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A filmmaker's search for a connection with the much-maligned native dance traditions that run deep in his bloodline.

As quintessentially homegrown as a game of cricket or a plate of fish-and-chips, Morris dancing is one of England’s most ancient roots traditions. And yet, to your average man-jack on the street it’s seen as little more than a national joke. And a bad national joke at that. Something to ridicule. Something to be faintly embarrassed about.

Things have always been a little different for actor and filmmaker Tim Plester. Tim hails from a family of Morris dancers, and was raised in a quiet corner of North Oxfordshire called Adderbury; an ironstone village with a proud and fertile dancing history stretching back through the centuries. The tinkling of the shin-bells is part of his heritage. Part of his legacy. Part of his very folklore. And yet, despite the connections, Tim doesn’t dance. Never has

However, when Tim first hears tell of the “Lost Generation” of fresh-faced young Adderbury dancers who tragically laid down their lives for King and Country during the carnage of The Great War 1914-1918, he begins to experience an awakening deep in his chromosomes.

To commemorate the 90th anniversary of the end of WW1, the current Adderbury village side are planning a visit to those former killing fields of Northern France; there to pay their respects and to help repair a too-long broken link in their community’s dancing lineage. When Tim accepts an invitation to join his rural brethren in their preparations for this pilgrimage, he also embarks upon a deeply personal journey of his own.

Not intended as a half-hearted beginner’s guide or as any kind of definitive tutorial in Morris dancing history, WAY OF THE MORRIS instead draws its inspirations from the meditative works of Herzog and Malick and from the writings of Bruce Chatwin. Featuring contributions from iconic singer/songwriter Billy Bragg and Fairport Convention’s Chris Leslie, and utilizing treasured super-8 archive shot by Tim’s late grandfather, what emerges is a timely and evocative exploration of the origins and impulses behind the Morris, and an attempt to understand its place within Britannia’s ongoing story.

For like it or not, the Morris is Perfidious Albion’s flamenco. Her pastoral Haka. Her yee olde shamanic Medicine dance. With it’s rhythmical skips and its capers and its roundelays, this curious white man’s mambo is a means of traversing mystical songlines, and engaging anew with the primal heartbeat of a once-and-eternally enchanted kingdom. And so it turns. And so it turns. And so it turns again.

Film Credits

Directors: Tim Plester & Rob Curry

Producers: Tim Plester & Rob Curry

Photography: Richard Mitchell

Editing: Jono Griffith

Sound: Reelsound Ltd.

Music: Adrian Corker

Production Company: Fifth Column Films


UK Classification: None

Subtitles: No

Voiceover: Yes



Length: 64 min

Colour: Yes


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Way of the Morris Screening:

  • Sun15May

    at Barbican Centre

    15 May 2011 2:00 pm

    There is also a Panel Discussion
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