The Red Riding
Red Riding: The Year of Our Lord 1974,
Red Riding: The Year of Our Lord 1980 and
Red Riding: The Year of Our Lord 1983
This British import was actually a made as a television
miniseries across the pond. In the States it was cut up into the three
main parts and given theatrical release - both separately and as an
over five-hour marathon viewing experience.
Based on a series of four
acclaimed books by David Peace (a Red Riding: 1977 novel was not
filmed as part of the series), The Red Riding Trilogy tells the story
of two infamous criminal cases which took place in Yorkshire, England in the
1970s and 80s. Red Riding: 1974 is based on a series of child
murders in the region and the other two films are about the murderer who
became known as The Yorkshire Ripper.
However, the murders
themselves are not the central thrust of the films. Instead, much like
David Fincher's Zodiac, a somewhat similar look at the hunt for a
1970s serial killer, Red Riding is a pitch black look at how horrific
acts of violence come to effect a community, bringing to light much of the
ugliness, the sordidness, the corruption and the rot which is normally
hidden just out of sight. Also like Zodiac, the story of the
murders are told mostly through the policemen and journalists who travel to
the heart of darkness in an often futile attempt to combat evil.
1974 is a dark, moody and symbolic film noir,
1980 is more of a straight police procedural and 1983 is
tragic psychological drama. It is an interesting
stylistic choice that even though all three parts are based on interlocked
novels, have recurring characters and were written by the same screenwriter,
the three parts of the series are directed by different filmmakers in
different styles with different lead characters.
And while all three films
work as stand-alone tales, the true power of the story only comes completely
alive when all the chapters are watched together.
Red Riding: 1974 was
directed by Julian Jerrold (Becoming Jane) and follows a cocky crime
reporter (Andrew Garfield) who comes to Yorkshire to break the child murder
case, but becomes involved with the mother of one of the victims and
embroiled in the violent politics and legal system of the town.
Red Riding: 1980 was
directed by James Marsh (last year's Best Documentary Oscar nominee Man
on Wire) and looks at the latest detective to head the Ripper task force
(Paddy Considine). He searches for clues at the same time that other
policemen and local politicians endeavor to undermine his authority.
Red Riding: 1983 was
directed by Anand Tucker (Shopgirl) and brings the story as close to
completion as possible, tracking both a detective (David Morrissey) and a
lawyer (Mark Addy) who endeavor to find absolution by proving that the wrong
people have been jailed for the killings.
More than anything else,
these films are stinging exposes of the city of Yorkshire itself, suggesting
that the corruption and avarice and sheer incompetence in the town is simply
staggering. The entire city appears to be a viper's nest of bad cops,
shady businessmen, out-of-control thugs, fallen clergy and desperate women.
Red Riding is tense,
surprising and almost inevitably horribly cynical and resigned to the idea
of absolute power corrupting absolutely. The good guys are almost
inevitably punished while the bad guys rarely pay for their crimes and sins.
Not a horribly uplifting
message, yet it is undoubtedly much more often true than we would like.
I don't know how accurate
that the depiction of the times and crimes of Yorkshire are, but Red
Riding makes for a mostly very gripping saga. That said, watching
five hours straight through is a little much, Red Riding works better
as a mini-series in which you watch one episode each night.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2010 PopEntertainment.com.
All rights reserved. Posted: April 13, 2010.