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The Singing Detective PD Marlowes dreams hallucinations and imaginings play an important role in The Singing Detective This is a six-episode film may be seen as a marking of the first time Dennis Potter dealt with illness in his work although it is not as much an autobiography I felt myself being nudged into writing about the condition Not what its like to be ill but what its like to be a human being trying to understand the shape of your own life The three main subplots are the Hospital Ward 1980s the Forest of Dean then later London 1930s and the Film Noir fantasy of the 1940s Phillip Marlowe is the link between these worlds these subplots As the three subplots are basically telling the same story they intermingle in Marlows head As Marlow hallucinates due to his illness the flashbacks and fantasy scenes have an anchor in reality and credibility for the viewer Even more than his beloved Forest of Dean the landscape Potter occupies is the inside of the head Seeing the story subjectively from Marlows perspective forces us to associate with this unsympathetic character In Marlows head where all the stories are based he is unravelling the plots to reach a resolution By reworking his novel he assimilates his childhood memories and so comes to terms with his reality In Potters own words in Potter on Potter Marlow is trying to rewrite the novel simply as an exercise in not going mad That in turn led him to start assembling his life The multi-temporal narrative with worlds crossing into each other had been tried by Potter before and more so since Cream in My Coffee Blackeyes Secret Friends but it was probably most effectively realised in The Singing Detective The Singing Detective is visually aesthetic and uses the physical and mental state of the characters to reflect their personality and position in
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