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NEWS FROM NOWHERE

UK, 1978 (MIFF 1979)

Director: Alister Hallum

By the 1880's, William Morris had gained fame as a writer, poet, and designer, but his success drew him increasingly towards the ideas of socialism. For Morris the process of industrialisation brought an ugliness that killed the spirit; he dreamed of a classless, craftbased society which valued the dignity of labour and used art to create its millenium. At the same time, his friendship with the painter Dante Gabrielli Rossetti continued to exert its influence on him.

In the summer of 1880, Morris travelled up the Thames from London to the house in Kelmshott, above Oxford, which he and his wife shared in an increasingly uneasy menage-a-trois with Rossetti. The film is largely a re-creation of that passage upstream, the same journey on which Morris was to base his own 'News From Nowhere'. The book was a visionary romance; Morris used it to describe the rural, socialist Utopia that would revitalise his beloved crafts. The film follows Morris and his visionary self along the river, pausing to examine the past and dreaming with him of the future, reflecting on the perplexed sadness which Morris in his lifetime masked beneath his immense creative energy.

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