JWR Articles: Film/DVD - The Four Quartets (Featured performer: Ralph Fiennes) - July 30, 2023 id="543337086">

The Four Quartets

5 5
82 min.

Words speak louder than actions

Every so often, a film comes along that deifies description (which is a good thing for critics looking for something new).

In this instance, poet T.S. Eliot’s The Four Quartets (1941) is given a one-man performance by veteran Ralph Fiennes (directed by Sophie Fiennes) that is largely theatrical but also infused with enough cinematography to warrant a film rather than theatrical review.

For veterans and newcomers alike to Eliot’s work, it’s well worth a look both for the poetic content and Fiennes’ superlative delivery.

Burton Norton

Being barefoot only adds to Fiennes’ authenticity as surrogate poet.

Indeed, time is only present; humankind (especially in 2023) “cannot bear very much reality”.

Happily, “there is only the dance”.

An outdoor excursion is visually welcome.

Apparently, time conquers none.

East Cocker

Hmm, “flesh, fur and feces”.

Music of the weak pipe and a wee drum.

The wisdom of old men may lead to humility.

Nature surprises: can any of us say “climate change”?

Growing terror: what if there is nothing to think about?

The Dry Salvages

Morning watches are de rigour in Ukraine for months now.

“Whem time stops and is never ending; And the ground swell, that is and was from the beginning, Clangs the bell”.

Fiennes’ declamations ring the bell with truth, understanding and passion

Little Gidding

The final stanza is a mix:

The apparent power of prayer:

“You are here to kneel where prayer has been valid. And prayer is more than an order of words. The conscious occupation of the praying mind, or the sound of the voice praying.”

Fiennes manages to deliver the author’s messages on both the sides of the biblical fence, leaving listeners to unravel what Eliot really meant for themselves.

Do take a viewing (alongside a “script” that is available in the public domain), marvel at the actor’s largely understated delivery and revel in the cinematographic interludes. It’s a unique, artistic experience. JWR

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Featured performer - Ralph Fiennes
Poet - T.S. Eliot