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Metro-Land (1973)

TV Movie  -   -  Documentary  -  26 February 1973 (UK)
8.3
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Ratings: 8.3/10 from 31 users  
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John Betjeman gives a guided tour of the Metropolitan Line from Baker Street in London to Verney Junction in Buckinghamshire, and of architecture of the suburbs and villages that grew up ... See full summary »

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Title: Metro-Land (TV Movie 1973)

Metro-Land (TV Movie 1973) on IMDb 8.3/10

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John Betjeman gives a guided tour of the Metropolitan Line from Baker Street in London to Verney Junction in Buckinghamshire, and of architecture of the suburbs and villages that grew up along its length since the line was opened in the 1890s. Written by Anonymous

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26 February 1973 (UK)  »

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Quite interesting but with an understandably limited appeal
25 April 2007 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Metro-Land refers to an ideal of commuting where communities and homes sprung up along the Metropolitan line that ran from Baker Street in London through to Verney Junction in Buckinghamshire. Poet Laureate John Betjeman travels out from London to explore the communities that sprung up as part of Metro-Land.

A peculiar piece this and one that is understandably little seen since its original broadcast and thereabouts. Repeated recently on BBC4 as part of a night of films and programmes looking at trains and the underground, I gave this a try because of the presence of Betjeman. I did half expect a documentary about the creation of the communities as the Metropolitan line spread out, but this is not what the film is. Instead it is a meandering walk through random parts of random towns that sees very ornate golf clubs, middle-class homes, local pageants (every girl's dream apparently) and so on. It is less a documentary than it is a poetic wander through a place that I have never experienced but is unmistakably England.

For this reason it will have limited appeal to a modern audience. Like fellow reviewer MacIntyre has said, to really enjoy the film you do need to live in Southern England and be old enough to be nostalgic for this or be a complete Anglophile. I am neither of these and accordingly I didn't find it as engaging as I would have liked. That said though, Betjeman's style held my attention – although for many younger viewers (?) he will intolerably slow and old fashioned as a presenter.

A curio of a film then that is delivered in a style that doesn't really exist any more about places and people who don't really exist any more. It isn't that strong a film by any means but if you watch it on these terms and have an interest in the period and people.


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