By Jordan Mooney.
With thanks to Tess Humphrey, Purpleman, Rob Martin and Helen Fay.
Purpleman’s name has been rung around a lot in the Yorkshire press as of late; little surprise, for he’s been extraordinarily busy. Art shows, new performance pieces, the enlisting of further Purple gentlemen across the world, and, as a piece de la resistance, his now world famous mission to bring 4,000 soft toys across the Syrian border to displaced children whom have lost their closest companions.
The result is he’s become engrained into his proud city’s fretwork; in a time where hatred, xenophobia and intolerance is becoming more and more common, Purpleman provides a silly little resistance – a particularly pertinent message for the disillusioned youth and community helpers in any of the UK’s counties. He is of no race, no background, not even a concrete name. He is our anonymous assistant through a very unforgiving world.
It is perhaps of little wonder, then, that he has chosen to make a similarly silly, pointless feature length picture – one with very little relevance to anything – depending upon how far you’re willing to dig.
When a purpleman emerges from a purple sea cave, he finds himself in a most unusual landscape of most unusual people – Yorkshire. He soon trolls the unforgiving moors, catches a lift to Hebden bridge, indulges in Purple tea, purple cakes, purple flowers and purple soaps. He drives his purple car, becomes a purple buddhist, sells purple art, and, finally, catalogues to us his incredible purple adventure bringing furry allies to the displaced children in a broken, forgotten world.
It really is a very silly, very self indulgent little adventure. Directed by Rob Martin, who provides a fabulously deadpan outlook on his exploits, it is nothing more, in reality, than the man of violet hue dossing about in numerous adoring shots of the Shire, the beautiful landscape, eccentric people and quirks really do give a hint as to why he’s proven so damned popular in York and beyond. He’s a curiosity – and so is his little motion picture.
Sporting numerous visual gags (a purple man in a little battery powered purple car powering across the landscape at .15 of a mile per hour) and silly fart noises (He assures us these were organic, but we have doubts), the film’s lack of concrete plot, micro-budget and sheer adoration of the daftest possible concepts it can think up brings me back decades to the age of the 60s & 70s stoner film.
The funny thing is that it endears us to the Purpleman character just as much as talking to the man; it oozes passion and enjoyment, and builds a lot of personality as it meanders from place to place with nary a care in the world. By the end of it you’re cheering our technicolour friend on as readily as you would any ‘proper’ film.
Is it a particularly well crafted picture? No, of course not. It certainly isn’t attempting to be an arthouse or story driven piece and isn’t built for global box office. It is an endearing tale of an eccentric doing eccentric things – often, in front of eccentric people. And if that sounds like something you’d enjoy? I advise you to seek it out and indulge – because even if you won’t come away having learnt an awful lot? Not a minute of it will feel wasted – and you’ll be reminded that while it’s all very silly indeed, it’s all for a good cause.
The Chronicles of Purpleman is all part of Rob Martin and our Indigo chum’s campaign to bring smiles to a country that seems to have forgotten its welcome. Through misspelt subtitles, fake farts and a set of very bemused Yorkshire folk, this silly wee picture presents a different kind of experience to those who wish to recapture a smile or two – and see a man helping others.
I can’t say I recommend The Chronicles of Purpleman as a piece of the cinematic arts, but as a way to get a smile, a way to get closer to a marvellous fellow and a way to learn about the true experiences of children in war torn areas? It can’t be missed. It may even bring a purple tear to your eye.
The Chronicles of Purpleman had its official première in Syria on the 18th of June.
We attended the UK première – in the company of many soft toys, a positive speaker, the Lord Mayor of York and some purple folk singers – at City Screen, York on the 20th of June 2016.
It has since played at the Glastonbury Fringe on 25th of June – crikey!
Look out on the Purpleman Facebook page for when it may be playing near you..!
Rated 12A for extreme silliness, mild fart jokes and the odd drunken Yorkshireman.