One Hundred Steps is a short film set inside two stately homes, Bantry House in Ireland and Musée Grobet-Labadié in France. Within the walls celebrating the great and the good, people play folk music, dance and sing, representing the voices and the cultures of the people who built these houses, worked in these houses, but will never see themselves represented in these houses.
We start in Bantry House, which I knew nothing about before seeing this film, but have since looked up, and it is fascinating. Built in the 18th century, it is the traditional home of the White family. Richard White was awarded the title of Baron for leading British forces against French support for Irish rebels fighting for independence. He eventually graduated to becoming Earl of Bantry, a title handed down to his sons, who sat in the House of Lords as Tories. You don’t need to know any of this to enjoy the movie, I just found it interesting so I thought I’d share. It’s pretty clear who they were when you see the mansion filled with finery and portraits.
While the tour guide narrates the official story of Bantry House, the attendees break off into different rooms, and there sing in Irish, dance, and play the pipes. The names and the faces of those who made this house will not be seen or spoken in these halls, their stories will go untold, but for the duration of this film the sounds of their lives are heard, resounding.
From there we travel to Marseille in France. The Musée Grobet-Labadié is another great house of a wealthy family, filled to the brim with artworks and museum pieces. As the tour guide describes the bourgeoise owners’ love for collecting expensive portraits and paintings, again those in attendance wander off into different rooms. There they sing in Occitan and Arabic, play pipes, drums and cymbals, dance. They fill the house with the sounds of the myriad people who lived and worked here, from across France and North Africa. Like in Bantry, their portraits, history, lives and cultures will not be displayed on these walls, but for a moment, the film gives them space to be represented.
Really interesting wee film.