DVD review

Last Days Of Dolwyn

added: 22 Feb 2013 // release date: 18 Feb 2013
certificate: Cert PG // director: Emlyn Williams
studio: Studiocanal // film length 91 min
reviewer: Claudia A

Last-Days-Of-Dolwyn Printable version
This Welsh melodrama from 1949 should be noted for two things: it features Richard Burton in an early role, and it also features a fair bit of Welsh singing – usually at moments when the script’s dramatics would least require it.

Set in 1897, the drama unfolds in the fictional Welsh farming village of Dolwyn, after a brief ‘prelude’ that shows a memorial plaque marking the deaths of two people killed in a flood decades ago…
That’s when the actual story starts, and before we are introduced to Dolwyn and key characters, we get to see glimpses of the majestic Welsh countryside, complete with singing shepherd and seemingly happy sheep. Alas, dark clouds appear on the horizon, and later still in the shape of Rob (Emlyn Williams, who also directed). Rob is an agent dispatched by Lord Lancashire to visit the village and buy the land. There’s a reason for this: a huge dam and reservoir to supply water to Liverpool has been constructed at the head of the valley above Dolwyn, but construction has stopped due to geological difficulties – hence Lord Lancashire considers it a cheaper option to solve the dilemma by flooding the village.

While foremost, Rob’s job is to persuade debt-ridden Lady Dolwyn (Barbara Couper) to sell the land, and to offer the leaseholders large sums for their leases as well as new houses in a Liverpool suburb; he also has his own agenda: as a young lad, he was kicked out of the village and had stones thrown at him by the locals for apparent thievery. Lord Lancashire’s scheme is therefore most welcome, as it provides Rob with plenty of opportunity to ‘get even’ with the villagers.
But Rob isn’t the only soul dispatched from England to arrive back in Wales. Gareth (Richard Burton), who now is the village shop owner, also used to live in England for some time and what’s more, he’s one of the villagers who, years ago, threw stones at Rob…

Gareth’ foster-mother Merri (Edith Evans) is understandably not willing to give up her home, but by chance Gareth discovers a document that states that Merri owns the land in perpetuity. When a lawyer confirms the discovery, Lord Lancashire (Alan Aynesworth) decides to step in… only to find his rheumatism cured by Merri! As a sign of gratitude, he decides to leave the villagers in peace, instead opting for a more expensive constructing to get things flowing again without having to flood Dolwyn. This incenses Rob no end, as he sees his chance of personal revenge dwindle by the minute. He conjures up an evil plan to sabotage the dam in order to flood the valley, but when he finds himself unable to do so, he’s adamant to set fire to Merri's cottage…

This b/w ‘industrialist vs. villager’ melodrama offers no bonus material on the DVD.

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