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Wholly Communion |
Charlie Is My Darling
Benefit Of Doubt
Pink Floyd, London
Tonight Let's All Make Love In London

The Fall
Fire In The Water

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A leading avant garde British filmmaker of the 1960s, Peter Whitehead made several key films documenting the counter-cultural events of that decade. Filmed in cinema verite style with hand-held camera and often without a crew, his films continue to attract critical attention among cinephiles.

Whitehead was born in 1937 in Liverpool, the son of a plumber. He was one of the first post-war scholarship boys sent to public school at government expense. After studying physics and crystallography at Cambridge University he won a scholarship to the Slade School of Art as a painter. Instead of painting, he chose the medium of film.

Between 1965 and 1969 Whitehead made five movies, beginning with the documentary that effectively launched his film career : Wholly Communion, about an historic countercultural event in the Royal Albert Hall on June 11 1965 where an audience of 7,000 witnessed the first meeting of American and English Beat poets. Among the performers were Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Gregory Corso, and Adrian Mitchell.

It was on the basis of this film that Whitehead was approached by the then manager of the Rolling Stones, Andrew Oldham, to film the group on tour in Dublin and Belfast.

Charlie is my Darling was the outcome. And it was the subsequent promo films he made for the Stones that mark the real birth of the "music video".

Whitehead himself considers The Fall to be his most important film. This is a two-hour documentary shot behind the barricades, inside Columbia University during the 1968 student rebellion, which took place in the immediate aftermath of the assassination of Martin Luther King.

In the late 1970s Whitehead gave up film-making. He took up falconry. He has also written several works of fiction.
Forty years after the release of Wholly Communion, Whitehead still remains a significant cultural icon.
(Note: denotation of 'colour' or 'black and white' to be supplied)

Cinema verite documentary of the first meeting of American and English Beat poets: Ginsberg, Ferlinghetti, Corso, Adrian Mitchell. Albert Hall, June 11, 1965. 33 minutes.

The Rolling Stones on their first tour of Ireland, 1965. 60 minutes.

An analysis of Peter Brook's anti-Vietnam war play, "U.S". With Glenda Jackson. 60 minutes.

PINK FLOYD, LONDON 1966-7 (1967, Colour)
Footage of Pink Floyd with Syd Barrett performing live and in studio. 30 minutes.

Described as a "rock concerto for film", this is Whitehead's take on swinging London in the 1960s. Music by Pink Floyd and others. Julie Christie, Michael Caine, David Hockney. 70 minutes.

THE FALL (1969, Colour)
The aftermath of the assassination of Martin Luther King, the great Pentagon protest march, the occupation of Columbia University. 110 minutes.

DADDY (1974, Colour)
With Nikki de St Phalle. Unveils the destructive, perverse and everlasting influence of a father upon his daughter, alternately gothic and surreal. 90 minutes.

FIRE IN THE WATER (1977, Colour)
With Natalie Delon, The Animals, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Jimi Hendrix, David Hockney, John Lennon. A film -maker reviews his brief movie career in the highlands of Scotland while his girlfriend explores the countryside alone. An alchemical allegory. 90 minutes.

In addition to this material, the Peter Whitehead collection contains unique footage of British plays of the 1960s, with Albert Finney in Luther, John Osborne in Patriot For Me, Laurence Olivier in The Entertainer, as well as Vanessa Redgrave and John Stevens in Arnold Wesker's The Kitchen. There is also footage of Alec Guinness in performance, and the original cast of Look Back in Anger.

There is also footage of other 1960s luminaries such as Marianne Faithfull, Keith Richards, Gloria Steinem, Edna O'Brien, The Small Faces, The Animals, David Bailey, The Beach Boys, and the man who started Radio Caroline, Ronan O'Reilly and Mike Oldfield.

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