Reviews

Luttrell Psalter Film

‘I suppose I was expecting the standard documentary-style piece, with voiceover, pieces to camera, intercut with a couple of re-creations of medieval life. That’s certainly a film they could have made, but instead they’ve made a deceptively simple 20 minute film recreating scenes from the Luttrell Psalter in an effort to transport us back 600 years. No plot, no narration, not many words at all. 

As a result, if you just view the film, it’s a very impressionistic experience. Oxen, breath steaming in the cold Lincolnshire air, haul a crude but familiar-looking plough across a field. A young boy vaults up a tree to steal some cherries, narrowly escaping a wrathful farmer. Chickens scratch around a farmyard. A wronged wife belabours her penitent husband with a stick. We’re left to have our own opinions on how like these people we are and how unlike. How hard life must have been and how rewarding. 

The film took 2 years to make, on a budget that wouldn’t normally cover the costumes, and the makers travelled to the North West to film red squirrels, to Wales to find a medieval village, and to London to find a scriptorium. This truly was a labour of love, and it shows on the screen.

For those unfamiliar with the book, the interview with the ever-watchable Michelle Brown is required viewing, and helps relate the book to the film.

So as a piece of film-making, experimental archaeology, pedagogy and indeed art, the film is an unlikely success. I hope the team put a copy online soon and it gets the wider audience it deserves’.

Michael Stocking (creator of the British Library Talking Books software) 2010

‘I have now viewed it and it “knocked my socks off”!  I was expecting it to be good but not that good.  It was poetic, elegiac, magical and yet true to its source. I was very moved’.
– Dr David Mellor (2009)