In 2014, Friends of Crystal Palace Subway commissioned me to run a film screening event for their Heritage Lottery Inspired by the Subway project. I put together an evening of 3½ films starring the palace, the park and the subway, framing Crystal Palace as a magical zone of pleasure and transformation.
The Pleasure Garden (Dir. James Broughton 1954, 37mins)
Amidst the ruins of the Crystal Palace Gardens, a frock-coated Minister of Public Behaviour (John le Mesurier) is determined to stamp out the least sign of indecency or lewdness. However a fairy godmother (Hattie Jacques) comes along in his wake and sets the characters in the park skipping, loving and dancing once more with the aid of her magic scarf. A Cannes-winning valentine to the land of Edward Lear, Shakespeare and pantomime.
Amelia & the Angel (Dir. Ken Russell 1958, 26mins)
A delightful mix of religious allegory and magical fantasy directed by Ken Russell, who lived in Crystal Palace for many years. A young girl, Amelia, distressed about losing the wings she was to wear in her school nativity play, is saved when she follows an angel into a mysterious building.
Journey Into a Lost World (Dir. Ken Russell 1960, 22mins) The poet John Betjeman reminisces on Britain’s great historical exhibitions: Barnum and Bailey’s circuses, Brighton fairgrounds, Crystal Palace, Alexandra Palace, the original White City pleasure ground, the Empire Exhibition at Wembley and the Festival of Britain.
Setting Sun (Dir. Dom & Nic 1996, 4mins)
The psychedelic video for the Chemical Brothers’ 1996 hit, with vocals from Noel Gallagher.