List Film

Herostratus (4 stars)

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Herostratus

(15) 142min
(BFI Blu-ray & DVD retail)

Don Levy’s criminally overlooked 1967 media satire predates Sidney Lumet’s thematically comparable Network by ten years. When subversive young poet Max (Michael Gothard) hires an advertising company to turn his planned suicide (by jumping) into a spectator sport things soon get out of control and the poet’s bid for celebrity status is soon revealed.

Playing off a vague assimilation of the Faustian legend and satirising the inherent capitalism that was behind Swinging London, Don Levy’s little seen film is a wonderful rediscovery. Haunting and odd and reminiscent in parts of the work of Ken Russell (aside from the fact that Gothard had already been in Russell’s The Devils) and visually of Donald Cammell (and Nic Roeg), Herostratus is ripe for rediscovery. This two-disc set includes a number of Levy’s short films, a 1973 interview with Levy discussing Herostratus (the only known recording) and an illustrated booklet with newly commissioned contributions and original documentation.

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