PRINT April 2010


Don Levy's Herostratus

MORE THAN FORTY YEARS after its premiere at London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts in 1967, Don Levy’s Herostratus has been given a second chance at recognition, if not at the fame that is, ostensibly, its subject. The British Film Institute, which originally put up most of the minuscule budget for the ambitious 35-mm feature—seven years in the making, according to its director—has digitally restored and issued it on DVD.

Born in Australia, Levy began making films while he was at Cambridge doing a Ph.D. in theoretical chemical physics. His thirty-minute Ten Thousand Talents (1960) is a scathing and hilarious satire of the British class system as institutionalized at his alma mater. Shot in grainy black-and-white scuffed up to resemble aged prints of 1920s Surrealist films and edited with quicksilver intelligence, it displays an astringent sense of the ironies that can be achieved through

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