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17 out of 20 people found the following review useful:

Loosely based on the travels of Daniel Defoe, this documentary comes pretty close to defining what it is to be British, and is unlike any other film I have ever seen.

Author: Mansilla from Leeds, England
1 February 1999

Robinson in Space is a contemporary interpretation of the wanderings of Daniel Defoe around Britain. Robinson and his Companion travel around to places of industrial note, both past and present. In this sense it is travelogue, but it is so much more.

The Commentary notes major developments in the country, and makes dry comment on the state of the nation and its Industry. This film visits both the empty Warehouses of Manchester and the New factories of the Midlands. It can almost be regarded as an essay on Britain in the mid 1990's.

Many have described this film as egocentric and boring, and I can see why. It is shot almost entirely as stills, there is no acting, and there are no characters beyond the commentary. However to me this was a refreshing piece of film making. It was incredibly well observed, and comes pretty close to defining what it is to live in this country. I suspect, however, that for anyone who lives outside the UK this will just be boring, you have to be able to relate to the places on the screen.

However, if this appeals even slightly take the opportunity to see this film, before its forgotten. I loved it, and I will never forget it.

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14 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

A delightfully weird view of the English provinces

Author: gray4 from Somerset, England
16 August 2004

This is a lovely film, narrated perfectly by Paul Scofield. Robinson and the narrator take seven tours of the English provinces, emulating Defoe's tours two centuries ago. You never see the travellers but they discover an awful lot about England that you probably never wanted to know - but are never boring. The superbly shot scenes of a changing industrial landscape are largely still - frozen in the 1990s and already remarkably dated, so that the film is already nostalgic, though only seven years old at the time of viewing. The commentary gives a detached perspective on England's industrial decline, as well as the occasional - and odd - glimpse into Robinson's private life and the mysterious company employing them to make these journeys on what might be a weird form of industrial espionage. The overall effect is to provide a strikingly different perspective on landscape, history and those who travel through them - a great success and all too short at 80 minutes.

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9 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

A fascinating film

Author: blackest_knight-1 from United Kingdom
7 April 2006

I caught this film on french satellite TV after being woke rather too early. it was my intent to go back to bed but this film had me hooked and I just had to watch to the end. Robinson dan l'espace it said on the epg and so I searched for and found the DVD and the earlier film London as a box set.

I can only tell you how this film held me gripped in fascination the film has a hypnotic quality that resonates. It is strange unlike anything I had ever seen before. I wanted to be able to stop the film and call my friends and share this experience with them. The Narrators comments revealed hidden secrets to a country I grew up in. Some places I had visited in the past as I travelled the country as a contractor most were a revelation.

This is not my kind of film. It is something I would not choose to watch but I felt like I should be making notes, investigating further. I missed the beginning and desperately want to see the whole film. Most of my friends are not native to this island and this film is something I know we will watch together repeatedly. It is a film that inspires it's not a tourist board view of England It's like the most intense briefing you could have of a country. I would be fascinated to see similar films made within different countries.

This film definitely has a wow factor that deserves a bigger audience. The only disappointment is that the DVD versions I have found do not have subtitles in any language which seems to be poor judgement on the part of the publishers.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

A gloriously hypnotic travelogue.

Author: Tweed-Chap from United Kingdom
9 November 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A glorious hypnotic travelogue through the industrial landscapes of Britain. Beautifully shot with a static camera, and gently narrated by Paul Schofield; who would have thought that scenes of lorries driving into distribution centres could be so visually charming?

The journey begins in Reading and ends in Newcastle upon Tyne with stops at travel lodges, shopping centres and factories mixed with the occasional cultural or historic location. It's also an excellent snapshot of the political climate of the time.

We never get to see Robinson or the narrator on their journey, but by the end of the film we feel as though we've learnt a bit about them along with a side of Britain we usually try to ignore.

