Synopsis by Judd Blaise
One of the most controversial works by author Dennis Potter, best known for Pennies from Heaven and The Singing Detective, the searing drama Brimstone and Treacle centers around the heavily troubled Bates family. The marriage between Mr. and Mrs. Bates is rocky, and both are suffering under the strain of caring for their mute, handicapped daughter Pattie. When a mysterious stranger arrives, they welcome him as a surrogate member of the family, especially pleased by his eagerness to help care for Pattie. Martin, however, is not all he appears to be -- indeed, the film ultimately suggests that he may be the devil himself. Potter uses the archetypal scenario of the supernatural visitor to explore the ambiguities of good and evil, as some of Martin's demonic acts have unexpectedly positive effects. Though originally made in 1976 by director Barry Davis, Brimstone and Treacle was subject to a last-minute ban by the BBC, which termed the film "diabolical." As a result, the film was not broadcast until 1987 -- 10 years after the script had been performed as a stage play and five years after the theatrical release of a lesser remake featuring Sting as the enigmatic stranger.
family, family-strife, handicap, mute, stranger