I well remember seeing Orphans at a packed cinema in Glasgow in the late spring of 1999. It was the summer of The Matrix and The Most Anticipated Movie of All Time, Star Wars: Episode I. But somehow this wee Scottish picture rose above them all to announce itself as one of the films of the year.
Twelve years on, Peter Mullan’s debut feature is as vibrant and invigorating as it ever was, but what’s most evident about Orphans now is how much it changes and how much it offers on subsequent viewings.
When viewed with a responsive cinema audience, especially in Glasgow, who were all ready to lap up the vernacular and the profanity, there was never any doubt it was a riotous comedy.
And yet it’s not. Even though it can be very funny, as Peter himself confirms in the booklet that accompanies the new DVD release, it’s a dark, dark film. There’s humour there, if you want to see it, but also anguish and pain.
In person Peter is anything but dark, and when we met in his favourite cafe in the South-side of Glasgow in late August to talk about his thoughts on Orphans and his short films, both now and then, he was a friendly, generous and engaging interviewee.
Two hours of anecdotes and reminiscences later, and we had everything you could ever want to know about Orphans ready to be put on paper.
It’s a fun accompaniment to an amazing film, and whether you’re a frequent watcher of Orphans, are re-visiting it for the first time in years or are coming to it fresh, I’m sure you’ll find it as rewarding as I did.
Paul Greenwood is the film reviewer for the Glasgow Evening Times and contributor to Total Film and DVD & Blu-ray Review.
Orphans is released on DVD and Blu-ray in the UK on 31 October and is available now from Amazon.