Film - The Raging Moon

Raging Moon

Out this week on DVD and Bluray from Studiocanal and digitally remastered, The Raging Moon is watched by Chris Smith...

Taking its name from a Dylan Thomas poem about love, The Raging Moon is a challenging, heart-felt love story in 1970s Britain, doubling as a time capsule. Bruce Pritchard is a mouthy 24 year old man, suddenly paralysed on his brother's wedding day. While he maintains a cocky front, being confined to a wheelchair and forced to live in a convalescence home for the disable has stripped him of everything. Lost, alone, and frustrated, he struggles to adapt but when he meets Jill Matthew, another wheelchair-bound resident, he's given something over than his disability to focus on.

The sexuality of disabled persons is a difficult subject for filmmakers. Efforts to show the less-abled as anything other than "cripples" in need of constant help are often patronising at worst and hollow at best. The Raging Moon isn't perfect but is, for its time, perhaps more sensitive than you might expect. Bruce loses not just his mobility but his family (for they don't know how to help) and future. He's bored more than anything and unable to connect with the others in the home. He has been dumped for lack of better term and while he puts on a brave face, he's obviously miserable. Jill may have gotten used to her Polio-induced paralysis but is convinced that her fiancé no longer wants to be with her or even finds her attractive. She wants to be loved and not seen as a burden or charity case. In the case of both characters, The Raging Moon does a wonderful job of showing the isolation those with disabilities face. The truth is Jill and Bruce are drawn together because they understand the pain each is in.

Set in 1971, The Raging Moon portrays the attitudes to disability common at the time. "Cripple" is used with abandon - even by the home's staff - and there's a very real sense that no one knows how to "deal" with the disabled. While well-meaning and kind, Bruce and Jill's family don't speak to either as equals. Everything is about helping them to forget or "get on" with things, and how everything will be ok if they just try. In many ways, attitudes have changed for the better. In many ways, they haven't.

Unsuccessful at the box office, The Raging Moon is a little slow in places and the temptation to switch off is there. However, for those who are prepared to remain until the credits will be rewarded with one of British cinema's hidden gems.

Image - Amazon