The screenplay written by David Rudkin is rooted in the mystical power of rural England. 'Revolt from the monolith, come back to the village' says the Parson to his son in one scene, summing up the message of the film, set in Worcestershire, which seeks to reconcile the duality of England’s pagan and Christian heritage. The central character, a young Protestant, seemingly homosexual, but deeply conservative, is plagued by mystical sexual visions, first of the devil, then of his hero, the composer Edward Elgar who lived close by. The boy comes to learn of the pagan heritage of the land, and that the spirit of the 7th century King Penda, one of the last Anglo-Saxon pagan kings, still haunts the land.
“Our land must live. This land must live. Our deep, dark flame must never die…Cherish our flame. Our dawn shall come”- King Penda