The Moon and the Sledgehammer is a British 1971 cult[1] documentary film directed by Philip Trevelyan and produced by Jimmy Vaughan which documents the eccentric lives of the Page family, consisting of the elderly Mr Page and his adult children Jim, Pete, Nancy and Kath, who live in a wood in Swanbrook, near Chiddingly, Sussex without mains gas, mains electricity or running water. The sons find employment by fixing mechanical things as odd jobs and maintain two traction engines.

The film, which is 65 minutes long, consists of interviews with the Page family, interspersed with footage of them going about their lives in the forest. It was shot using natural light on 16mm colour film. The sound is mono and there is no voice-over narration.

The film was previewed at the 1971 Berlin International Film Festival, and the first reviews were in the West German press.[2][3][4] The British press subsequently picked it up resulting in short positive reviews by John Russell Taylor,[5] David Robinson,[6] George Melly,[7] Dilys Powell.[8] After its distribution it was also positively reviewed by Philip Oakes.[9]

In 2009 the film was released on DVD for the first time. To coincide with this it had showings at various cinemas. A reunion of the director and crew and a question and answer session was held at the London showing. This forms the basis for a companion DVD, Behind the Moon and the Sledgehammer, directed by Katy MacMillan—a documentary film about a documentary film. This also features film directors Nick Broomfield, Molly Dineen, Andrew Kotting and Ben Rivers and film historian John Russell Taylor discussing the film and its influence.

As part of the re-release, it also had other reviews written of it.[10][11][12][13][14]

Recording under the name Wyrdstone, Clive Murrell uses a sample of audio from the documentary as the intro to his track Pucelancyrcan, an Anglo-Saxon name for Purchase Wood in the Parish of Brightlington East Sussex.[15] The track first appeared on the compilation album Wierdlore: Notes from the folk underground, released by Folk Police Recordings,[16] and subsequently on Potemkin Village Fayre, a Wyrdstone album.[17]


  1. ^ Simpson, Paul (2010). The Rough Guide to Cult Movies. Rough Guides Limited. ISBN 978-1-84836-213-0.
  2. ^ Der Abend. 3 July 1971. ((cite news)): Missing or empty |title= (help)
  3. ^ Berliner Morgenpost. 3 July 1971. ((cite news)): Missing or empty |title= (help)
  4. ^ Telegraf-Illus. 4 July 1971. ((cite news)): Missing or empty |title= (help)
  5. ^ John Russell Taylor (7 July 1971). The Times. ((cite news)): Missing or empty |title= (help)
  6. ^ David Robinson (8 July 1971). The Financial Times. ((cite news)): Missing or empty |title= (help)
  7. ^ George Melly (25 July 1971). The Observer Review. ((cite news)): Missing or empty |title= (help)
  8. ^ Dilys Powell (29 August 1971). The Sunday Times Weekly Review. ((cite news)): Missing or empty |title= (help)
  9. ^ Philip Oakes (31 October 1971). The Sunday Times. ((cite news)): Missing or empty |title= (help)
  10. ^ Andrew Schenker (June 2009). "Movie review: The Moon and the Sledgehammer". Slant Magazine.
  11. ^ TM (2 June 2009). "The Moon and the Sledgehammer". Time Out.
  12. ^ Andrew Kotting. "RECLAIMED: The Moon and the Sledgehammer". Vertigo Magazine.
  13. ^ S. James Snyder (4 June 2009). "The Moon and the Sledgehammer Review". Time Out New York (714).
  14. ^ Nick Rosen. "The Moon and the Sledgehammer".
  15. ^ Liner Notes to Weirdlore: Notes from the Folk Underground. Audio CD Released by Folk Police Recordings:
  16. ^ "Pucelancyrcan | Folk Police Recordings". Archived from the original on 13 May 2013.
  17. ^ "Music | Wyrdstone". 3 September 2010. Retrieved 4 May 2022.