Film (1981). Memorial Films/National Film Finance Corporation/EMI. Dir David Gladwell, starring Julie Christie, Christopher Guard, Leonie Mellinger, Debbie Hutchings. Screenplay Kerry Crabbe, Gladwell, based on The Memoirs of a Survivor (1974) by Doris LESSING. 115 mins. Colour.
   Amid NEAR FUTURE scenes of urban squalor in Western London a middle-aged woman (Christie) observes (mostly peering round a lace curtain) increasing dereliction and social breakdown in the wake of some unexplained catastrophe. She sometimes seems to penetrate a wall at which she often stares, finding herself invisible amid the life of a late-Victorian family in comfortable circumstances. Given a teenage girl (Mellinger) to care for in the real world, she watches her mature into the efficient partner and mistress of an idealistic young man who runs a community centre for abandoned children. When urban life becomes almost intolerable, she leads these people through the wall into the ALTERNATE WORLD of her dreaming. In the source novel, the inner life of the protagonist, permeated by Sufistic meditation, is central, but here, through a savage reductionism, its visual equivalent is given by mere cameos of stable but emotionally disabling Victorian life. Christie's fine performance as the almost unspeaking observer is, through no fault of hers, deeply uncinematic.

Science Fiction and Fantasy Encyclopedia. . 2011.

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