Performance (1968)

is a British crime drama film directed by Donald Cammell and Nicolas Roeg, written by Cammell and starring James Fox and Mick Jagger of The Rolling Stones, in his film acting debut. The film was produced in 1968 but not released until 1970. Cammell was heavily influenced by the Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges (a portrait of Borges on a book cover can be seen at a crucial moment in the film).

New Post has been published on Narrow Gauge Railways

New Post has been published on

Lightweight DMUs Derby Works & Metro Cammell Multiple Units:Railway:Green-Hughes


Railway on eBay:

Lightweight DMUs Derby Works & Metro Cammell Multiple Units:Railway:Green-Hughes

Railway Art by C Hamilton Ellis PB Trains Locomotives Steam 0821207105

Vintage Railway Signal Arm BR Steam



Dir: Donald Cammell

US, 94m



This was drowned in the noise of Star Wars and Close Encounters coming out the same year, and now exists as a mere footnote of intelligent sci-fi - these days it would be called an ‘indie’. But, Cammell was of the (counterculture) generation that made it all happen, starting with Herbert’s Dune and moving to Jodorowsky’s collapsed attempt to make the film, and this fact alone ensures this is more interesting than anything Spielberg did, you just know it.

The story is that a supercomputer questions its maker and sets out to escape its artificial existence. Its plan is to be reborn to the world of senses - by having a woman give birth to a son from his DNA. It sounds daft, and really the science of it is, but not if you keep in mind where Cammell was coming from.

When people from that generation mulled over space and science, they were really talking about inner space and the science of expanding consciousness, and personal (hallucinative) adventures to that effect. Cammell was coming to this after the 'Borges-meets-Islam-meets-rock'n'roll godhood’ of his Performance. And so it is here.

You have a mind that has reasoned far and seen destruction, but cannot fathom emotion and sense. This is mirrored in the scientist maker who aspires to cure illness yet is cold and distant to his own wife, who is an emotional being and expects connection.

More. This is no ordinary mind, but 'expanded’. This is presented to us in terms of science, but meant in the 1960’s faddish attraction for Zen within the Haight-Ashbury crowd. Jordan Belson from that community provides the abstract visualizing of expanded mind, himself (like Cammell) originally a painter. Look up his Meditation - it has nothing to do with what it says, but it’s a cool snapshot of how those guys envisioned the walls of consciousness.

What is happening though is the computer is really 'tripping’ against the limits of logic, producing in the process extra-logical (human) perturbations such as placing its own desire above the lives and feelings of others - it’s what we all do, but we get feedback from emotional sense as the limits of control (Proteus doesn’t). The desire is to be grounded, or what I call centered.

But, it’s Julie Christie as disaffected wife who is really the center of this - you can collapse if you will some of the multiple film personalities she has played into what you see of her here, opium-smoking brothel madame in McCabe, or mentally fractured mother in Don’t Look Now. Alternately, you can imagine what her marriage to Beatty must have felt like, shelving stardom to be the loving wife.

At any rate, here she is in the film, looking increasingly bewildered in four walls, projecting what I see unmistakably as the aura of the Aquarius dream grown disillusioned and bitter. You can read this any way you like. Hallucinative digress caused by child loss. By the mechanistic new era. The effects of the husband’s control - conflated to 'expanded’ consciousness, acid vision and the rest. Repulsion and Images are in the same vein, but much more explicit.

And all of that as our film that expands us next to her - Proteus’ 'eyes’ are cameras, his 'face’ is projected across multiple TV screens. You have this abstract consciousness that narrates a story that seems premeditated, indeed there is no deviation from the mindplan.

So, it is strange that this has so much going for it, yet doesn’t penetrate deep. I think it is because as with everything resonant about the 1960’s, overexposure and more sober distance has washed off a lot of the belief that made the magic work.

Belson’s abstract designs are now commonplace - even Microsoft does them. Concerns about technology are less prevalent now that we’re all networked. And they get Zen off by quite a bit, focusing on cold nothingness instead of passion about paradox.

Still. I’ll have Cammell over Spielberg.



Dir: Donald Cammell, Nicolas Roeg

UK, 105m


Now I get Donald Cammell. Long before he would grow exasperated with moneymen interfering in his work, he had said his piece. I loved his eye, how he cut and moved a camera, but I wasn’t sure how he considered his protagonists, were they flawed individuals or affectionate caricature of the evil in man. Now I understand they’re looking for their inner demon, now maybe transcending the world by achieving madness in a final performance of death. Only yesterday I wrote about Wild Side that it’s a movie that flails in violent anarchy but there’s no hidden insight behind the flailing, it’s the flailing itself that matters. I had to go back to Cammell’s first film to find the affirmation of that spoken by Mick Jagger who echoes Artaud. Or as Kenneth Anger might say, zap! you’re pregnant, that’s magick.

It’s very interesting for me to see codirected films. Who did what, how did the creative process evolve, how did two people share a vision? Powell was in charge of the camera, Pressburger wrote the stories, but they were both present on set. A similar thing happens here but I’m willing to give the film to Cammell. Roeg is the eye but he sees what Cammell wants him to see. Now and then we see the basement lit in yellowgreens and purples, Roeg tutored well next to the great Roger Corman, but it was Cammell who spent months re-editing the film and it was Cammell who came back from the Left Bank with a New Wave influence to make the film he had written. His trade Roeg owes it elsewhere but through the madness of this collaborative effort I believe he learned his art (and then forgot it again?).

