Bernard G Mills


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Rear Window

I wrote the following text for my part in the exhibition:

Window on the World

Many years ago I learned that the eye, when looking at a

photographic image, is attracted to the brightest part—the

illuminated window or the naked light bulb. So, when

taking or printing a photograph, to avoid the eye being

distracted from the main subject or to encourage the

viewer to see particular aspects, this phenomenon should

be considered.

As it is for the moth, so also for humans—light attracts.

The darkened auditorium and the illuminated screen has

been one of the greatest attractions of the twentieth century. Even now, when the house lights go down and the illuminated proscenium arch at the Duke of York’s Picture House in Brighton indicates the start of the projected programme, I experience a sense of excitement, enjoyment and anticipation.

For me, cinema going falls into two separate categories.

Going to the pictures is one experience and the other is

going to ‘watch a film’. An important element here is the

going—they are both events. The former is about a shared

experience—either shared with friends or family or even

with the audience as a whole and it may well include

popcorn, ice cream, Kia-Ora and the ubiquitous Cola (not to mention the noise of sweet wrappers and bags of goodness knows what). The latter is concerned with (for want of a better term) film appreciation; to experience ‘Film’—the Film being (as Jean-Luc Godard described it) as what happens between the screen and the viewer.

Since my childhood and my attendance as an ABC Minor

at the Saturday Morning Pictures at the ABC Capitol

in Winchmore Hill (6d (2.5p) entry fee), I have had a

relationship to the cinematic. In those days, the thrill of

the chase with Roy Rogers, the flights of fancy with Buster

Crabbe as Flash Gordon, cartoons and children’s feature

films that whetted my appetite for my more mature years.

Later childhood saw me going to the pictures once a week

(or more during the school holidays) with a choice of

cinemas—The Capitol in Winchmore Hill, the Queens and

the Gaumont in Palmers Green, and even the Florida in

Enfield. New films every week: The Crimson Pirate (1952), Never Take No For an Answer (1953), Brigadoon 1954),

The Dam Busters and Davy Crockett (1955), Guys and Dolls

(1955), The Red Baloon, The Battle of the River Plate, The Forbidden Planet, Helen of Troy and The King and I (1956),

A PDF of the Rear Window Bochure can be downloaded here.

The Yangtse Incident (1957), The Vikings (1958), all great

fun, full of glamour, thrills and colour. Then there were

the supporting films—the B features; between 1953 and

1961, the serious, respectable, Edgar Lustgarten introduced Scotland Yard which showed a series of black and white reconstructions of ‘true crimes’.

In the 1960’s, thanks to Maidstone Art College and

Maidstone Film Society, I discovered the continental film

and world cinema: Antonioni, Bergman, Buñuel, Chabrol,

Demy, Fellini, Forman, Godard, Jancsó, Kurosawa, Menzel,

Polanski, Ray, Rohmer, Tati, Truffaut and Varda to name

but a few. Alongside these discoveries was the history

of the cinema: Berkeley, Carné, Chaplain, Gance, Griffith,

Hitchcock, Keaton, Lang, Marx Brothers, and Méliès (to

name but a few again).

And then there are—The Stars: Stéphane Audran, Brigitte

Bardot, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Marlon Brando, Louise

Brooks, Cary Grant, Audrey Hepburn, Katherine Hepburn,

Anna Karina, Grace Kelly, Marilyn Monroe, Paul Newman,

Mary Pickford, Gregory Peck and Monica Vitti (to name but

a few).

In my childhood I had glimpsed the glamour of the silver

screen and in the ‘60s I discovered the world (at least, as

portrayed on screen). Now, in my sixties, I still love movies. I still watch new movies and I still discover old movies (Pandora’s Box with Louise Brookes springs to mind). I can watch them again and again (though mostly on DVD now) and still there are new facets to catch and understand—perhaps differently.

It was during the 1960s that I became interested in the

possibility of making films. I started at art college with a

Bolex H16. The first ‘feature film’ in which I was involved

(as an actor playing the part of the Clocksprings Kid) was

The Kid Shot Bowel. Then I tried animation. I went on to

study film animation at post-graduate level at Birmingham

Art College and ran the Animation Unit at Birmingham

Polytechnic for four years. I started to record the annual

‘egg rolling’ year after year on 8mm then on Super 8. I was

never really happy with the image quality of either 8mm or

Super 8 or, indeed, with video until the advent of HD.

At last, I have once more ventured into the world of moving image with Title Roll (2007) and Prelude (2010).

BGM November 2011

Rear Window at APEC Studios, 3 December 2011

Rear Window took place at APEC Studios as part of the Brighton’s Cinecity Festival 2011. Members of our studio decided to a make ‘responses to the idea of the cinematic, as both moving image and the visually spectacular’ by staging ‘an exhibition of video, painting, photography and performance both inside and outside the studios’.