Saturday 28 March 2009

Of Time and the City: Review

Greetings to all. My name is Nick, and I’m a film student at Hereford College of Arts. Along with a few of my fellow students, I’ve been asked to review some of the films you can see for yourselves at this year’s festival. I’ll be submitting these on an irregular basis, so be sure check the website every now and then to read our thoughts on both the latest releases and cinematic classics.

To say that Of Time and the City is crammed with nostalgia is to do it a disservice, and an understatement. It’s absolutely teeming with nostalgia, and this is partly where the charm of the film lies.

The film, directed by Terence Davies, consists of a montage of film clips of Liverpool in various stages of life in the 20th century, from 1950 onwards. While a lot of effort has gone into finding the best footages the various archives have to offer, this would normally not be enough to carry such a film.

Which is where the music comes in. Giant, soaring classical pieces from the likes of Mahler and Handel accompany the snippets of video, taking the emotional effect to a higher plane and underlining certain sections looking at the issue of the class system and the huge housing blocks that came to dominate the city skyline. And this is helped immeasurably by Davies himself, providing narration reminiscing about his youth in the city.

And what a narrator he is. Like Watchmen’s Rorschach, albeit in a much better mood and with a poetical manner, Davies’ voice growls and booms and from the speakers like the word of God he refers to so often during the film, taking on a sense of the ethereal. His charm and wit certainly don’t hinder things, his anecdotes endearing himself to those in the audience (which, seeing I as was the only person under 50 attending this particular screening made for a cosy atmosphere!).

What this all adds up to is, as mentioned previously, nostalgia. What’s incredible is how it makes me, personally, feel nostalgia for a city I’ve never been to, and for a time I haven’t lived in. Of Time and the City is not simply a film about Liverpool, or Terence Davies. It is a film about childhood: mine, yours, and ours. It is a film about the cities and towns we grew up in, whatever and wherever they were. It is a film about that most important of human experiences: life.

I’d recommend this film to anyone who is looking for a change from the normal cinematic experience, regardless of age.

Next on my list of films to see is Robert Bresson’s POW drama A Man Escaped. Be seeing you!

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