris discusses working on an ambitious, international scale
  • Tuning in to Nicaragua (2021, 10 mins): composer George Fenton details his approach to scoring the film
  • Background to the Art (2021, 14 mins): art director Fergus Clegg on recreating the late-eighties setting of Carla’s Song
  • Sounds of Music (2021, 10 mins): sound recordist Ray Beckett discusses the technical aspects of Loach’s documentary style of filmmaking
  • Keeping Up Appearances (2021, 10 mins): script supervisor Susanna Lenton relates the complexities of shooting the film in sequence
  • Ten deleted scenes (12 mins)
  • Original theatrical trailer
  • Image gallery: publicity and promotional material
  • New and improved English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
  • Limited edition exclusive 36-page booklet with a new essay by Michael Pattison, Paul Laverty on Carla’s Song, an account of screening the film in Nicaragua, Ken Loach on recutting the film, an overview of contemporary critical responses, and film credits
  • UK premiere on Blu-ray
  • Limited edition of 3,000 copies

Carla’s Song is released on Blu-ray by Powerhouse Films as part of their Indicator series on 26 April.

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