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One of the Missing (1968)


Main image of One of the Missing (1968)
16mm, black and white, 26 mins
DirectorAnthony Scott
Production CompanyBFI Production Board
ScriptAnthony Scott
Original StoryAmbrose Bierce
PhotographyAnthony Scott

Cast: Stephen Edwards (James Clavering)

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A Southern soldier in the American Civil War is sent to reconnoitre the enemy positions and becomes trapped beneath a huge pile of rubble by Northern cannon fire. His loaded gun is left pointing precariously at him and he is faced with imminent death.

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Directed, scripted, edited and photographed by the then 24-year-old Tony Scott, One of the Missing marked the behind-the-camera debut of a director who would go on to extraordinary Hollywood success. Like his elder brother Ridley, Tony Scott had come to filmmaking through the Royal College of Art. This first effort, made with a grant of £2,000 from the British Film Institute Production Board, proved interesting enough to attract the attention of Albert Finney, who then helped to finance Scott's next film (also with the BFI), Loving Memory (1970).

Set during the American Civil War, One of the Missing is based on a story by Ambrose Bierce which itself shares elements with Edgar Allen Poe's earlier gothic classic 'The Premature Burial'. The constant possibility of his own sudden death produces a frenzied panic in the soldier, whose mind fills with memories and fantasies that push him farther and farther into a world of maddening terror.

Scott combines elements of fantasy and horror to produce a nightmarish vision of a man completely alone and confronted by his own imminent death. The tortured state of the soldier's mind is explored with innovative uses of sound and creative editing, providing a disturbing vision of a man staring death in the face, and knowing he is beaten.

David Morrison

*This film is available on BFI DVD and Blu-ray.

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Video Clips
Complete film (25:26)
Production stills
They Started Here