Film Screening: The Nine Muses

23 Mar 2016

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England, United Kingdom


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Structured as an allegorical fable and loosely inspired by existential science fiction, The Nine Muses is a stylised, unusual and idiosyncratic retelling of the history of mass migration to post-war Britain through the suggestive lens of Homer’s epic poem, The Odyssey.


Divided into nine overlapping musical chapters and mixing a vast array of archival material, The Nine Muses is a modern recasting of Homer’s epic as a tone poem about journeys, migration, memory and the power of elegy.


The film deploys the ‘voices’ of a remarkable range of period and contemporary actors reading classical texts by Nietzsche, Dante, Shakespeare or Beckett, from John Barrymore to Richard Burton, Dermot Crowley, or Teresa Gallagher among others. The Nine Muses also offers a dizzying range of musical performances from Paul Robeson, Leontyne Price and India’s Gundecha Brothers, with a range of music by Arvo Pärt, Wagner as well as Schubert’s stunning Winterreise.

The film will be introduced by Isabel Stevens. Stevens is a writer and editor. She works at the film magazine Sight & Sound and contributes articles on film, photography and design to a number of publications, including The Guardian, Frieze, Aperture, World of Interiors, Source and Icon.

John Akomfrah is an artist and film-maker whose documentaries and feature films have won critical acclaim in Britain, Europe, North America. A prolific director, he began making films in the early 1980s as part of the Black Audio Film Collective, which addressed the lack of images representing Black British identity. He was awarded the prestigious European Cultural Foundation Laureate in November, 2011.

‘meditative, formal beauty…Akomfrah’s The Nine Muses… wraps the viewer in literature, music and archive footage, summoning up a mood rather than a story that reflects on the immigrant experience and the violence of displacement with a majestic grace.’ -Jason Solomons, THE OBSERVER

UK | 2010 | 92 mins

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