OEITH #119 A Once and Future King
In this, our final episode, we issue a very loud SPOILER ALERT as we unearth an ancient English national treasure, the film Penda's Fen (directed by Alan Clarke, 1974), exploring: the current relevance of Penda's Fen; the film as an initiation; its provenance; the problem of its Englishness; Pinvin and the Malvern Hills; William Langland and Edward Elgar; The Dream of Gerontius; Stephen's ignorance of his own sexuality; his notions of good and bad; the character of Arne and his counter-cultural views; Stephen's dream of demons and angels; the role of Manicheanism in the film; a possibly similar incident in the life of Carl Jung; good and evil as the products of personal participation rather than binary absolutes; the ceaseless battle between darkness and light; Stephen's visitation from a demon as an indication of deeper levels to his personality; impacts of Stephen's insights into himself; the beginnings of a new persona; "Pinvin" versus "Pinfin"; an encounter with an angel as the realisation of the possibility of Grace; "Pendefen"; the resurgence of the demon; a vision of the celebration of atrocity; Stephen realises he is not alone: insights into his father and Arne; messages in the landscape and the discovery of "Penda's Fen"; descent into the underworld: Stephen's meeting with Elgar; the humanity of genius and the longing of the dead for manifestation; the revelation of Stephen's origins; his acceptance of who he really is; Joan of Arc as a pagan worshipping an ancient god of death and resurrection; the sacrifice of humanity in the modern age; Stephen's father: "a self and a non-self"; Penda, the last pagan King in England; the demonization of Penda versus the more likely reality of his kingdom; Martin Wall on the magical potential of history; the implicit rather than explicit depiction of magick in the film; Stephen's rendition of Gerontius as a magical evocation; its magical result: a message and a vocation; the final scene as a temptation and a magical attack; the manifestation of King Penda and his mission for Stephen; the question of where we should direct our magick; a valediction.
Matthew Harle & James Machin, eds. (2019). Of Mud & Flame: The Penda's Fen Sourcebook. London: Strange Attractor.
C.G. Jung (1967). Memories, Dreams, Reflections. London: Fontana.
Martin Wall (2019). The Magical History of Britain. Stroud: Amberley.