The translation of great works of literature to the big screen has rarely been a smooth one. Shakespeare has probably turned in his grave more often than any, but there are very few ‘great’ texts which have remained unscathed. For Terence Davies the task of adapting Sunset Song was even more daunting. Lewis Grassic Gibson’s book is the first part of the Scots Quair trilogy and considered to be the most important Scottish novel of the 20th century.
Chris Guthrie (Agyness Deyn) grows up on a rural farm on the Kinraddie Estate in the north east of Scotland. The family’s life if overshadowed by her father (Peter Mullan), an overbearing and domineering patriarchal figure. His continuous conflict with her brother Will (Jack Greenlees) strains relations within the household, and when he emigrates Chris’ desire for independence seems further away than ever.
Sunset Song is beautifully shot with great central performances from both Deyn and Mullan. Davies waves his magic wand to embellish it with a sense of timelessness, instilling an aura of classical film making. Following on from her impressive turn in Electricity, Deyn is proving to be one of the most promising young British actors. Sunset Song is a poetic ode to rural life in pre-war Scotland, with shades of both light and dark.
Sunset Song is released on DVD and Blu-ray by Metrodome on Monday.