Hey There, Little Red Riding Hood
The subeditor on Peter Bradshaw’s piece draws the obvious comparison between the Red Riding trilogy and Life On Mars and their very different depictions of Seventies policing. In some ways they embody the different instituional spirits of their creators: the BBC (even handed but authoritarian) and Channel Four (radical, polemical, perhaps too easily distracted by sex and violence). Whilst Life On Mars is at least partially nostalgic, albeit in a compelling fashion, no one in 1974 – policeman or otherwise – is to be sympathised with. The bully boy cop in LoM might call you a puff, here he would break your hand and laugh whilst doing it. The nearest equivalent to Gene Hunt here is Warren Clarke’s sour, taciturn and malevolent Bill Molloy: you can’t imagine anyone sticking him on a T-shirt.
The film depicts the West Riding of Yorkshire as a Lynchian nightmare world into which our glib protagonist – poisoned and weak from exposure to London – is gradually enveloped and destroyed. It has a mesmorising, hallucinatory intensity, the naturalism and period detail giving way to a sort of magical realism. The Yorkshire landscape is naturally given to brooding but here it takes on extraordinary levels of pathetic fallacy. The humans who walk on the skin of this land are closed, shaded and unknowable. 1980 and 1983 are highly anticipated.