Play for Today: Robin Redbreast (1970)
October 21, 2022 5:58 PM - Season 1, Episode 9 - Subscribe

Robin Redbreast, Broadcast on Play for Today in 1970 on BBC1, is an early folk horror film. After a breakup, Norah (Anna Cropper) moves to a remote country cottage for a change of scenery, where she encounters some eccentric locals, a handsome, younger male gamekeeper, and a sense that she has their keen interest.

This was originally recorded on color video, but only B/W copies survive. A pioneering broadcast, this 80 minute movie is notable not only for being an early entry into the modern folk horror genre, it's also an early depiction of a sexually active single woman on TV.

Viewable for free on Tubi and Youtube.
posted by 2N2222 (3 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
This one is well worth the watch. Lots of the folk horror tropes are there, but mostly before most everyone else got there. And as such, play out in a surprisingly different way than one might expect.

Norah, as her cosmopolitan professional self of the time, is somewhat distraught at the failure of her relationship with an unknown man. She amusingly feels a little like an old maid of old, in her mid 30s, without the stability of romantic relationship or children. Her peers are perfectly frank about life, relationships, and sex, seem curious and generally supportive of Norah.

Her dealings with the young gamekeeper are interesting in that she's perfectly frank about the basis for the relationship. He's amusingly dull and awkward, but he serves a purpose.

The townsfolk are cryptic and obtuse. Mrs. Vigo, whom Norah hires to keep house, is gruff, nosy, and humorless, Mr. Fisher seems educated but speaks in ambiguities. Everything about the village and its residents feels slightly gaslight-y and aimed at keeping Norah from gaining her bearings, adding to the instability from her city life. When Norah finds herself pregnant, she seems surprisingly calm as to the circumstances, which are the result of some surprisingly curious circumstances.

The closing sequence works well, displaying how the practices haven't changed since days of old.
posted by 2N2222 at 2:51 PM on October 22, 2022

Sounds interesting. I could not find a link to see the film from here in the UK - would welcome any pointers. A search did reveal this playlist of Folk Horror Revival: Cult TV - includes stuff like The Owl Service from a similar era.
posted by rongorongo at 12:01 AM on October 24, 2022 [1 favorite]

I absolutely loved this one! I felt like it did a better job of integrating folk horror into a modern setting than most of its successors, which was a surprise.
posted by quatsch at 10:06 AM on November 28, 2022

« Older The Peripheral: Empathy Bonus...   |  Movie: Grabbers... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments