The story of the God who was punished by Zeus for stealing fire from heaven to give to man is transferred to a mining town from where a bewildering, semi mythological train of events begins.
A two hour movie written totally in rhyme is never going to be the next Full Monty, even if it does share one of the latter's stars (ginge trumpeter Huison). But even dyed-in-the-wool arthouse fans will find poet Tony Harrison's Prometheus a demanding film.
Prometheus is the god who stole fire from heaven to give to man and was painfully punished by Zeus by being chained for eternity to a rock and having his liver pecked out daily by an eagle. In history, the figure has stood for industry. So, appropriately enough, Harrison begins his story in a mining village on the day the local pit is to close. Once the miners are underground, however, things take a distinctly surreal turn as their foreman (Feast) appears in a camp silver jump suit and is revealed as Hermes come to destroy Mankind on behalf of Zeus.
At the end of their shift, the miners are kidnapped and loaded into a cattle truck, which then sets off across Europe. In Germany, they are melted into a cauldron from which an eight-metre high golden statue of Prometheus is cast. The statue is then put on trial in Dresden's football stadium before the ghosts of the 35,000 people killed in the 1945 firestorm and is carted on a lorry via the crematorium at Auschwitz to Greece.
Much of the film's scalding imagery - including a scene where a woman, mistaken for a cow, is slaughtered and cremated in an abattoir - remains in the membranes long after viewing. The script is accessible, rich and witty. And there is an eviscerating central performance from theatre vet Sparrow as an old man following the statue's progress. But, in the end, the film is ruined by its length. And after a fascinating first hour when it's thrilling to let the poetry inject straight into your bloodstream, slowly - painfully slowly - you start to overdose.
Slightly oblique experimental film has some rich witty moments but suffers for its length.
Reviewed by William Thomas