(2004 TV Short)

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A touching and interesting film about communities and the nameless eccentric characters that we have in all our towns and cities
bob the moo29 October 2004
This documentary looks at the town of Edgware and the legend of the Edgware Walker. No matter what the weather the Walker can always be seen walking around the area, going through bins etc but always wearing nothing but a pair of shorts/pants and an old pair of trainers. Director Lee Kern tries to get to the root of the legend and get past the stories where the Walker is known as a surgeon who lost his wife and also has a degenerative bone disease where, if he stops walking his bones will waste away. However when the Walker dies, Kern discovers a man driven by a commitment to his dead father.

Every area has a character who everyone knows. Usually they are a homeless guy or an eccentric 'nutter' who everybody has seen or heard about and occasionally, a legend will spring up around this person. For me, when I lived in Wolverhampton for three or four years there was a homeless guy with a massive beard who could be seen walking around the town all day. What he was actually well known for was the fact that he lived in the grassy verge between a dual carriageway in a tent with basic gas heating and stove – how he bought gas canisters I'll never know and how he survived I'd never guess (he is still there today). Anyway, Kern talks to many residents of the area about the Walker and it is fun to hear their stories all crossover a little bit, but what is even better is to see the genuine sense of loss on their faces when Kern tells them that the Walker has died.

In a way the film works on several levels. On one level the film is about the characters that we all see as homeless but generally try to ignore or laugh at them. It shows us that they do have stories and do have lives behind the eccentricities; certainly the actual 'truth' about Dr Stefan Hassan (the Walker) is quite moving even if it doesn't totally explain his semi-nudity! On another level the film is generally about communities and what makes them up – they are not just closed doors and people living separate lives, they are also shared events, stories, characters, places. To some the Walker was just a tramp, a crazy homeless guy but he was part of the community and Kern does well to convey this feeling. He doesn't sound pretentious when talking about the Walker being a comfortable person to see, a rock of ages in a way, when really he could have sounded like a fool!

Overall this is a very interesting documentary and one that is really worth hunting down. It is about a man who was eccentric and has since died, but has left his mark on the community of Edgware having played a big part in its recent history in both reality and legend. Aside from this the film is also an insight into communities generally and is interesting as such. A genuine surprise this film – well worth hunting down but I suspect it will be hard to get your hands on.
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