The Arbor

The Arbor

Andrea Dunbar was described as a genius straight from the slums. The unflinchingly honest playwright wrote about her distressing upbringing on the Arbor, the notorious Buttershaw Estate in Bradford, UK. When she died tragically in 1990 at the age of 29, Andrea left behind her plays and three children by three different men. Although Lorraine, Andrea s oldest daughter, acquired a knack for writing, she was unable to avoid a grim fate of her own. This documentary follows Lorraine and her other sib

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3 thoughts on “The Arbor

  1. 1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
    3.0 out of 5 stars
    The experiment worked pretty well, but seldom engaged me, December 14, 2011
    By 
    Michael Harbour “mharbour” (Portland, Oregon) –
    (REAL NAME)
      

    This review is from: The Arbor (DVD)
    Interesting. Certainly an unusual way to make a film and it works surprisingly well but, really, I wasn’t all that engaged most of the time. The scenes from the play “The Arbor” performed in the park were pretty cool, though.

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  2. 1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Unique, brave and moving piece of documentary and docu-drama film making., October 18, 2011
    By 
    K. Gordon
    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)
      
    (REAL NAME)
      

    Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
    This review is from: The Arbor (DVD)
    This tells the life story of UK playwright Andrea Dunbar, who was
    discovered at a very young age in the British housing projects known as
    ‘The Arbor’ where she wrote about the alcoholism and family decay she
    watched around her.

    The film uses two extraordinary devices, both of which I found
    off-putting at first, but had great impact by the end.

    First, scenes from Dunbar’s plays are staged in the open lawn areas of
    the real life Arbor, so we see a fight taking place in a living room at
    night acted out on the grass in broad daylight (with a couch and other
    living room props sitting there surreally, watched by – presumably –
    the neighborhood people still struggling under the same conditions. At
    first this just seemed distracting, but over time, it helped bring home
    that Dunbar’s works represented real people, real lives, real pain.

    The second, even odder and more audacious move, is to have all the
    interviews with the real participants acted out by professional actors
    lip-syncing to the recorded words of the real people. Again, the was
    distracting for the first while, but eventually it lead to the film
    feeling simultaneously dreamy and like a memory, and in some way more
    ‘real’ than if the actors simply used their own voices.

    A very moving film that doesn’t always work, but his heroic enough in
    it’s bravery that it more than overcomes the occasional missed step.

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  3. 4.0 out of 5 stars
    Razor-edge slice of life…, October 23, 2012
    By 
    R. Gawlitta “Coolmoan” (Milwaukee, Wisconsin USA) –

    This review is from: The Arbor (DVD)
    I admit I didn’t know much about Andrea Dunbar before this; I watched it because of reviews and award-recognition. It’s certainly powerful and disturbing, and all involved do not hesitate to show life as it is, in a most dismal and unforgiving locale. It’s a very clever format, using Dunbar’s words and experience to portray life on the ass-edge of the UK.

    “The Arbor” is often hard to watch, and I admire it for the unflinching grit portrayed by actors and director. We have a situation that is prevalent in an area of the UK that has produced many artistic prodigies, but none as simple and unassuming as Ms. Dunbar. The differences among the 3 daughters are well defined, and I can’t imagine how their bleak existence could be more powerfully displayed.

    Not pleasant, but definitely worth a look. The artistry is definitely complete and intact. I watched this last weekend, and it still resonates. A lesson for those who think they’re at wit’s end: Write a play.

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