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Of Time and the City (2008)

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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 1,407 users   Metascore: 81/100
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A filmmaker looks at the history and transformation of his birthplace, Liverpool, England.



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Director: Terence Davies


Uncredited cast:
Himself / Narrator (voice) (uncredited)


Terence Davies (1945- ), filmmaker and writer, takes us, sometimes obliquely, to his childhood and youth in Liverpool. He's born Catholic and poor; later he rejects religion. He discovers homo-eroticism, and it's tinged with Catholic guilt. Enjoying pop music gives way to a teenage love of Mahler and Wagner. Using archival footage, we take a ferry to a day on the beach. Postwar prosperity brings some positive change, but its concrete architecture is dispiriting. Contemporary colors and sights of children playing may balance out the presence of unemployment and persistent poverty. Davies' narration is a mix of his own reflections and the poems and prose of others. Written by <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

mahler | beach | ferry | youth | religion | See All (59) »


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Release Date:

31 October 2008 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Az idő és a város  »

Box Office


$500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$5,595 (USA) (23 January 2009)


$32,551 (USA) (8 May 2009)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs




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Did You Know?


The Hippy Hippy Shake
(Chan Romero)
Published by EMI Music Publishing Ltd
Performed by The Swinging Blue Jeans
Licensed courtesy of EMI Records Ltd.
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User Reviews

Thoughtful and engrossing. Bitter but not twisted.
8 July 2009 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

I'm not from Liverpool, Scots actually, but have lived alongside it for forty years and it is one of the most fascinating cities architecturally, politically, socially and historically that one can come across. Even today its image and the mere mention of the name Liverpool can split the UK into two opposing factions. It has provided this country with some of the best (and some of the worst!) politicians, singers,poets, musicians, writers, statesmen, sportsmen and women, comedians, medicos, name it! It also had the blight of some of the worst housing, past and modern. It's had to put up with the blinkered meddling of inner-city planners since the fifties trying to rip the heart out of this jewel of a city. Fortunately some 'good men and true' had the vision and foresight from the 70's onwards to put the brakes on some of the excesses. But unforgivably, those inner-city planners took Scottie Road to the knackers yard instead of putting it out to stud.

Terence Davies casts a weary and at times tearful eye over the broad expanse of the city that shaped him. His homosexuality and the trauma that his deep catholic upbringing imposed on him made him a cynic. But that is not a bad thing. Cynicism is part of all of us and Davies imbibes his cynicism with mistrust and love and affection for a city that is in his marrow. Like the Scots, all true Liverpudlians, where e're they travel, are products of their upbringing and are never ashamed to admit it.

Watch this film with the sound off and it merely becomes a travelogue of the best and worst of this place. Watch and listen to Davies's commentary though, and the film takes on a vibrancy that fairly pulsates. Liverpool, through this film, becomes a city that breeds high blood pressure. For every beautiful building there is a slum, for every shopping mall there is a 'Bluecoat Chambers', for every wino begging on the subway there is a wisecracking Scouser trying to sell you something on the open-air markets, for every tragedy there is a joyous moment, for every factory that closes there is an entrepreneur starting up.

This polyglot of a city breathes..and it breathes life into its people. Walk down some of the old original cobbled alleys off Dale Street or Whitechapel (how did the planners miss them!!) and you can hear this city despairingly whisper into your ear.."Don't forget me!"

Davies captures the city and its contradictions and does it beautifully through his careful choice of film and especially through his words.

For him it's a love affair and like all such things there is hurt, despair, complacency, anger and moments of pure joy. He can hate his city with a vengeance but it flows through his veins. He knows it and he knows he'll never escape from it.

This is HIS Valentines card to HIS city and he has signed his name on it.

For the rest of us, this is Liverpool drawn on a wide canvas but in such sharp detail that it needs more than one viewing.

Highly recommended.

6 of 8 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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