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Elegy for the Elswick Envoy (2007)

Elegy for the Elswick Envoy Poster
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Artist Nancy Willis's quest to find just the right home for her much loved but exhausted car - the remarkable Elswick Envoy. A witty and moving double portrait of a unique vehicle and its owner.

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Cast

Credited cast:
Tony Heaton ... Himself
Martha Leskard ... Herself
Lord Montagu of Beaulieu ... Himself
Nancy Willis ... Herself
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Storyline

Disabled artist Nancy Willis is in search of a home for her much loved, but aging car - the Elswick Envoy. This unique small car was designed to be driven directly from a wheelchair. Launched in the early 1980's only two hundred were ever made. Nancy's distinctive red version is one of the last survivors of this rare breed. As she prepares to take possession of an ultramodern adapted Renault, Nancy sets out on a mission to ensure that her Elswick will not vanish without trace from motoring history. In this personal road movie, Nancy can see her own struggle for continuing mobility mirrored in the increasingly unreliable performance of her battered old car. This witty and moving film is a fitting tribute and final farewell to a distinguished old friend. Written by Willis, Nancy

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Documentary

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22 April 2007 (UK)  »

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1.50 : 1
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Interesting personal film but didn't really build on that aspect to any real degree
12 May 2007 | by See all my reviews

For well over a decade Nancy Willis has been able to enjoy a life of independence thanks to the sterling service of her Elswich Envoy – a car that can be driven from an electric wheelchair.. As it nears the end of its life, Nancy tries to find a fitting final resting home for her car while also reflecting on the freedom and importance the car held for her in her life.

Shown on channel four as part of their New Shoots season of short films from disabled directors, this is a rather personal film that is perhaps strengthened and weakened by this. The film was interesting for me because I can relate to Willis' emotions as I have also parted company with a very old car (1987 Nissan Sunny) that held a great personal meaning for me despite being, lets be honest, a piece of junk in the eyes of all those up to their eyes in debt trying to have the most modern cars they can get. In the same way as Willis I upgraded out of necessity but did feel an element of guilt for giving up on something that had given so much for me in favour of a newer, shinier model – like dumping a loyal wife for a young secretary. So maybe this was why I quite liked this film because, to be honest this was also its undoing.

As she was also the director of the film, Willis doesn't do that good a job of stepping away from herself and looking at the wider meaning of cars for disabled drivers. To me this should have been the focus of the film, with her personal situation being the foundation it is built on; this would have been of much more interest and also value in regards raising awareness among able-bodied viewers. As it was though it was still interesting enough as a personal elegy, it was just a shame that it stayed at this level and didn't really build on it to any degree.


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