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Black Easter (1995)

Courtesy of BBC

Main image of Black Easter (1995)
For Screen Two, BBC, tx. 4/6/1995
92 mins, colour
DirectorBen Bolt
Production CompaniesBBC TV, BBC Worldwide, One World Group of Broadcasters
ProducerPeter Goodchild
ScreenplayDavid Pirie
PhotographyJohn Daly
MusicRichard Hartley

Cast: Trevor Eve (Fischer); Shaun Dingwell (Schuster); Bruce Myers (Dix); Murray Ewan (Mann); John Shrapnel (Heiger); Peter Jordan (Journalist)

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In the near future, a British policeman's investigation into the apparently racially motivated killing of a young woman leads him to a terrifying conspiracy involving corruption, people trafficking and murder.

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The theme of a man enmeshed in a giant conspiracy, haunted by the death of a woman, recurs throughout writer David Pirie's work, beginning with his first fictional outing, the novel 'Mystery Story' (1980). In 'Black Easter' (Screen Two, tx. BBC2 4/6/1995), Trevor Eve plays Alex Fischer, a policeman working in Germany following a civil war in the ex-Soviet Union in 2000, the then near future. Disgraced following a sexual indiscretion that cost him access to his family, he is recalled from suspension to investigate the death of a young Danish woman, apparently at the hand of a Muslim group in protest at the refugees being kept outside Europe's eastern borders.

The science fiction elements of the story are neither important nor particularly convincing (the lack of references to email and the internet inevitably jar with hindsight), but the focus on the tension between Western and Muslim worlds can now be seen as being particularly prescient. Bruce Myers gives an enormously sympathetic performance as a part-Turkish detective subjected to racist attacks, while Swedish actor Peter Stormare is terrific in one of his first English-speaking roles, playing the equivocal role of a 'Eupol' investigator who may or may not be trying to help Eve in his investigation.

The fourth and last of the collaborations between Pirie and director Ben Bolt, this tense if frequently implausible thriller follows fairly well-established genre lines, with its maverick cop with a terrible home life coming to grief with his superiors. Fischer's journey after he is framed however sees him find a new ersatz family and way of life on the other side of the immigrant divide, as he becomes a refugee himself, effectively providing a look at both sides of the equation. The film is capped by a splendidly gothic climax, in which Fischer and a group of illegal immigrants are led into a trap inside a tunnel. The Russian mafia has been killing thousands of men, women and children as part of a deal with the Eupol to end illegal entry into Europe, their dumped bodies chillingly discovered by Fischer after he survives an electrocution attempt. The film concludes with a powerfully open-ended image: Fischer and his female and child companions stand in the middle of a busy night time highway, staring into the onrush of headlights from passing cars, unable to believe that no one will stop and help them.

Sergio Angelini

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Video Clips
1. Over the border (3:57)
2. Farewells (3:21)
3. The cave (3:15)
4. The lights (1:53)
Pirie, David (1953-)