A Blast From The Past: A Trip Down Tartan Lane!

Hi Folks,

Just a short, but slightly surreal, update for you all today.

Any of you who viewed foreign-language films, either at the cinema or on VHS tapes back in the 1990’s, would probably have heard of a film distributor by the name of Metro Tartan.

They famously started-up in 1984, fouded by Hamish McAlpine, and released films under the Metro Tartan label for cinemas, and then as Tartan Films, Tartan Video and Tartan DVD on the relevant home viewing formats. They brought foreign-language films to a wider UK and US audience, including the works of Ingmar Bergman, John Woo,Werner Hezog, Krzysztof Kieslowski, Nanni Moretti, and many, many more. (Wikipedia has a list of all of their films, which you can access  here  for full information, including catalogue numbers.) They are also credited with introducing the UK to the whole Asia Extreme phenomenon, and created a DVD label with the same name, bringing the works of Takashi Miike and others to UK-shores. Alas, Tartan Films ran into financial troubles in June of 2008, and went into administration. Although resurrected as Palisades Tartan, it’s not quite the same label, though it still focusses predominantly on Asian-language movies.

But my reason for bringing this subject up, was because any of you who purchased one of their films on VHS tape, will probably remember they used to start their tapes with an amazing trailer reel, accompanied with one of the best pieces of instrumental music I’ve ever heard. The trailer reel showcased the following films:

  • Providence (1977, Alain Resnais)
  • The Fireman’s Ball (1967, Milos Forman)
  • Three Shorts By Hal Hartley (Various, Hal Hartley)
  • The Tune (1992, Bill Plympton)
  • Simple Men (1992, Hal Hartley)
  • Kwaidan (1964,Masaki Kobayashi)
  • Onibaba (1964, Kaneto Shindô)
  • The Ploughman’s Lunch (1983, Richard Eyre)
  • La Scorta (1993, Ricky Tognazzi)
  • Trouble In Mind (1985, Alan Rudolph)
  • Equinox (1992, Alan Rudolph)
  • The Red Squirrel (1993, Julio Medem)
  • In The Soup (1992, Alexandre Rockwell)
  • Cinema Paradiso: The Special Edition (1988, Giuseppe Tornatore)

Later versions included scenes from John Woo’s HARD-BOILED as well, but for the most part, the Reel stayed the same for many, many years. If you wanted to show people why World Cinema was not boring, this was the way to do it. Show them this, and you’d certainly peak their interest!

The trailer featured an amazingly beautiful and upbeat piece of instrumental music. For a long time, I never knew what it was, until I discovered the Trailer Reel on YouTube. Zimbabwean band The Bhundu Boys performed the piece, and it’s called “My Foolish Heart / Waerera”.

And this is what it looked like. (Thanks to YouTube user Stribbler for unearthing this gem!)

This is not only one of the best trailer’s ever made, in my view, but I love the music. The full-version can also be found on YouTube, but I attach it here, for your enjoyment. (Thanks to YouTube user ARoseGrowingOld for the track.)

Once you’ve seen and heard the trailer and song, you won’t forget it. This is just such a great combination of imagery and sound, and I miss seeing this on my Tartan DVD’s. It was a crying shame of being ommitted, but nonetheless, everyone who loves film should see and hear this at least once. And this is why I’m sharing it with you folks, my dear blog-readers!

I’ll be back, next month with an end-of-year round-up/Christmas List of unusual, offbeat, erotic or extreme titles worth purchasing or owning. For now though, it’s goodbye from me. See you back here shortly!

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A Blast From The Past: A Trip Down Tartan Lane!

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