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Monday, April 9, 2007

Scarecrow Film in HD: Record Collector Article


ROCKIN' THE BOX

PINK FLOYD Scarecrow (Pathe News)
Filmed in Northwich, Cheshire. 8 July 1967

On the morning of Saturday 8 July 1967. Pink Floyd found themselves at Cheshire's Brereton Local Nature Reserve to film a surreal and highly colourfu1 Pathe News clip for the Syd Barrett penned track “Scarecrow”.

THe flip-side of their current single, “See Emily Play”, it was taken from their soon-to-be-released debut album “The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn”. When the final edit was unveiled, Flovd fanatics and music lovers alike were treated to two colour-drenched minutes of Messrs Mason, Waters, Barrett and Wright dressed in full 60s hippie regalia, wandering aimlessly through the reserve's cornfields, sitting in trees, appearing from behind bushes, sunbathing on the grass and swapping hats with a scarecrow. Against the backdrop of that hot, sun-drenched summer's day, we also witnessed a mock gun fight between Nick Mason and Roger Waters, In this light-hearted exchange, the latter mock-shot Nick in the hand. He managed to fire back at Roger, who playfully falls down and plays dead in the grass. Another sequence in the film saw Barrett pick up a scarecrow, carry it through the woods and stick it on the edge of a swampy pond.

Although extremely short, the film remains one of the most famous, iconic music clips to come out of the Swinging 60s. Following the film's limited release to UK cinemas on 21 September 1967, and numerous excerpts of it appearing in various 60s retrospectives and Floyd documentaries, the clip was placed back into the Pathe News archives, alongside four minutes of outtakes from the shoot, which featured additional tree-sitting, grass-lounging and cornfield-wandering. The most memorable un-broadcast shots include alternate (but laugh-marred} mock gun fights between Mason and Waters and two further attempts by Barrett to place the scarecrow in the murky pond.

Previously believed to exist only in 16mm print form, in July last year (coincidentally at the time of Syd Barrett’s unfortunate death) researchers trawling through the ITN / Pathe vaults came across the original 35mm negatives of the film. The impeccably preserved reels included the edited released version, as well as the aforementioned unscreened outtakes. Naturally, the amazing discovery received heavy coverage in UK newspapers, newsites around the world, and of course, here in Record Collector. Immediately after the unearthing, those in charge of the ITN library ordered the negatives to be transferred to a modern, high quality format. This has now been completed and Pink Floyd’s antics in a Cheshire field on a hot summer’s morning back in July 1967 can now be enjoyedforever by future generations.

Having been treated to an exclusive airing of this newly remastered footage, RC can state that it is sensational. The film has never looked so clear and vibrant. Ross Landau, head of music at ITN Source, said, ‘The outtakes from the British Pathe archive are the first piece of our music content to be digitised into a High Definition format. This unique footage captures one of the greatest bands of our time at the pinnacle of their career and the transfer ensures it will be preserved for years to come. You can still see the 0rignal Technicolour version at www.itnsource.com. Regarding the music, the final words must come from Floyd's Rick Wright: 'Just listen to Syd's songs, the imagination he had. If he hadn't had this complete breakdown, he could easily be one of the greatest songwriters today. [What happened is] one of the saddest stories in rock’n’roll... He was brilliant and such a nice guy.’

Keith Badman. With thanks to Ross Landau and John Nolan RC 145

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