Presented by the Melbourne Cinémathèque & ACMI
The End of Arthur's Marriage
Wednesday 23 September 2020
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A woman sends her husband off with an envelope of money to buy their first house, but things do not go to plan.
Entrusted with an envelope full of cash — a loan from his middle-class parents-in-law — Arthur sets off on foot with his daughter Emmy to put a deposit down on their first house. When they arrive at the ramshackle house, he realises buying property isn’t easy for a man in his position and he has to decide between conformity or throwing it all away.
We begin this program of early Ken Loach works with what is sometimes described as the most un-Loachian film in his decades-long career. Loach himself once said that he was the perhaps the wrong director for this film which uncharacteristically mixes comedy, musical numbers and swinging sixties boppers. But underneath that surface-level frivolity is a scathing rebuke of middle-class listlessness, conformity and decadent consumerism.
Ten years earlier, television plays would have been performed and broadcast live in the studio. The End of Arthur’s Marriage marks a significant shift away from this or The Wednesday Play with the use of 16mm film and a script (written by the poet Christopher Logue) which moves most of the action outdoors. This adds spontaneity and a feeling that almost anything can happen – and almost anything does.
– Reece Goodwin, Curator (TV & Special Events)