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The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain

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The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain is a 1995 Miramax film written by Ivor Monger and directed by Christopher Monger. It was screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 1995 Cannes Film Festival.

The movie is based on a story heard by Christopher Monger from his grandfather about the real village of Taff's Well (Ffynnon Taf in Welsh), Rhondda Cynon Taff, Wales and its neighbouring Garth Hill. Due to 20th century urbanisation of the area, it was filmed in the more rural Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant and Llansilin in Mid Wales.

Plot

The movie is set in 1917 (with World War I in the background), and revolves around two English cartographers, the pompous Garrad and his junior, Anson. They arrive at the fictional Welsh village of Ffynnon Garw ("Rough Fountain" or "Rough Spring" in Welsh) to measure its "mountain" – only to cause outrage when they conclude that it is only a hill because it is slightly short of the required 1000 feet in height. The villagers, aided and abetted by the wily Morgan the Goat and the Reverend Mr Jones (who after initially opposing the scheme, grasps its symbolism in restoring the community's war-damaged self-esteem), conspire with Morgan to delay the cartographers' departure while they build an earth cairn on top of the hill to make it high enough to be considered a mountain.

Cast

  • Hugh Grant as Reginald Anson
  • Ian McNeice as George Garrad
  • Tara FitzGerald as Betty from Cardiff
  • Colm Meaney as Morgan the Goat
  • Ian Hart as Johnny Shellshocked
  • Robert Pugh as Williams the Petroleum
  • Kenneth Griffith as the Reverend Robert Jones
  • Ieuan Rhys as Sgt Thomas

Reception

In regard to its humorous and affectionate description of the locals, the movie has often been compared with Waking Ned Devine, a comedy film written and directed by Kirk Jones. The movie has resulted in a stream of visitors climbing to the summit of The Garth, and the Pentyrch History Society and the local community council have erected a notice on the mountain to explain its real historical significance.

Welsh language

One of the most obscure jokes in the film occurs when a mechanic is asked about a nondescript broken part he has removed from a car, and replies "Well I don't know the English word, but in Welsh we call it a be'chi'ngalw." In Welsh, be'chi'ngalw has the same meaning as the word "whatchamacallit" or "thingamajig." (This is, however, explained in the novel on which the film is based).

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