Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 19: Thursday Jan 19

Of Time and the City (Davies, 2008): Roxy Bar and Screen, London Bridge, 7.30pm

This evening is curated by Passenger Films, a new film enterprise, made up of researchers and film fans, which brings hot topics from cultural geography to the film-going communities of London. Monthly events combine feature screenings with brief think tanks (with short films, discussions, speakers, drinks breaks and themed music).

Tonight's theme is the cinematic visualisations of urban change and the passage of time. The organisers will be celebrating the publication of Mark Tewdwr-Jones’ Urban Reflections: Narratives of Place, Planning and Change (Policy Press, 2011) with screenings on the theme of urban planning and its relationship with the narrative strategies of cinema.

Asisde from the main feature there will be two short films about the use of land in planning projects and on film. R K Neilson-Baxter’s ‘All That Mighty Heart’ (1962), shot by the Oscar-winning David Watkins for British Transport Films, shows a poetic ‘day in the life’ of London during the construction of the new Victoria Line. It includes fleets of Routemaster buses, the control rooms of the tube, early CCTV, vintage lights at Piccadilly Circus and children building sandcastles on the banks of the Thames. The little known ‘Destination Louvain La Neuve’, a short film from the New Town Archive, shows a historic snapshot of idealistic urban planning in Belgium and its promotion.

Time Out review of Of Time and the City:

'Terence Davies returned to Liverpool to make this docu-essay, a poetic, sometimes caustic, always enthralling cocktail of Mahler and Peggy Lee, TS Eliot and James Joyce, archive film and witty narration, all about the city where he grew up in the 1940s and ’50s. Davies left Merseyside in the early ’70s, moving south to pursue acting (briefly) and filmmaking (more enduringly, although with an unhappy hiatus of seven years from 2000) with such features as ‘Distant Voices, Still Lives’ and ‘The Long Day Closes’. 

Towards the close, Davies asks, ‘Where are you, the Liverpool I have loved?’ We see ample (a little too ample) imagery of Victorian streets giving way to demolition and housing estates. Is this nostalgia? Maybe – but that matters little: Davies’s film is a memoir, not an objective portrait of a city. And, by being so personal in a way that’s so honest and so incisive, Davies indirectly offers national commentary that’s relevant far, far beyond his old Merseyside doorstep.' Dave Calhoun

Here is Davies's wonderful use of Peggy Lee's The Folks who Live on the Hill.


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