3 August 2018

SIMPLY MEDIA PRESENTS: LONGFORD. (2006) A SUPERB TV FILM REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS.




LONGFORD. (2006) BASED ON TRUE EVENTS. WRITTEN BY PETER MORGAN. DIRECTED BY TOM HOOPER. STARRING JIM BROADBENT, SAMANTHA MORTON, LINDSAY DUNCAN AND ANDY SERKIS.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

This is a really gripping television film about the toff politician who interested himself in the legal case of Moors Murderer Myra Hindley. Hindley, with her lover and accomplice Ian Brady, murdered five young people in England in the 1960s and buried the remains of four of them on Saddleworth Moors, a bleak and beautiful but now godless place, thanks to its association with the murders.

When the body of their just-murdered final victim was found in their council house the day after the murder, the killing spree of Britain's most evil couple came to an abrupt end. But the pain of their victims' parents, friends and family was only just beginning.

Both Brady and Hindley were imprisoned until they died, Myra first of emphysema relating to her chain-smoking in 2002, and Brady in 2017. Type 'Ian Brady's Death' into Google and read the creepy little articles you'll find there about the disposal of his remains, remains that no-one wanted to touch or be associated with.

Anyway, in the 1960s, Myra requested a prison visit from high-up Labour politician Lord Longford which, apparently, she was perfectly at liberty to do. Eccentric do-gooder Lord Longford had long been into prison visiting and the whole area of penal reform and he agreed immediately, despite the fact that Hindley was generally considered to be the most evil- and hated- woman in Britain.

Frank Longford, the seventh Earl of Longford, was one of a very few aristocratic hereditary peers to have served in a senior capacity in a Labour government. He held several cabinet positions between 1947 and 1968, though he was deemed incompetent and childlike by his fellow politicians. He was excessively religious and had a big bee in his bonnet about the degrading effects of pornography on both the user and the used.

Jim Broadbent brilliantly portrays him here as a likeable enough, wild-haired fuddy-duddy with a posh accent and a pwonounced lithp, an overly-idealistic campaigner for social reform. He expects everyone to be as honest and moralistic as he is himself and it seems to never occur to him that someone might be pulling the wool over his eyes, in this case Myra.

When he first goes to visit Myra in prison, he's expecting to meet the hard-faced, bleached blonde trollop of the infamous security photo that everyone knows. Instead, he's enchanted with the shy, brown-haired, soft-voiced little wisp of a woman who sits nervously chain-smoking across from him in the Visitors' Hall. Unbelievably, the deluded lord even tells her what a pretty smile she has...!

He quickly forms the opinion that Ian Brady must have been the driving force in his and Myra's relationship, and Myra the badly abused pawn who only participates in the murders out of fear and love of Brady. The pair had an obsessive love, an all-or-nothing type of thing.

Lord Posho practically jizzes himself- excuse the crudeness- when Myra tells him that she's a Roman Catholic just like he is. He urges her to pray, after totally getting her hopes up about one day getting parole. This never happens, as we already know, but Lord Longford immediately starts campaigning fervently for her release.

The media have a field day, as they say. Longford alienates nearly everyone who hears about the identity of his latest 'cause,' everyone from the general public and the Moors victims' families to his own wife and his author daughter, whose book launch he ruins by talking about Myra to the press in front of everyone.

His wife deeply resents the time her husband spends visiting Myra and replying to her
endless letters, but Lord Snooty is never one to shy away from an unpopular cause. In fact, he seems to go out of his way to unfailingly do and say the wrong things in the eyes of the public.

Though I'm not an expert on the case, I imagine that his association with Britain's most reviled woman- and murder case- caused people to forget completely about the good work he'd done before he ever heard of the brown-haired little mouse of a woman who apparently 'held him in her thrall,' as was mentioned to him unflatteringly a time or two.

Andy Serkis (Gollum in THE LORD OF THE RINGS) is frighteningly good here as Ian Brady, the embittered, hate-filled Scot from the tenements in the Gorbals who once courted Myra Hindley and, if she's to be believed, brought her over with him to the dark side.

Brady summons Longford to a meeting with him in prison just to tell him that Hindley's making a fool out of him, Longford. It looks like he's heard about Longford's association with Hindley and he's just plain jealous.

He wants to ruin it, viciously tear it to shreds like a spoiled child who's angry that another child has gotten a present in its place. His vile words to Longford convince the shocked toff that he was right all along, that Brady is just pure evil and that he must have exercised a detrimental influence over Myra.

In the mid-'Eighties, just when it looks like Myra might, might, might be possibly getting paroled, Ian drops a bombshell to the press and the police that will ensure that neither he nor Myra will ever leave prison. 

Clearly he can't stand the thought of Myra being free to do whatever she wants while he's still stuck behind bars. You can see his point. Why should she get out of prison, when she's just as culpable as he is for the murders that put them both behind bars? 

I think some judge said once that there was some hope for Myra if she was removed from Brady's influence, but it all comes down to whether you believe she was just his abused pawn or an equal partner in the murders. 

Anyway, Lord Longford is shaken to his core that Myra lied to his face about additional murders to the ones for which she'd been convicted. Can their relationship survive this terrible jolt...?

Longford comes across here as a bit of a well-meaning twat. He does mean well, but he lives in the privileged ivory tower of aristocracy, in other words in la-la land, or what we'd refer to here in Ireland as cloud-cuckoo land. We Irish positively love accusing people of living in cloud-cuckoo land. It means they're not living in the real world, that they've got their heads up their you-know-whats, lol.

Longford is seen at one point in the film interviewing homeless people living under a bridge with a clipboard in his hand. I wonder if the homeless people felt ever so slightly patronised because, unless Lord Longford's questions come with a side order of hot food and a bed for the night, they're just more pointless questions on a sheet of paper in yet another survey that gets filed away that no-one ever reads. As I suspect happened to a lot of these so-called government 'reports,' commissioned to give the do-er something to do and also to make the gummint look busy.

Okay, so Longford saw the good in everybody and thought that every sinner deserved to be forgiven if they repented honestly. Myra told him that she'd made her confession in prison to the prison chaplain. She told Longford that she'd confessed everything, causing Longford to think that she was a reformed character but then, years later, it all comes out about the two additional murders.

Longford obviously wanted to believe that no-one, even a child-murderer, was beyond redemption. Well, I'm not one to judge. I can't say whether or not he was right to put his faith in Myra Hindley. My gut instinct is certainly telling me something and it's that he made a mistake born of his naiveté and idealism. It's not my place to say but that's what I think. Make of it what you will yourselves.

LONGFORD, a superlative television film, is out now on DVD courtesy of SIMPLY MEDIA.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger, poet and book-and-movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

 You can contact Sandra at:


http://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com








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