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Stella 15 rating

Alun Owen and director Alan Clarke's extraordinary power-play charts the explosive sexual dynamic between the titular heroine and her obsessive lover.

1968 26 mins

Director: Alan Clarke


This extraordinary power-play between the titular heroine and her obsessive lover is a showcase for the talents of writer Alun Owen and director Alan Clarke. Like their earlier collaboration, Shelter, it reveals Owen’s penchant for charting the dynamics of male-female relationships and the emotional weaponry each gender enlists when engaging in psychological warfare.

With its crackling, waspish dialogue and barbed sexual tension, Stella would be a fine TV if filmed entirely straight, but Alan Clarke’s shrewd direction elevates it further. Revelling in the confines of the 4:3 ratio, Clarke films his lovers in tight, claustrophobic closeups, revealing unusual angles and intimate juxtapositions. Critics at the time felt Clarke’s camerawork was too showy for the material, but seen today in the context of Clarke’s career it’s a fascinating forerunner of his later exercises in style for the BBC. Digitisation supported by the Mohamed S. Farsi Foundation.