The witch rarely gets to go to premieres of any kind, so the UK premiere of The Butterfly Tattoo made a welcome change. It was on last night at Cornerhouse in Manchester, as part of a short film festival, and whereas it wasn’t full, it was very busy. They moved the screening to cinema one, which I assume was to accommodate more people.
The film? It was good. Very good. I’d heard it was very good, and then I read a review somewhere which claimed it wasn’t, particularly. So we went with open minds, and Daughter was warned that it wouldn’t end happily. The script follows Philip Pullman’s book pretty closely, so you do get the bad end at the beginning, so to speak.
It’s Romeo and Juliet, really. Some very intense love when boy meets girl, and then lots of confusion as they lose touch. Lots of searching, to a backdrop of someone else’s criminal behaviour, which eventually comes to have a bearing on the lives of Chris and Jenny as well.
You can tell that the film was filmed on a budget, but I wish more films were, if this is the result. There is nothing that would have been better for more money. I was particularly struck by one of the love scenes, which was blissfully quiet. In a more commercial film the couple would have found they were accompanied in the bedroom by a large orchestra. Here, there was nothing. No sound at all. Just as it should be.
The screening was followed by a Q&A with the director Phil Hawkins and some of the cast and crew, with more crew members in the audience. I was going to say that they tried to save on money by having many of them be both cast and crew, but that’s silly, as nobody got paid. I suppose it just shows how versatile they are. Who’d have thought that the drunk was actually the director himself?
The questions were along the lines of, well I don’t remember, because they were so technically knowledgeable that I didn’t even understand the questions, let alone the answers. I did get that they could only afford one camera, though. And it rained for the ball scene, and they had to hurry before the extras all died of hypothermia.
It was all done in five weeks, and I hope that cinemas all over the world will see the light and buy The Butterfly Tattoo. Philip Pullman was right to let someone young buy the rights to his book for peanuts. Sometimes enthusiasm will do more than years of experience and loads of finance. And perhaps I’m just put out that I didn’t act fast enough to buy a share or two in the film.