OF TIME AND THE CITY
Terence Davies was in the wilderness when he made this, his only documentary. While he had been given considerable freedom earlier in his career by the British Film Institute, Davies was regarded with huge suspicion by the new, much more commercially focused UK Film Council. His work was considered too idiosyncratic, and he was seen as too much of an auteur. Archive-based, using a husky voiceover from the director himself as well as plenty of classical music, the documentary turned out to be an utterly magical piece of filmmaking.
Davies fully acknowledged the influence of great British cinema visionary Humphrey Jennings’ 1942 short LISTEN TO BRITAIN. Like Jennings, he was looking for the poetry in the everyday. Whether the scenes of kids in playgrounds, the footage of factory workers, the shots of working class families in their tenement homes or the material showing huge crowds at race meetings and football matches, every frame of the film is lyrical and hugely evocative.
Davies’ lament for the lost city of his childhood was treated as an instant masterpiece. Earlier in his career, the director had been nicknamed the “proletarian Proust.” This documentary fully justified such an epithet. (Geoffrey Macnab)
- Terence Davies
- Tim Pollard
- Liza Ryan-Carter
- Ian Neil