For  Bill  Douglas,  film-maker


by James Wilson



Film was, for all of us,

a new way of seeing;

it was, in truth, a magic lantern.


We saw a world that was

both reel and – yes – unreal;

it was dream-like, but a dream we shared.


So many strange journeys,

so much to discover;

nature formed us, and we formed nature.


In time, of course, we learned

how much is paradox;

screens got bigger, but also smaller.


And film could cloud our eyes,

as screens could hide the truth;

that lantern might lead us anywhere.


Yet – set down in the midst

of so much confusion –

you found your place and led us to it.


You were both scout and guide,

taking us home again;

you found a path that we could follow.

© 2013 James Wilson

We were sad to hear of the death of the documentary film-maker and writer James Wilson, who died earlier this month. His family have kindly allowed us to publish this wonderful poem that James wrote about Bill Douglas, 'For Bill Douglas, Film-Maker' and we are very grateful to them.

Born in Edinburgh in 1923, James Wilson was a journalist, producer for radio and television, and published novelist. He travelled widely as a documentary film-maker.

The photograph of Bill directing Michael Hordern on the set of Comrades is by David Appleby.


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