Directed by: Ken Loach
Countries & Regions: United Kingdom
Studio: British Film Institute
Length: 98 mins
Region: Region 2
Released: 21 June 2010
Cat No: BFIVD844
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Ken Loach directs this adventure film based on the children’s novel by Leon Garfield. Set in mid-18th century Yorkshire, the film tells... Read More
Ken Loach is one of the more dependable figures in world cinema, seldom straying from the politically engaged social realism with which he is synonymous. The period drama Black Jack is therefore something of an oddity in his career. Typical neither of its director nor its genre, it is an uncharacteristic film, but it’s a thoroughly worthwhile one nonetheless.
Black Jack himself is a rascally French sailor (Jean Franval), who first cheats death, then press-gangs Tolly, a young apprentice, into helping him escape; the two are soon embroiled in a series of picaresque adventures. Along the way, they meet Belle, a young girl escaped from the asylum. When she is reclaimed by the doctors, her friends decide upon rescue.
What’s interesting is how much Loach stamps his mark on proceedings. There are characteristically naturalistic performances and a greater emphasis on social class than you get with, say, Merchant-Ivory. Best of all though is Chris Menges’ sumptuous photography, which is absolutely comparable to Barry Lyndon.