Enys Men means “stone island” in Cornish. It’s also the new film from Cornish director Mark Jenkin. Jenkin, a filmmaker who also does double-duty as a Professor of Film Practice at Falmouth University, is quickly gaining a reputation as an exciting new voice in cinema, who gives his movies a fresh look through the use of traditional film techniques.
I call Jenkin a celluloid warrior, because he seems to be on a mission to prove to the evangelicals of digital photography, that to create an experience, it’s shooting on film that makes a difference.
On this episode, Teal and I watched Enys Men and Jenkin’s first feature, Bait (2019.) Both films were shot using Jenkin’s hand-cranked Bolex camera on 100′ rolls of 16mm negative film. Jenkin’s shot Bait in B&W, and even hand-developed the film himself. Call the movie a bespoke, handcrafted experience, complete with artifacts from his manual developing technique in less than sterile conditions, Bait delivers a tactile immersion for the filmgoer, that delivers beyond it’s simple story of two brothers in a seaside community dealing with the summer-set vacationers, and the changing of times.
Jenkin, shooting on the shoe-est of shoestrings, post-dubbed the entire film, and his economic shooting style provides, albeit out of necessity, some interesting editing effects. The result is a modern film with a retro feel, something audiences see fewer and fewer examples of these days.
Enys Men (2023)
Enys Men finds Jenkin stepping up his game in terms of artistic vision. The film is minimalistic in its script, but expressive in its depiction of a woman studying the environment on a desolate Cornish island. Things start off routine, but slowly changes occur. Jenkin shot Enys Men on color 16mm film stock with a zoom lens, and creates an erie, jarring, world devoid of depth of field, creating interesting plains of action that add to the unsettling events that slowly work across the film’s 90 minutes.
Mary Woodvine turns in a fantastic performance in Mark Jenkin’s Enys Men.
West Indies: The Fugitive Slaves of Liberty
Teal and I start the episode off with late director Med Hondo’s West Indies: The Fugitive Slaves of Liberty. I caught a rare screening of the film at the Harvard Film Archive in Mid April. West Indies does not currently exist on any form of rental, purchase, or streaming medium. It’s one of the films on the BFI Greatest Films of All Time 250 list, and the only way I could see it is by taking a trip. Was it worth it? Absolutely. West Indies went beyond my expectations, and it is a film that is perhaps more timely now than it was in 1977. It’s a movie everyone should experience, and I think film schools should teach it. Criterion Channel, if you are listening, please get in touch with the Harvard Film Archive and make this movie available to the masses.