Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Angel Mountain -- the big themes

 Martha with her captured musket, having sorted out the French Invasion
We continue to talk and plan,  and continue to hope that a run of four series might be on the cards.  There are a lot of themes to be covered in 32 episodes, but a clever screenwriter can do it!

This is the narrative:
A pregnant, suicidal teenager survives the loss of baby and husband to become Mistress of a ruinous Welsh estate. Through turbulent times, helped by assorted unlikely "angels", she refuses to conform or submit, fights for the rights of the downtrodden, and defeats the enemies who desire both her and her inheritance.

But behind the driving force of the narrative there is a lot going on.  All the best costume drama taps into the big storylines of the day. “Victoria” (ITV) did that very well the other day when it tapped into the tragedy of the Irish Potato Famine.  These are some of the themes dealt with across 32 episodes of the story:


Episodes 1-4 (On Angel Mountain, 1796 - 1797).  

Context:  Big estates in trouble -- and the French Invasion.  Also flag up W Wales as the wild west -- rebellious, almost anarchic, with little respect for the government from Westminster.


Episodes 5-8 (House of Angels, 1805 - 1806).  

Context:  21 Oct 1805 - Battle of Trafalgar.   Napoleonic Wars.  The justice system and the penal colonies -- and the desperate attempts made by small estates to keep afloat.  The gentry will stop at nothing just to survive.


Episodes 9 & 10  (Dark Angel, 1807 - 1808).   

Context:  25 March 1807 - abolition of the slave trade.  Lawlessness -- corruption of the gentry and the justice system. Napoleonic Wars roll on. The diplomatic business of “the right marriage”…..


Episodes 11-14  (Sacrifice, 1808 - 1809).  

Context:  Secret Societies and their role in maintaining the hold of the gentry over those who want reform.  Effects of opium etc. Violence, revenge, and the inability of the law to protect those who are in danger.  Rough justice -- Ceffyl Pren etc.  The country is still at war.


Episodes 15-18  (Conspiracy of Angels, 1810 - 1815).  

Context:  the slave trade, which is supposed to have stopped.  The contrast between the lives of the poor and the life of the upper class -- Martha encounters it in her trip to the Lake District.  Kidnappings, ransoms etc -- Martha is pulled into the corridors of power, and is involved in secret actions sanctioned by the Prime Minister himself.  Sir Thomas Picton and the case of Louisa Calderon. Final defeat of Napoleon.


Episodes 19 & 20 (Dark Angel, 1817 - 1822).  

Context:  Owain’s history in the turbulent wars in Europe, caused largely by the predations and ambitions of Napoleon.  Emigrations to America.  The country returns to more peaceful ways.


Episodes 21-24  (Rebecca and the Angels, 1832 - 1844).  

Context:  The evils of the Turnpike Trusts and the corrupt practices of the gentry.  The Rebecca Riots and social protest movements across UK  -- the use of the press in informing the public and in campaigning for changes in the law. The Chartist Riots. 


Episodes 25-28  (Flying with Angels, 1844 - 1855).   

Context:  The Irish Potato famine.  Shipwrecks.  The evangelical revivals.  The secret Society of Sea Serjeants  -- driven by ancient family animosities.  The death of Amos -- the inability of mean-spirited people to tolerate virtue.  Allegory -- burial in the tomb…..


Episodes 29-32  (Guardian Angel, 1855 - 1859). 

Context:  Industrialisation and the ambitions of the coal masters and the iron masters.  The Guest family and Merthyr Tydfil -- the poor of China.  The destruction of the landscape and the rape of the fair country….


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