Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Thomas Paine on film

I was privileged to be in the audience at the Dylan Thomas Centre when, shortly after its opening, Pembrokeshire's own Kenneth Griffith screened among other gems his interpretation of the life of Thomas Paine. Griffith grieved for Paine's lack of recognition in the two nations whose revolutions he had inspired (Paine was gaoled by the French, being freed only on the intervention of US ambassador Thomas Jefferson, and was buried uncelebrated in the States) but reserved his greatest scorn for the BBC, who had shown the production only once. Fortunately, it has escaped to VHS (why no transfer to DVD?) and there are YouTube links here.

Griffith did rather better than the late Lord Attenborough who promoted both a statue of Paine and an epic movie, for which he commissioned a script from Trevor Griffiths (no relation, as far as I know). The whole sorry story of why the film was not made in Attenborough's lifetime is laid out by Geoffrey Macnab here. Waste not, want not, Griffiths turned his screenplay into a book and also extracted a stage play from it.

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