This documentary was started many years ago and is no nearer to final completion than it would have been had the makers decided to make the best of the material they had on hand then to capture the life and work of Alasdair Gray.
Even the latest cut , which was being edited and worked on at 4 am the day of this showing , has only one glib , almost flippant , reference to the Independence vote coming in 2014 , in which he categorically states "Home Rule" as he likes to call the process will be a certainty , a comment that deserves some clarification and production of evidence as nearly all the polls being conducted seem to suggest the YES vote is over 10% behind the NO in all opinion polls.
The makers claim lack of financial backing for the project as to why we are still no nearer the final presentable cut , though one does wonder if their is also the artistic element of lack of grounding to which aspect of the multi-faceted Gray they want to explore rather than superficially voyeur a bare scratching of his many disciplines only to find they have penetrated beneath of the surface of none.
As the Q&A after screening suggested the documentary does not cover any of the critiques and analysis of Book both at home and abroad by other artists which Gray loves to discuss in depth with his colleagues and peers as pointed out by Bernard MacLaverty , another contributor in the session pointed out the non-existence of vast writings and discussions Gray has had about religion and the church within the universe of spirituality.
Having seen the documentary and heard the input of the audience it seems the best course of action for the makers would be to have a taut appraisal of one aspect of his expression in a deep and meaningful way , for example by far the best parts of the documentary were the scenes and close-ups of his Murals , it was the rare times you got to see Gray the artist at the art-face.
Gray is a brilliant Muralist , superb painter , gifted novelist , skilled publiciser , very good playwright , critic and a noteworthy poet.What he is not is the archetypal classical speaker of a nations voice that marks out a Yeats or a Gibran , or the embarrassing comparisons to being a Scottish Leonardo Di Vinci which should make all parties cringe.The one weakness in Gray "the myth" is that he does not have the finger on the pulse of the nation , this can be read as either him being way ahead of his time , or it being questionable if his watch is in good working order , i go with the broken watch theory.In the matter of art this is an asset , to breath and work to a completely different aesthetic wave is the spice of stimulus , but to be the voice of a nation one needs to be a paradox of an artist that is grounded and rooted as well as uplifted and aspiring.It is something the great Celtic Artists can do , but Gray , despite his variety of expression cannot do to a deep level.The same goes for Nationalism as expressed by the Celtic Peoples which is a healthy embracing of others nationalism which genuinely strives to have local decisions made locally by those accountable to the constituency they live in , unlike the superiority nationalism we see in the continent.
To illustrate the point , Grays wading into the nationalist question has had the effect of those in favour of independence seeing his "input" as somewhat of a liability , whereas those that wish to retain the union can quote him copiously as the frankenstein nightmare of what an independent Scotland could become.What for an artist can be a welcome trait , can for an advocate in the political realm be a blunder of catastrophic unwise proportions.
For example the Scotsman Newspaper had this take on his bizarre and misplaced attack on non-Scots "colonialists" taking over the arts.An ironic piece of lack of sense as the very organisation he attacks has only this year re-claimed Macbeth in a fantastic production that has been a smash in Broadway and plans to stage a major production of Hoggs "Confessions of a Justified Sinner" in the summer.
This irresponsible piece from someone who should have known better compelled the much lauded and universally appreciated director of The Scottish National Theatre to defend herself on the grounds of "race".The flurry of comments shows how much heat rather than light was generated.
This prompted a polemical debate in the Bella Caledonia Magazine in which the reply in the rebuttal comments section by the brilliant Scottish Actor Tam Dean Burns deserves to be published in full.
So much for any weak points about Gray the national voice , Gray the artist is a supreme talent and deserves the last word in a medium in which he is a master, in this link you can see him talking in depth about his Novel "Lanark" and its impact since publication.
You can see most of the documentary on youtube ( notice how many years since it went up).