An audacious piece of live theatre from Punchdrunk broadcast across twelve hours as a standalone accompaniment to the miniseries The Third Day, this is a staggering achievement of cinematic bravado and slow television.
It takes over 500 minutes for anyone to utter a word of speech which is comprehensible and for the audience to hear (the veteran actress Anna Calder-Marshall in a cameo piece). Jude Law takes nearly two hours to dig a hole in real-time, and around a hour to drag around a very heavy looking boat.
Islanders dance around fires and act as if they are the descendants of The Wicker Man‘s Summerisle (and there is a nice nod to that classic if you wait for it), but here we are in the island of Osea, just off Essex, and maybe there is a weird religious community there who make their leader undergo a series of trials including wearing a crown of thorns and enduring the impossible: who knows?
It takes a while to get into the rhythm of this. The first half hour is a slow trip along the causeway which separates Osea from the mainland, and we only hear muffled snatches of what’s going on around us, as you would as a curious visitor. Sam (Law), who we saw at the end of The Third Day‘s “Summer” episodes being forced to assume the island’s leadership through his divine destiny, is to undergo a trial, and we will be with him all through the day.
Just like the mini-series, if you pause for a moment you will see a composition worthy of framing on the wall. The colour palette of the cinematography is breathtaking. The script, what there is of it, is more improvised experience than coherence, but this is true event TV, for which Sky Arts cleared twelve hours without a break for commercials.
Available on Sky TV’s Facebook page for a further two weeks.
Image credit: Punchdrunk/Sky/HBO