Of Time and the City

"Essential"

Of Time and the City Review


"We love the place we hate/We hate the place we love/We leave the place we hate/Then spend a lifetime trying to regain it." Director Terence Davies recites these words as his camera moves across a church edifice like an incantation in his moving and emotional paean to the lost Liverpool of his youth, the impassioned documentary Of Time and the City.

Davies' films (Distant Voices, Still Lives; The Long Day Closes) have always looked to the past as both memory and memory's sometimes distorted recollections. Much like last year's My Winnipeg of Guy Maddin, Davies looks at both the past of a city and his own past there, twisting both into a funhouse mirror. Maddin, of course, barely gets out of his childhood alive, but for Davies, his Liverpool is a state of lost innocence killed when modernity and puberty set in. He quotes Shelley in the opening shot, an image of a slowly opening curtain in a movie house, "The happy highways where I went and cannot come again." Davies is already placing Liverpool as a mythic town of his childhood and boldly states, "If Liverpool did not exist, it would have to be invented."

Davies covers his formative years 1945 to 1969, liberally quoting not only Shelley, but also a collection of quotables from Joyce to Chekhov to Jung as he interweaves archival clips and newsreel footage of Liverpool and post-WWII England around it. Davies' narrative voice is mildly sarcastic and heavily melancholy as he recalls his golden youth, peppering the film with Mahler, Sibelius, and Bruckner, along with The Hollies, The Spinners, and Peggy Lee.

The film is divided into two sections, the first section outlining the wonderful childhood days in his city and the second section showing the inevitable destruction of his youthful wonders. Linking the sections are film clips of children in strollers pushed around the Liverpool sidewalks as the backgrounds change from one era to the next.

Davies introduces his childhood recollections by saying, "Here was my whole world -- home school and the movies." Of Time and the City offering a wonderful collection of footage from the 1950s as Davies recalls his trips to the cinema with an evocative series of theater marquees and television footage of movie premieres ("At seven, I saw Gene Kelly in Singin' in the Rain and loved the movies and swallowed them whole."), Liverpudlians on the beaches and partaking of the amusement piers, clips of British football games (Davies remembering his mother in the kitchen listening to the games on the radio and shouting out the scores), his love of wrestling with clips of games from Liverpool Stadium and his burgeoning homosexuality (his interest in wrestling making him aware of "dark desires which thrilled and compelled"), and the oppressive church, which tipped him to a lifestyle decision ("Caught between canon and carnal law, I said goodbye to my girlhood").

Of Time and the City is a longing tone poem of Liverpool, not bracing like the original, impressionistic city documentaries like Berlin: Symphony of a City or A propos de Nice, but infused with a smoldering undercurrent of time lost and a churning, haunted passion for that lost time. It's a time not only for Davies, but for us all: "Come close now and see your dream. Come close now and see mine."

I think I see a Beatle.



Facts and Figures

Run time: 74 mins

In Theaters: Friday 31st October 2008

Distributed by: Strand Releasing

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 93%
Fresh: 51 Rotten: 4

IMDB: 7.2 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: Solon Papadopoulos, Roy Boulter

Starring: as Narrator (voice) (uncredited)

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Wind River Movie Review

Wind River Movie Review

After writing the superb Sicario and Hell or High Water, Taylor Sheridan moves back into...

The Vault Movie Review

The Vault Movie Review

Filmmakers Dan Bush and Conal Byrne attempt a mash-up of a frantic heist movie with...

Goon: Last of the Enforcers Movie Review

Goon: Last of the Enforcers Movie Review

The 2012 Canadian comedy Goon was one of those surprising little films that snuck up...

Detroit Movie Review

Detroit Movie Review

After The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty, Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal reteam to...

Logan Lucky Movie Review

Logan Lucky Movie Review

Good news: Steven Soderbergh's well-publicised retirement from directing only lasted about four years. He's back...

American Made Movie Review

American Made Movie Review

An enjoyably freewheeling tone and Tom Cruise's star wattage combine to make this an entertaining...

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power Movie Review

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power Movie Review

It's been a decade since Al Gore's wake-up-call documentary won the Oscar. And here he...

Advertisement
The Hitman's Bodyguard Movie Review

The Hitman's Bodyguard Movie Review

It really doesn't matter that this movie is utterly ridiculous, because the central pairing of...

Final Portrait Movie Review

Final Portrait Movie Review

A relaxed, amusing true story about noted Swiss painter and sculptor Alberto Giacometti, this sharply...

Tom of Finland Movie Review

Tom of Finland Movie Review

Finnish artist Tuoko Laaksonen used the name "Tom of Finland" as he drew explicit illustrations...

A Ghost Story Movie Review

A Ghost Story Movie Review

Filmmaker David Lowery reunites the stars from his offbeat Western Ain't Them Bodies Saints for...

Atomic Blonde Movie Review

Atomic Blonde Movie Review

From the co-director of John Wick, this similarly styled action romp puts Charlize Theron front...

Girls Trip Movie Review

Girls Trip Movie Review

This movie's premise basically sounds like The Hangover with added black girl power. But it's...

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Review

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Review

There's so much manic energy in this animated action comedy that it can't help but...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.