The 19th-century poet John Clare once walked from an Epping Forest asylum to Northamptonshire without food or money.
Andrew Kötting and author Iain Sinclair have made a documentary about it, starring Toby Jones and a straw bear
East End Review tells us more:
A feverishly experimental documentary, By Our Selves sees Jones, Kötting and Sinclair ghosting through a middle-English landscape of hedgerows and wind farms, with Sinclair – dark-suited and goat-masked – reading excerpts from Clare’s journal.
Fragments of sound from other films and recordings add to a hallucinatory atmosphere. “John Clare was a minor nature poet who went mad,” flickers throughout.
It’s a stunning piece built on connections, coincidence and déjà vu – an introverted work, with Jones, as the poet, silent, given a voice by his real-life father’s trembling renditions.
Sinclair, whose book details his own significant links to Clare, explains: “The interesting thing was that Toby’s father, Freddie Jones, this terrific actor, had acted John Clare on TV in 1970. Toby was four years old and his father was playing John Clare and his mother Mrs Clare, and of course he goes off into an asylum in the end and Toby was freaked out by this.
“I think out of respect for what his father had done he wanted to take part. So the father and son are haunting each other… There were very strong connections and all these things came into play as we went along the road.”By Our Selves is being shown at the new Picturehouse Central in London's West End on Saturday 20 June.