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Of Time and the City (2008)

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A filmmaker looks at the history and transformation of his birthplace, Liverpool, England.


Terence Davies


Terence Davies
2 wins & 11 nominations. See more awards »



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Uncredited cast:
Terence Davies ... 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 <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

mahler | beach | ferry | religion | poem | See All (57) »


Not Rated | See all certifications »






Release Date:

31 October 2008 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Del tiempo y la ciudad See more »


Box Office


$500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

£57,195 (United Kingdom), 2 November 2008, Limited Release

Opening Weekend USA:

$5,595, 25 January 2009, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$32,551, 10 May 2009
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs



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Did You Know?


Elizabethan Serenade
Written by Ronald Binge
Performed by Ronald Binge
Publishing and Performance rights licensed courtesy of Universal Publishing Production Music.
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User Reviews

A great disappointment
15 January 2009 | by RedcitykevSee all my reviews

On BBC TV there is a regular half-hour programme called 'Grumpy Old Men', on which the likes of Arthur Smith, Noddy Holder, and others - within the 45-60+ group - let rip about the state of modern society and, usually, how it was so much better in their days. After watching this diatribe from Mr Davis it would not surprise me to see him turning up on a later series of the programme due to the fact that this film, poetic as it may have been, came across as no better than a glorified 76 minute version of it.

This is not to say that the film does not have its moments, because it most certainly does. When he is riling against the British Monachy, or religion - the Catholic church in particular, the film comes alive even if you disagree with what he is saying, maybe even finding it offensive. But the trouble with the film is that these moments are few and far between, and too much time is taken up with dull, pointless views of dull, pointless buildings, often making blindingly obvious points that have been many times before (yes, we know the high-rise homes very quickly disintegrated into slums that were no better, and often worse, then those back-to-back terrace houses they replaced).

When it came to the people of Liverpool the shots he included again seemed to be those we have seen 100's of times before on other, better, documentaries about the city. Kiddies playing in the streets, playgrounds full of swings and slides etc, etc... yes, yes, we know it was all so much better then - apart from the increased infant deaths, illnesses caused by poverty and poor diet etc! Then comes the music! How can Mr Davis dismiss the Beatles and the whole of the Mersey sound in just a few fleeting moments, and pretty damning moments as well. Does he not realise that these pop/rock groups, along with Liverpool and Everton FC's, did more to put the city of Liverpool on the map, rising its profile across the globe and helping it to recover its pride and place in the world following on from the collapse of its traditional industries than any other thing? The legacy of that period is still felt today, be it in the eternal popularity of the Beatles and other groups from the 1960's, the modern classical stylings of Sir Paul McCartney, McCartney's legacy to the city in LIPA, or the recent pop and rock sounds of such groups as The Zutons etc, and this is something that Mr Davis should have acknowledged in this film.

Before watching this film I had viewed the new Clint Eastwood film 'Changeling', which has a running time of some 2 1/2 hours, yet that film seemed to last about half that time, whilst this film runs for just over 76 minutes and yet seemed much, much longer. Mr Davis is a very talented film maker, as films like 'The Long Day Closes' have shown, and surely it was not beyond his fierce-some intellect to create a fictional film in which his sentiments could have been expressed in a much more entertaining way. Maybe now he has got all this off his chest he will get back to doing what he does best and give us a film worthy of his talents next time round.

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