(1973, GB, 86 min) Dir Adrian Fisher. Cast Eddie Mitchell, Sandra Gladstone, Tony Cousins.
The tale of young Alan Henry, who passes his time over the Christmas holidays in his boring seaside hometown of Yorrip by inventing saints, complete with illustrations of them being martyred. New Year’s Day he decides is the holy day of Saint Detrasta Melovian who was killed for not renouncing her faith in 1386 by having the top of her head sawn off in Bulgaria. Soon enough he finds himself accompanied by the forcibly trepanned imaginary saint on his walks along the beach where he goes to escape his quarrelling parents. This was Fisher’s first feature film after a tumultuous time with the BBC and the freedom of the big screen is palpable. It’s final image, of Alan back at school looking out of his classroom window at his Detrasta Melovian flying in slow circles over the building with Hovum’s Felestra swelling on the soundtrack, is surely one of the most ecstatic religious images produced in all of British cinema. A gentle and quietly confident debut from a director who would go on to prove himself an understated and underappreciated talent.