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Cordelia Swann
Phantoms (1986) was a transitional film for Swann in that it marked a watershed between her previous work in tape slide with its basis in the manipulation of secondary or found images to work using footage shot by the film-maker and with a more discernible narrative structure.

The film's technique echoes the working methods of many of Swann's contemporaries at that time; film-makers including Derek Jarman, Cerith Wyn Evans, John Maybury and Steve Chivers (branded as the 'New Romantics') favoured the use of the domestic format of Super-8.

Phantoms' often exquisite, atmospheric images of nature, architecture and interiors hark back to the opulence of the earlier work, yet are harnessed into a narrative of yearning and unrequited love through intertitles and the appearances of the male and female (Swann herself) protagonists. The film is an essay in desire using images rather than words. It's like a prose poem, with the intertitles giving it syntax. Swann acknowledges the influence of silent film at the time and especially that of Russian lyricism in literature and film, with its conflation of the landscape with the personal.

A Call to Arms (1989) was Swann's first project to use a script. The images were shot and then put together using index cards, in the same way Swann would later make 'Desert Rose'. For Swann, the film's feminism comes out of autobiography and not feminist agendas per se. It is presented as a gift to her grandmother, who was a suffragette; and is a combination of a tribute to her and the film-maker's continued interest in a 19th century lyrical aesthetic.

Still from Phantoms by Cordelia Swann, 1986
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