A fin-de-siècle personal portrait of London shot over a period of twelve months, which saw the election of John Major as prime minister, renewed IRA bombings, the ‘Black Wednesday’ European monetary crisis and the “fall of the house of Windsor”. —BFI
One of the most distinctive voices to emerge in British cinema since Peter Greenaway, Patrick Keiller was born in Blackpool in 1950. He studied at the Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London, and initially practiced as an architect. Chris Marker’s film La Jetée (France, 1962) left a deep impression, but he only made practical steps towards cinema in 1979, when he joined the Royal College of Art’s Department of Environmental Media as a postgraduate student.
Slide-tape presentations blending architectural photography with fictional narratives pointed the way towards his first acknowledged film, Stonebridge Park (1981), visually inspired by a railway bridge in an outer London suburb. Images from a hand-held camera are accompanied by a voice-over commentary presenting the thoughts of a petty criminal panicked by the consequences of robbing his former employer. Norwood (1983) continued the ‘story’, and the technique, in another London… read more
"As a city it no longer exists, in this it is truly modern": the anger, the love, the analytic civil irony, the felt absence in that quote is mirrored in every stylistic and narrative device of the film: in its voiceover with opinions of a man we never see, in its stills of decay... So much of the way we organize life is absurd indeed.
A lot rougher and angrier than I remember Robinson in Space being, but still when I see this form of docu-travelogue-time-travel narrative I cannot help but think the director is writing a letter specifically to me. Else how does it contrive that I got around to this disc on an election year? --PolarisDiB
"He isn't poor because he lacks money but because everything he wants is unobtainable." A beautiful picture.