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1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Not a map, but a deconstruction

Author: Polaris_DiB from United States
5 March 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

In sort of the tradition of Sans Soleil, a narrator and a mysterious, unshown character wander around London searching for what they already expect to find: lack of absolution and a post-modern depression. There's more of a narrative thread in this one than Chris Marker's epic travelogue, but many of the concerns are the same: the way space, time, memory, history, and geography are collapsed and immutable when viewed from the perspective of an erring camera. Robinson wants to be a spy, but James Bond is a Western fiction more disturbing than its happy endings. They want to visit Sherlock forest, but it's closed off by private property. Most architecture (Keiller is an architect) and photography is extremely rectilinear, and nowhere the two characters stay are very comfortable. Such speaks to the isolation of a spectator of London, a space not built linearly or really quite as open to tourism as other large city centers.

The story here is quite blink-and-you'll-miss-it. Robinson in Space is a visual essay that is familiar with academia and theory, and yet I've read too many responses to this that complain about it being an insufficient tour guide. Be aware that this is not a map of London (in the theoretical sense), but a deconstruction of it. People interested in discovering more about the mainstream culture and history of London are better off renting something else.


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2 out of 6 people found the following review useful:


Author: david-scott91 ( from newcastle, england
8 August 2004

this is one of the most rewarding films i have ever had the pleasure to watch [and watch regularly]. like London [its predecessor], we see no one other than those who just happen to be there, but linger on aspects of england that are dissected in the most erudite, humorous way, whilst also being politically and sociologically aware. wish i wasn't so sleepy writing this, as i'd like to do this work of genius more justice. these words are not enough by a long chalk.

is a 'robinson in [either] Scotland' or 'wales' [or europe] a likely possibility? need sleep so will stop.

as yet, these films are only available on VHS. a DVD is most overdue - perhaps as a double including both films.

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3 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Boring in a few places, much like England

Author: isoma-2 from Manchester, England
12 March 1999

So many still shots the few pans really impress. Shows lots of movement taken from the real world. Surprisingly, the pace does not seem excessively slow. Very witty narration.

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2 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

a film for someone who wants to hate film

Author: yourgoddess08 from United States
13 July 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Truly a disgrace to the film industry. I am disappointed to have seen it, and I consider it to be the worst film I have ever viewed. Yes, I have also seen Transformers.

Patrick Keiller's "Robinson in Space" is more or less a dully narrated, almost stream of consciousness, that could have come from a novel. A novel, as it were, written in journal form of one man's trek across England with his friend, Robinson. No characters are presented, no actors, nothing of particular interest other than simple, usually stationary, shots of landscape, buildings, and a few leaves. Usually, a connection can be made between the shot presented and the narrator's words, although this is not always the case. I have forgotten the plot, if there ever was one, as well as the ending, or why the narrator and Robinson were ever in England to begin with. I am afraid the point has lost me entirely, and the film seemed painfully long. The occasional panning shot was much like a breath of fresh air to a drowning man, and the film as a whole has given me a new appreciation for watching grass grow. In this respect, I thank the director deeply. I am told that the film reflects on the industrial state of England and the decline of employment. For the sake of those represented, I hope a better film has been made in their defense.

Save yourself the effort, and if anyone offers you this film, throw it back at them - hard.

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2 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

disliked this as much as I enjoyed the earlier, London, released in 1994

Author: christopher-underwood from United Kingdom
24 January 2008

I disliked this as much as I enjoyed the earlier, London, released in 1994. The reason, I think is that I know more about and care more about London, and much as the first film was almost gleefully depressing in its portrayal of a dead place under the Conservative party, I know the predictions were wrong. The London film remained interesting because of the difference between how it was seen by Keiller 15 years ago and how it is today. Whereas here I am less intimately involved with the various places depicted and Scofield's uninterested and expressionless verbalisation of the drivel of a soundtrack helped not a lot. It is also interesting to note that the general socialist drift of this film has also been shown to be wrong. All those sarcastic remarks about lack of British manufacturing and dark murmurings about the Japanese taking over, all seem irrelevant as an expanded service industry and tourism helped by cheaper imports from China and India, seems to have more than filled the gap.

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