Loneliness and the Modern Pentathlon


This work takes as its impetus the discipline of the Modern Pentathlon, an anachronistic Olympic sport comprised of running, swimming, shooting, horseback riding, and fencing. Its five formalized events were chosen by Baron de Coubertin, founder of the Modern Olympics, to encapsulate the fictional adventures of a gentleman liaison officer who fights his way on horseback, foot, and finally through water, to deliver an urgent message.

Loneliness and the Modern Pentathlon archly hangs this rarified sporting discipline on the narrative structure of the British Angry Young Man film The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (1962). This newly imagined version is also set in an isolated school in rural England and likewise plumbs themes of individualism versus collectivity. Yet, crucially, elements have changed.

In Loneliness and the Modern Pentathlon, a charismatic, ageing headmistress (rather than headmaster), played by Rita Tushingham, iconic star of British New Wave cinema, presides over the daily life of her charges. Her regard – sometimes tender, sometimes cool – is echoed by the camera’s voyeuristic observations that accumulate in a series loose narrative vignettes. Played by both professional dancers and Olympic-level Pentathletes, this group of youths enact a fictitious form of the Modern Pentathlon through hybrid movements that are part dance, part sport, part experimental performance.


Rita Tushingham
Sam Weale
Lorena Randi
Emily Bright
Dylan Elmore
Fred Gherig
Neil Gibson
Henrietta Hale
Sian Lewis
Rachel Lopez
David Minchin
Jonathan Stephens
Lindsey Weedon


Henrietta Hale

Zeena Parkins

Director of Photography
Noski Deville

Ülrike Munch

Sound Designer
Charis Coke

Production Executives
Maggie Ellis
Franco Marinotti

Production Manager
Pinky Ghundale

Production Coordinator
Ionna Karavela

First Camera Assistant
Steve Annis

Camera Loaders Anna
James Karen Jit

Tom Guy

Suzie Lavelle
Shaun Mone

Duncan Barrett
Lawrence Beckwith

Sound Assistant
Andy Hayward

Sound Editing Assistant
Melissa Mohamdee

Still Photographers
Thierry Bal Ryu Voelkel

Makeup Artist
Jo Stelly

Headmistress’s Jacket
Natalie Jones

Costume and Prop
Master Jennifer Clark

Costume and Prop Assistant
Sam Tidman

Anna Vass

Title Design
Paul Hetherington

Music supervised by
Electra Productions

Music performed by
Zeena Parkins
The Kitchen House Blend Orchestra, NYC

Thanks to

Triona Adams
Arri Media
Jan Bartu
Jo Beadsworth
Lali Chetwynd
Edit Hire
Darren Flook
Fuji Film
Handweavers Studio
Hempstead Equestrian Centre
David Kean
Leon Paul Fencing
Lewis Lyons Executive Cars
Charlotte Mailler
National Rifle Association
National Small Bourne Rifle Association
Istvan Nemeth
Bruno Pacheco
Alan Pett
Peter, Halina and Jim Scharf
Seedpower Studio
Len Thornton
United Nude

Funded by

The Arts Council England with support of Film London and by Fine Arts Unternehmen