A tribute in film to the life of Wilfred Owen with readings by Ben Whishaw.
John Hansard Gallery is pleased to present ‘I was a dark star always’, a new film installation marking the centenary of the death of Wilfred Owen.
The film, written by Philip Hoare and directed by Adam Low, incorporates readings by Ben Whishaw of both letters and poems by Owen, and is filmed at key locations from his life, including the beach in Torquay where he swam as a child, and the canal in northern France where he died, on 4 November 1918, aged just 25.
Wilfred Owen only happened to be a war poet. A century on, he peers at us, over-shadowed by his death. We see a doomed poet, not an ambitious, sensual young man with a brilliant future. History and tradition has removed him from us. In life, Owen represented not the unnatural struggle of trench life or macabre themes of war, rather a young man seeking his own identity through words, a most natural and admirable pursuit. 'I was a dark star always', Owen told Siegfried Sassoon, a year before he died.
‘I was a dark star always’ lifts Owen out of the pen to which he is frequently confined, and projects him into our time. What would he have made of life after the war, had he survived? Using words from the poet himself, Hoare re-imagines him out of history's sepia and into a bright blue sea.
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