Of Time and the City DVD
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Directed by Terence Davies
Produced in 2008
Main Language - English
Countries & Regions - British Film
Michael Brooke finds Terence Davies' evocative love song to Liverpool a profoundly poetic work.
It was commissioned as part of Liverpool’s City of Culture celebrations last year, made on a tiny budget, and most of its images were shot by anonymous cameramen many decades earlier. Yet Terence Davies’ latest film (scandalously, his first in nearly a decade, and certainly not for want of trying) is as profoundly personal and poetic as any of his others, with his instantly recognisable signature stamped on every frame. Not just in the narration by his own wonderfully rich, fruity and utterly inimitable voice, but also the musical interludes, ranging from The Hollies and Peggy Lee to John Tavener and ‘Hooray for Hollywood’. No Beatles, though, except briefly and overdubbed by others: Davies is nothing if not candid about his prejudices. He also offers some choice put-downs of ‘the Betty and Phil show’ (the Windsors, that is), and especially the Catholic Church, for which he feels he has had nothing in return for ‘years wasted in useless prayer’.
Inexpressibly haunting images of the Liverpool of his childhood and adolescence are fused with his verbal memories, especially his ecstatic discovery of the cinema (‘I gorged on the movies and swallowed them whole’) and the challenges of growing up gay in a decidedly unsympathetic environment, when homosexual activity was still criminalised and a trip to the wrestling ring offered the safest clandestine thrills.
But for all the autobiography, Davies also has much to say about the city itself, the way the working classes (from which he hails) were, for all their renowned resourcefulness and character, ghettoised literally and metaphorically. However, they preserved a strong cultural identity that is being eroded by today’s greater social fluidity – one of many paradoxes of which Davies is fully aware, and which makes his film such a tantalisingly ambiguous, endlessly multifaceted experience.
As he puts it in a credo that could sum up his whole career: ‘We love the place we hate; then hate the place we love. We leave the place we love; then spend a lifetime trying to regain it. Between loving and hating, the real journey starts. Do you remember? Will you ever forget?’.
Michael Brooke on 2nd March 2009
Author of 135 reviews
For Of Time and the City, Terence Davies returned to his native Liverpool and to his filmmaking roots to capture a sense of the city today and its influences on him growing up in the late 1940s and early 50s. His highly personal, acclaimed eulogy is also a response to memory, reflection and the experience of losing a sense of place as the skyline changes and time takes it toll.
Composed largely of atmospheric archive footage accompanied by Davies's lyrical narration and a melancholy, nostalgic soundtrack, the film seamlesly intersperses Davies's personal memories and experiences with observations about the history and culture of this iconic city.
Length: 72 mins
Aspect ratio: 1.77:1
Cat No: BFIVD789
Format: DVD Colour
Subtitles: English HOH
- The making of Of Time and the City (2009) – in new interviews, Terence Davies and the film’s producers and archive producer discuss the making of the film and the inspirations behind it
- Listen to Britain (Humphrey Jennings, Stuart McAllister, 1942) the classic wartime documentary which helped inspire Of Time and the City, presented with a personal introduction by Terence Davies
- Q&A with Terence Davies at Cambridge Arts Picturehouse
- Original trailer
- Illustrated booklet featuring essays, credits and director biography
- Dolby Digital audio (320kbps).
by Barry Forshaw on 6th April 2009
That Terence Davies’ much-acclaimed documentary about his native city Liverpool was partly funded by money from the city itself must be a double-edged sword for the co... Read on
That Terence Davies’ much-acclaimed documentary about his native city Liverpool was partly funded by money from the city itself must be a double-edged sword for the council; with its striking juxtapositions of classical music and vintage and modern visuals of the great Northern city, it’s a celebration of the locations of Davies’ childhood. But when Davies turns his attention to the excesses of 1960/70s city planners – and his dyspeptic commentary lets rip – it’s a very different story. To hear Peggy Lee’s exquisite The Folks Who Live on the Hill while hideous tower black spring up is a marvellous audio/visual irony – but at least the sardonic Davies (however much he hates The Beatles) accompanies the city’s glorious architecture of the past with exhilarating choruses from Mahler’s Resurrection symphony. As an example of the documentary art, it makes Michael Moore’s work seem thin gruel. Hide
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