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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
Of Time and the City is a nostalgic look at the history of Liverpool, England. Terence Davies is a well known British director and he made this film as an examination of his childhood and what it was like growing up in Liverpool. He dabbles in Christianity, homo-eroticism, and lots of classical music. He examines just how all of this affected him and what it meant to him in the context of Liverpool. The film is told through archival footage and Terence Davies' narration which is a mix of bitter yet telling. This is obviously a very personal film for Davies, yet I myself can't relate in the slightest. Maybe you have to be 60 years old and from Liverpool to really understand this film and understand Davies' intentions. I'm neither of these things so this film did nothing for me.
In a nutshell I just don't understand the purpose of this film. It is Terence Davies reliving his childhood and the things which have made him into what he is today. He does so eloquently and poetically, yet it doesn't make any more relevant to me or any more interesting to watch. The film is very dull and can easily lull you to sleep. There is little to this film if you can't relate to anything going on. I'm not saying that in order for a film to be good you have to be able to relate to it on some level, but if you can't then the film should at least be well made and compelling. Of Time and the City is not very interesting and its only about as well made as a small film like this can be.
Creating an entire film out of narration, piano music, and archival footage just doesn't make for a terribly interesting film. Of Time and the City is not visually striking and everything being discussed doesn't strike any notes with me. The film is very stagnant as it switches between footage with narration over it to footage with music over it. The visuals seem fairly relevant while Davies narrates, but then they become random and meaningless when the music is played over them. At this point it really just feels like filler, something a 74 minute film doesn't need.
Maybe I just completely missed the point of Of Time and the City, or maybe you have to have a very specific background and interest to enjoy this film. I feel like if you are out of the "target audience" like myself then your chances of enjoying this film are dashed. This film did nothing emotionally for me and I was nothing but bored for an hour and fourteen minutes.
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