OF TIME AND THE CITY, a film by TERENCE DAVIES (Madman DVD)

 |   |  1 min read

OF TIME AND THE CITY, a film by TERENCE DAVIES (Madman DVD)

This poetic meditation on his home city of Liverpool by the great British film-maker neatly blurs fact and faction into a seamless dreamscape of reflection on what once was and what has been lost . . . not just in that dark and dank city of his childhood, but also for the director himself.

Using archival footage in grim black'n'white and with lines drawn from TS Eliot, AE Houseman, his own writings and others, Davies takes the viewer back to a half-remembered and often bleak, repressive but oddly magical Liverpool with its bombed out streets, massive cathedral, iconic Three Graces along the River Mersey, and to those massive crowds waving handkerchiefs at football matches or crowding into the popular public pools in Birkenhead before the war.

At times you can feel Davies ache with nostalgia in his voice-over -- but then growing up gay and Catholic, the mood changes abruptly into the pains of this place which formed him.

The music chosen -- from Taverner's The Protecting Veil to Peggy Lee's The Folks Who Live on the Hil (no Beat-era bands) -- also acts as supporting the emotion or providing dark counterpoint.

The newer towerblocks of the Fifties look even more emotionally debilitating than the squalor of the terrace housing of old.

Yet there is ineffable beauty in this 70 minute feaqture which moves at a slow and stately pace, drawing the eye and ear in to the fragmented, suggested narrative that Davies' soft but raw voice describes.time2

The new Liverpool receives scant acknowldgement, but this was always going to be about that painful but sometimes rewarding process of going back to childhood streets and memories -- and it is mostly driven by the idea of memory more than grounded in the concrete. It is what it felt like more than what it might have been.

Winner of best documentary awards from the Australian Film Critics Association and the New York Film Critics Circle in 2009, and receiving lavish praise for its visual style and lyrical elegance, Of Time and The City  -- with an excellent interview with Davies in the additional DVD features -- is subtitled "a love song and a eulogy" -- and it is indeed both.

Raw but beautiful.

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Film articles index

THE OLD GREY WHISTLE TEST DVD REVIEWED (2007)

THE OLD GREY WHISTLE TEST DVD REVIEWED (2007)

If you want to capture the essence of the 70s in a word it's "hair". At the start of the decade there were Afros and cascades of curls halfway down backs (that's the men) and the long... > Read more

VAN DIEMEN'S LAND, a film by JONATHAN AUF DER HEIDE, 2009 (Madman DVD)

VAN DIEMEN'S LAND, a film by JONATHAN AUF DER HEIDE, 2009 (Madman DVD)

In the first volume of his projected trilogy about the history of his homeland -- Australians: Origins to Eureka, published 2009 -- the writer Thomas Keneally writes of the first Irish convicts... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

RUFUS MARIGOLD by ROSS MURRAY

RUFUS MARIGOLD by ROSS MURRAY

Those of us who have not suffered from anxiety cannot truly know how paralysing it can be. And the notion of “anxiety attacks” is something of a misnomer, the anxiety is always there... > Read more

Charley Pride: Lawyers, sums and money

Charley Pride: Lawyers, sums and money

The phone call was going to be a simple one. The gentleman in question was truly one of country music's real gentleman, Charley Pride, the black singer who had conquered the whitest music genre... > Read more