Day 4: OF TIME AND THE CITY (Terence Davies, UK, 2008)
In the hands of the great Terence Davies, what could easily have been a lightweight commissioned puff piece celebrating his native Liverpool takes on deeper and somewhat darker dimensions, instead becoming what he characterizes as his “chanson d’amour for all that has passed.” Weaving together vintage found footage to conjure up the milieu of his childhood memories, Davies offers documentary proof of the people, locations, and social mores he has lovingly recreated throughout his autobiographically-inflected oeuvre, overlaying the tapestry of images with a rich soundtrack that includes period pop songs (Peggy Lee, The Spinners, tracks from obscure old Hollywood musicals) and showcases his own mellifluent voice. And while his notorious crankiness is on full display—he savages the resource-draining royal coronation ceremony of “Betty Windsor” in 1953, and tartly announces the rise of the Beatles and rock-and-roll signaled his own retreat from pop culture toward the world of classical music—it’s impossible not to be deeply moved by his obvious affection for the city he has inhabited and loved his whole life. Which is now, tragically, a space he hardly recognizes—while the closing images of contemporary Liverpool seem to celebrate the grandeur of a city that has pulled itself out of at the harrowing economic depression that left the city in ruins throughout the 1970’s and 80’s, the sense of intimacy toward the images has been silently withdrawn, and we’re viewing everything through the eyes of a fellow stranger. A beautiful, moving film.
[Watch Of Time and the City on Fandor here.]