Don Levy's "Herostratus" August 30, 2011 8:27 PMSubscribe
Hidden away in vaults and out of distribution for over forty years,Herostratuswas in its own time largely misunderstood. After only a handful of initial screenings it virtually disappeared from public view altogether, remaining all but forgotten to this day. Yet while admittedly flawed, the film does offer a compelling critique of the failure of 1960s postwar idealism in Britain, an ideal portrayed as having degenerated into neurotic self-gratification. It is also of note as Dame CommanderHelen Mirren's first credited screen role. (not safe for those sexually aroused by Helen Mirren) Later critics would remark upon Herostratus's apparent influence on Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange (1971). Levy was undoubtedly highly respected by many important contemporary British directors, including Richard Lester, but Herostratus's failure to find an audience in Britain persuaded him to leave for America, where he would teach and experiment with many subsequently abandoned projects. He would never make another feature again. While Levy is more celebrated for his innovative short documentaries in the early 1960s, Herostratus is the only intensely personal statement he ever publicly exhibited.