There’s always been a strong drive in British film making around communities and traditions. This most-frequently revolves around the loss of jobs and traditional industries. However, films such as Brassed Off also highlight that there is much more at stake than merely socio-economic considerations. In Jamie Chambers’ Blackbird, a small Scottish village not only provides the backdrop for the story but also its heartbeat.
Ruadhan (Andrew Rothney) is a lonely and sensitive spirit who spends his time rambling around the village collecting oddities and living in a marooned houseboat. He’s an aspiring young bard who’s determined to keep the local musical traditions alive despite the aging local singers gradually dying off. When his childhood friend Amy (Scarlett Mack) returns from university, she struggles to adjust to rural life. As they form a tentative relationship, her mother, and her business, become the focus of Ruadhan’s anger.
Blackbird is an ode to a dying culture but it’s also an optimistic film about the future. Featuring legendary traditional performers Margaret Bennett and Sheila Stewart, Chambers has crafted a film which feels both authentic and frayed. There are strong believable performances, and whilst Ruadhan’s anger maybe misdirected, it represents the fears and anxieties of many. Blackbird is a subdued, poetic and beautifully shot love letter to the classic storytelling traditions.
Blackbird is released on DVD by Verve Pictures on Monday.