In 1969, Philip Trevelyan filmed the beguilingly strange life of the Page family, who lived off-grid and rode steam engines around their wood.
From the first moment of the cult documentary, The Moon and the Sledgehammer, we are taken into a disturbing, marginal and strangely marvellous world: the home of the Page family, who live without electricity or running water in a wood in Sussex.
It is 1969 and ‘Oily’ Page is a theatrical septuagenarian who lives with four grown-up children in the style of 1869: they’re not hippies who’ve gone off grid, but the last members of an agricultural community driven to extinction by modern machines.
A portrait of a fantastical family at odds with the world and then themselves. Scrap metal, steam driven lumberjacking self-sufficientists.
The film was my compass for Gallivant and my accomplice for This Filthy Earth it has nurtured me and fed me. Jon Bang Carlsen must have drunk from the same trough, his companion films ‘It’s now or Never’ (1996) and ‘How to Invent Reality’ (1996) contain smidgeons of the same spell binding. Ben Rivers’ ‘This is my land’ (2006) a magnificent pretender and then of course there’s Stalker. If you go down to the woods today you’ll hardly believe your eyes.