Friday, August 4, 2023

Earthsea at Dartmouth

A still from the short documentary "Picture Business," showing a seated Michael Powell.
In 1980, the British director Michael Powell came to Dartmouth as its Artist-in-Residence. Powell had
been in the picture business in one form or another since 1925, beginning to direct projects in the 1930s. By the time of his visit, he had made many successful movies, five of which remain on the British Film Institute's Top 100 British Films list. 

While at Dartmouth, he would develop a small-scale project with a group of students: a scene from Ursula K. LeGuin's Earthsea Cycle. LeGuin's classic fantasy series was one that Powell had been interested in adapting previously, and it made for a good opportunity to give students hands-on experience with the film-making process under the guidance of a seasoned director. The final film is lost, but you can see pieces of it, along with behind-the-scenes footage and Powell's own thoughts on the series and film-making in a brief documentary from our collections, digitized here.

For the Earthsea fans, you can read the script for the film, adapted from a scene in The Tombs of Atuan, in the Film and Media Studies records. Ask for DA-815, Box 31316, Folder 9.