The Moon and the Sledgehammer is a documentary film that first saw the light of day in 1971. It has since been shown at a number of the smaller independent cinemas followng its release on DVD in 2009. I came across the film through ‘The North Western Series’ a new record label that we posted about last week. They were clearly inspired by it all. It tells the tale of a family:
The Pages live in a ramshackle house situated in six acres of woodland, which they own themselves, in the heart of the commuter-belt, 20 miles south of London. The trees cut the Pages off completely from the outside world, and isolated in their island-clearing, they let the 20th Century slowly pass them by. It is a simple life without running water, electricity or gas. Peter and Jim earn what little money the family needs by doing casual repairs to tractors and farm-machinery in the neighbourhood. Machinery is the permanent obsession of Mr Page and his sons. The wood is littered with rusty iron carcasses: parts of old engines, disembowelled car-bodies: a pile of gigantic spanners. Most spectacular are the archaic steam traction-engines which the men tinker with and drive thunderously about the woodland to no apparent purpose. The girls, too, have their special preoccupations: Nancy sits at her embroidery; Kathy tends her garden and plays comforting tunes on the harmonium in the house, or on the piano rotting away outside. As the film unfolds each member of the family spells out their personal fantasies and philosophies to the camera. For all their prodigious skills, they seem at first eccentric, quaint; their ideas tangential to our own. But in the end it emerges that they are in control of their world in a way that we can never be in control of ours.
The feeling of simplicity of lifestyle is deepened by the fact that there is no voice-over narration, and the whole doucmentary was filmed using just natural light.