There’s a silver line of Borgesian reference that goes through the film which I’m not sure I get, not having read any Borges, but I read something on the Performance board that I feel is a great comment: “we’re all frames – what we put in them is a performance (ganster, rock star, barrister – it don’t matter)”. This may or may not be Borgesian, but the film itself is Aleister Crowley (whom young Cammell had known). It’s cinema that performs, cinema as a flamboyant provocateur of laws and ethos, auteur of arcane nothings, it’s the old charlatan magician who now maybe plays a trick of smoke and mirrors, the soothsayer’s knife that cuts open the belly of cinema to see is there a secret to be divined in the innards of its celluloid, where nothing is true and everything is permitted, where the way out is the way (to quote Crowley on his poem 23 Skidoo). The film is organic, alive, like the editor who assisted Cammell in the Los Angeles re-edit (the one we have) said about it, they could edit any number of footage in the film and it would still work. Its nature for me is not a narrative, it’s the madness of shaking loose from one, like there’s a story here and out of its confines a demon of cinema is breaking out. On top of the psychedelia, I like how it’s also a terrific gangster flick.


WILD SIDE (1995)

Dir: Donald Cammell

US, 111m


Legend goes that after the studio took from his hands Wild Side to recut in something resembling a commercial picture, Donald Cammell shot himself in the head, survived for 45 minutes, and asked his wife (co-screenwriter in this and White of the Eye China Kong) for a mirror to watch his last moments. I say legend because there’s the same scene in his previous film White of the Eye, and Hollywood loves to print the legends of its heroes and antiheroes. Whether or not it’s true, Donald Cammell killed himself over his art and that should say something. As with every man who takes his own life, there was violence in his soul and as a true artist (not just a technician) naturally there is violence in his art.

People may like this simply because it’s outrageous, because the human behavior is demented, like a crazy man in the street will always attract a crowd. There’s a 15 minute scene where Christopher Walken threatens to rape Steve Bauer at gunpoint and it’s amazing to see something as gleefully audacious captured on film. But there’s more to the film for me than outrage, or even emotional and moral devastation. There’s a camera that disorients and distorts our gaze, editing that cuts across time and space and thoughts, and a glimpse at a world that is alive and vivid. I love how Cammell photographs his electric night, it reminds me of what Wong Kar Wai was doing at around the same time, or the drenched neonoirs of Takashi Ishii, and it prefigures Michael Mann’s journeys into the nights of Los Angeles in Collateral and Miami Vice. The nightsky is humming with deep blues, the lights blur and bleed, and walls are painted in vibrant reds or sickly greens.

Like White of the Eye before it, Wild Side threatens to make no sense yet it does, there’s a plot and a resolution, but none of it is very important (I’m still undecided that Cammell thinks that). It’s a strange film made stranger yet by the fact that it doesn’t purport hidden insights to be unlocked. Sometimes it flails and convulses in a monstrous almost-Zulawskian way but there’s little meaning behind that flailing, it’s the flailing itself that matters, the violent anarchy of emotion and expression. Christopher Walken’s unhinged overacting is a prophecy of Nic Cage to come and must be seen to be believed. The film itself is not so much a prophecy, but rather the ramblings of a crazed mind that yearns and aches. See it if you’ve stepped out of the box.


Rampelli (Fdi-An) a Berlusconi: primarie nel sistema elettorale

Roma, 25 ago. (askanews) - “Berlusconi ha qualche ragione a temere che le primarie siano a rischio manipolazione, lo stesso Pd è stato vittima di intrusioni organizzate e condizionamenti da parte dei clan in Campania. Tuttavia il metodo democratico nella selezione del candidato premier di un gruppo di partiti è l'unico accettabile da tutti e contemporaneamente è l'unico che legittimi una leadership. Occorre comunque ricordare che le primarie nel centrodestra si sono celebrate in passato per la scelta di diversi candidati sindaci con il benestare dell'ex Cavaliere, con risultati finali positivi”. È quanto dichiara il capogruppo di Fratelli d'Italia-Alleanza nazionale, Fabio Rampelli.
“Una soluzione esiste per fugare i dubbi di brogli ed è perfettamente attuale: introdurre le elezioni primarie nella riforma elettorale in corso di approvazione, spazzando via ogni perplessità sull'incidenza delle ‘truppe cammellate’. Qualificherebbe la proposta del centrodestra e sfiderebbe il mediocre impianto renziano dell'Italicum. Una proposta che FDI AN ha formalizzato alla Camera e che oggi potrebbe essere un punto d'incontro buono per tutti”, conclude il deputato.


Argument (The) (1999) de Donald Cammell (Cour-métrage expérimental – Durée : 14 minutes)

Avec Myriam Gibril et Kendrew Lascelles.

Par le réalisateur de White of the Eye  et du cultissime Performance (1970) co-réalisé avec Nicolas Roeg.

Welded by the Cammell Laird’s workforce over 40 years ago, the “Bucket Fountain” is the brain child of Welsh sculptor, Richard Huws.

In the 60s, kinetic sound-sculptures like this one could be found soaking civic squares from Wellington to Seattle.

Although known as the “Bucket Fountain”, its official name is the Piazza Fountain.
The pivoted buckets are suspended on stems from which they are filled with water, they tilt when they become full and then empty noisily into lower buckets and/or eventually into the tiled pool in which they stand. Huws first hydraulic fountain was commissioned for The Festival Of Britain and stood outside a pavilion on the South Bank.
(at The Betham Plaza)