A few weeks ago my wife bought a cd containing the instrumental version of The Bee Gees’ song “Melody Fair” and it reminded her of this movie—which she first saw in Japan a long time ago. She felt like seeing it again, document.write(“”); so I tried to locate the movie. It is never easy to find a movie that is more than thirty year-old, but fortunately such research are now made easier with the internet. The movie got only a lukewarm reception when it was released in English-speaking countries, which explains why it was never released on Dvd in North America—but it is still possible to find it on vhs (used copies available on amazon.com). However, there was a dvd release in Japan since the movie was a huge success there (the 2004 release is now sold out, but used copies are still available on amazon.co.jp). The Japanese title was “chiisana koi no merodi” or Small Love Melody.
Set in the early seventies working class London, this slice-of-life and romantic fantasy tells the story of Daniel, a shy young junior high school boy. After befriending Ornshaw, he becomes part of the school’s group of little troublemakers. Soon he also meets Melody and both fall in “love” (as any eleven years-old kid could). They tell their parents that they want to get married—now! For them, it only means “to be together”. In face of the adults incomprehension, they elope and organize a mock wedding with the help of their friends. When the adults come to interrupt the “ceremony” they meet an unexpected resistance and all ends in chaos.
It is a cute movie that reminds me a lot of Francois Truffaut’s L’argent de Poche (“Small Change”, 1976)—maybe Truffaut inspired himself from Melody or maybe it’s because both movies are told from the children point of view. And of course, it is impossible to watch this movie without thinking of Oliver, as both Daniel’s and Ornshaw’s actors played major parts in this famous 1968 movie. However, what I find the most interesting about Melody is that it is expressing well the era’s sentiment of rebellion against the establishment. It is obvious in the fact that, through the entire movie, O’Leary is trying to perfect his bomb-making (no doubt that it refers to the Provisional IRA campaign of violence that started in 1969) and in the final scene where the children literaly attack the adults (and bomb a car)!
Melody. UK, 1971, 103 min.; Dir.: Waris Hussein; Scr.: Alan Parker; Phot.: Peter Suschitzky; Ed.: John Victor-Smith; Art Dir.: Roy Stannard; Cost.: Diane Jones; Music: Richard Hewson, The Bee Gees; Prod.: David Hemmings, David Puttnam; Cast: Mark Lester (Daniel), Tracy Hyde (Melody), Jack Wild (Ornshaw), Colin Barrie (Chambers), Billy Franks (Burgess), Ashley Knight (Stacey), Craig Marriott (Dadds), William Vanderpuye (O’Leary), Peter Walton (Fensham), Camille Davis (Murielle), Dawn Hope (Maureen), Kay Skinner (Peggy), Lesley Roach (Rhoda), James Cossins (Headmaster). Rated G.