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Morris: A Life with Bells On

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Feature Film - Mockumentary

DVD: Available Now
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Run Time:
101 minutes



Lucy Akhurst


Sir Derek Jacobi, Greg Wise, Ian Hart, Naomie Harris, Dominique Pinon, Sophie Thompson, Richard Lumsden, Aidan McArdle, Charles Thomas Oldham, Harriet Walter.

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Official website
6.3/10 IMDb

Featuring classic Morris dances Leeks on Fire, Tubs of Lard for My Old Lady, the astounding Threeple Hammer Damsen & more!



A heartwarming feature length comedy shot in documentary format that shows the fortunes of one of the leading Morris dance teams in the country, Millsham Morris, and in particular those of its avant garde leader, Derecq Twist.

On the one hand, Derecq is a traditionalist - when we join him he is preparing to perform the ultimate Morris Dance, the mystical and legendary Threeple Hammer Damson - and yet on the other, he is pioneering an innovative and daring freeform brand of dancing - Extreme Morris.


Ken Russell, The Times

Described as This is Spinal Tap meets Calendar Girls, the film follows the fortunes of an avant-garde Morris team in their struggle to push the boundaries of the venerable, ancient dance. Moving from the beauty of the Cotswolds to the sprawl of LA, this mockumentary uncovers the politics and ultra-competitive core lurking beneath this seemingly innocent pub pastime of hanky-waving bearded men.

Oldham, the scriptwriter, and Lucy Akhurst, the director, have made a sophisticated faux-naive film that combines the style of Best in Show, The Full Monty, Zoolander and Babe. I thought that it was a genuine documentary for a while, so minutely observed are the characters. (Especially the Frenchman, played by Dominique Pinon, who explores the existential ramifications of Morris via hallucinogenic home-made scrumpy.)

It was only when the famous names started showing up, actors such as Derek Jacobi and Greg Wise (brilliant in their roles), that I tumbled to it being a send-up. (Known actors such as Aidan McArdle and Ian Hart disappear into their characters.

Oldham has managed to walk that tightrope between irony and sincerity and come down squarely on the side of heart. Akhurst does a great job of dramatising the English countryside. Oldham stars as Derecq Twist, an avant-garde Morris dancer (a phrase that pretty much defines the term “oxymoron”), in a Dorset group of male Morris dancers. He gets into trouble when he decides to introduce some new moves into the traditional dance forms and is punished by the “folk police” the overruling governmental body whose members decide what is allowed in the tradition of Morris dancing.

The language is a huge delight. “Morris is a contact sport it’s no fancy dance in a car park.”

The dance names are wonderful: Legs on Fire, Tubs of Lard for My Old Lady, the Threeple Hammer Damson (with its 457 separate moves). But it’s the staves, kicks, twirls, ribbons, hankies, bandanas, boots, bells and that balletic leap that convert you.

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