Of time and the city

…and now i am an alien in my own land

One day, a couple of weeks ago, anxious, shut-in and tired of reading, I went to the movies in the middle of the day. Film forum was my theater of choice. It was the opening day for “Of time and the city,” Terence Davies’ new film.

It was a dreamy experience, not least of all because I was in a movie theater at 2 or 3 in the afternoon, and discovered a whole other world of daytime art-film-goers: people who hacked and coughed constantly, and hissed “Quiet!” at the least sound of popcorn crackling; people who wheezed and snored softly; people who grimaced at the thought that someone might try to share their row.

The movie was composed almost entirely of archival footage of Davies’ hometown, Liverpool, in the years of his childhood and young adulthood. Elements of the film are simply the archival footage, the sound of the director’s voice, and the music. Sound like documentary? It’s not. It’s better.

To listen to Terence Davies talk about his archival practice,

I said, when we were cutting it, ‘cut it like fiction.’ And then it has a subtext, that’s an emotional subtext, which people either get or they don’t, they like it or they don’t, but cut it as fiction. And then, then, it becomes ellipses, and that is really exciting because it’s not: ‘this happened, that happened, this happened.’ It doesn’t become that. It becomes an emotional journey, and real– The difference between film and television is, in film you go on a journey; in television they tell you where you’re going.

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2 thoughts on “Of time and the city

  1. Wow, you surely add a behavioral context in your description of daytime moviegoers and their own practices! Note to self: look away from the matinee!

    But seriously, i see why this statement resonated so much with you. I especially appreciate his elucidation of the difference between film and television. Hearing him say it instead of being uoted, his enthusiasm and fire is infectious and persuasive! Indeed, this research that we are doing is aimed at taking people on journeys, at least pointing out that their intellectual journey can progress on an alternate thought path and produce something beautiful if not traditional.

    The excitement of the narration is also infectious as he describes the tightness ofthe jerseys stretched taut across the wrestlers bums, and the holds in which he was able to touch the inner thighs of his competitors. THere is no other way for the sinful delectableness of such emotions to be conveyed in teh traditional dry cut documentary style. Indeed he took us on a journey just int hose little snippets of the film, it reminded me of my yonger self and unrealized desires residing beside a sense of the actual excitement to be had were the fantasy to be made real.

    So “cut it ;ike fiction”, yes, use the tools of the trade in novel ways to create something new, unexpected and enlarging.

  2. The other things I wanted to say, that I neglected in my first comment was:

    1) his description of the story as a filigree or a web…I mean really elegant metaphor

    2) what happened to the curtsy at formal events?

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