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Angelic Conversation, The (1985)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

On-screen text reveals the first two lines of Shakespeare's Sonnet 151: 'Love is too young to know what conscience is, yet who knows not conscience is born of love'.

Contemporary England, Montacute mansion in Somerset: an old clock ticks as a young man, Philip, looks through a window. A female voice reads Sonnet 57: 'Being your slave what should I do but tend.' Philip turns and looks directly at the camera. Another man appears, holding a round mirror, which reflects glowing light.

A radar station is shown as a man walks down the road, the sound he makes suggests he is walking through water. Another man carries a barrel on his shoulder as a male breathes heavily in the background. A burning car appears. Another man, Paul, carries a large post over his shoulder. Another man holds a torch to the camera, as we hear Sonnet 90: 'Then hate me when thou wilt, if ever, now.' The man with a barrel reappears as Sonnet 43 is read: 'When most I wink, then do mine eyes best see' and we hear the sound of a ticking clock.

Paul holds a round mirror above his head. Another man climbs up rocks, holding fireworks. Sonnet 53: 'What is your substance, whereof are you made?' Another man smells flowers on a meadow.

Two lovers, Paul and Philip, are depicted; one holds a round mirror. Another man stands behind them, holding a fan. Orchestral music plays as we see a man with a torch. He blinks his eyes during Sonnets 148 and 126: 'O me! What eyes hath Love put in my head', 'O thou, my lovely boy, who in thy power...'

A man kneels on a stone beach, holding a large shell. Philip looks through the window as the clock ticks. A man mimes himself kayaking, to the sound of the ocean. Sonnet 126: 'O thou, my lovely boy, who in thy power...' A man rotates a golden globe. Another man stands on top of a rock.

Three men kiss a globe of gold. A long-haired, tattooed man sits on a throne. He is given a pearl necklace and a crown; Sonnet 29: 'When in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes'. A man washes the prince, who now holds a long sword. The man washes the prince's feet and kisses his body. A third man stands in the corner, holding a large candle. The sound of bells accompanies Sonnet 94: 'They that have power to hurt, and will do none...'

Paul and Philip hold each other during Sonnet 30: 'When to the sessions of sweet silent thought......' A man on a rock appears for Sonnet 55: 'Not marble, nor the gilded monuments...' The two men wrestle. They look identical: barefoot, in black trousers and shirtless. Their wrestling is inter-cut with a superimposition of light flashing on water.

A man plays a flute. At night, the two men sleep together. Sonnet 27: 'Weary with toil, I haste me to my bed...' The two men wear identical black shirts; they are now awake; their kiss appears to be a mirror reflection. Another man lies on a bed, holding a large board, which reflects the light.

Philip looks through a window, Sonnet 61: 'Is it thy will thy image should keep open...' Paul and Philip embrace, to the sound of water and a radar bleep. A man kneels on the seashore, holding a shell. Seagulls cry in the background while the voice recites Sonnet 56: 'Sweet love, renew thy force; be it not said'.

A man with a fan walks around a lily pond. Another man smells flowers. Sonnet 104: 'To me, fair friend, you never can be old'.