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Orquil Burn

Margaret Tait
1955
35 mins colour

Orquil Burn

A journey to the source.

'A voyage of exploration, on foot, up the length of an Orkney Burn, a walk which could be done in less than a day, but which, for the film, is spread and apportioned. It's the filmmaker exploring or re-exploring a burn which she knows quite well, which she has 'always' known but never before gone right to the source of, in the hill. What I found, going upstream, was that while the actual stream of course got narrower and the bridges needed to cross it got smaller and neater (just a plank of wood for the highest on up) the area of wetness - of water lying on the ground and trickling downhill - was wider and wider. I had expected to find 'a source,' but it turned out that the sources were many, the origins widespread; and there was no particular point at which I could say 'this is the source of the Orquil burn.'In the better known stretches of the burn there are familiar artefacts, buildings close to it, bits of machinery which make use of its power, and signs of re-channelling; and people and domestic animals frequent its banks. Wild flowers persist throughout its length, and the difference between those that flourish downstream and those on a windy heath is part of the film too.' - MT

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