Yet More from the Eighties

Red Riding: 1980
Red Riding: 1980

Martin writes here about the second in Channel 4’s Red Riding series, 1980. He says pretty much what I would have said about it (except of course that the star’s name is Considine). I’d add, though, that where Martin says it was more conventional than its predecessor, 1974, he’s approaching what I found most interesting about the piece: that everything you’d expect of a story about an investigation into police corruption pretty much winds up happening, but that somehow it doesn’t seem to matter. I pondered whether this was a victory of style over substance – the drama’s grittiness and bleak determinism persuading the viewer that what they were watching was cleverer than it was – but I’m not sure that would be fair. It might be, perhaps, that by presenting the well-worn cliches in a more rigorous context than those in which they are usually deployed, 1980 succeeded in wringing something more of them.

Or it might have been a victory of style over substance. Watch it and decide for yourself.

2 thoughts on “Yet More from the Eighties

  1. (except of course that the star’s name is Considine).

    Oops. And that is a bloody awful IMDB photo!

    I think would I am flailing towards saying is that the elements are conventional but the treatment is unconventional, precisely because of its rigour. It is interesting to read the various op-eds pointing out the fact that Peace is making this up (two in the Grauniad this week). Well, yes but it certainly applies a real world sensibility to its fictional premise.

    I am looking forward to Thursday. 1984 is the year I moved to Bradford, not far from the house where I believe Sutcliffe’s wife still lived. I was too young to be aware of much then but the Red Riding films evokes a sense Yorkshire which really resonates.

  2. I saw the op-ed from the retired West Yorkshire officer, and found it interesting, too – because, as you say, attacking the films as inaccurate misses the point somewhat. I remember Niall tried to watch Deadwood and couldn’t because he didn’t believe it was really ‘how the West was’, and I had a similar reaction: that a show about an historical moment can be rigorous without being historically correct.

    The psychological consistency of the characters is surely what makes the films interesting in their use of cliche. That is, these are stock situations but the characters properly inhabit them. I can’t really comment about the evocation of Yorkshire, but if it has anything like the persuasiveness of the characterisation then I can see why you find it so compelling.

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