Figures in a Landscape 1971 *****

Two of the most fondly remembered British actors, Robert Shaw and Malcolm McDowell are the central pairing of Joseph Losey’s Figures in a Landscape, which justifies its title by frequently presenting them as stick-men on wide Panavision frames. On the run for unexplained reasons, pursued by un-named forces, Losey creates something of an experimental film, with dialogue of the expected elliptical quality from Harold Pinter. Shaw’s affinity with the latent menace of Pinter’s scripts worked well on-stage and in film (The Birthday Party), and McDowell matches him as an ideal foil. Focusing on specific visual elements and leaving the rest to debate proved too much pretention for audiences at the time, Losey and Pinter’s refusal to explain or define the situation they vividly describe now seems masterly, making Figures in A Landscape a film for the ages, not for 1970.


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