Heralding a return to cinema after an eight-year absence, Of Time and the City saw Terence Davies journeying back to the creatively autobiographic poetics of Distant Voices, Still Lives (1988) and The Long Day Closes (1992) to (re)create the Liverpool of his youth in a deeply moving archival-collage documentary.
An essential film of time and place (or time as place), this personal and historical excavation exists between documentary, essay film and the play of memory; an essential part of Davies’ filmography, very few directors can conjure the sweep of social commentary with such elegiac lyricism.
Acting as his own narrator, Davies’ voiceover brings a sullen comedy, knowing theatrically and trademark musicality to the central drama of remembering.
Drifting from nostalgic reverie into colder moments of dislocation, Of Time and the City becomes is ultimately as much of a portrait of its director as it is of Liverpool, evoking a troubled, multi-layered story of both love and pain within a changing city.
A triumphant return to filmmaking by its director, Of Time and the City would kickstart the second phase of Davies’ illustrious career.
This film is screening at Tyneside Cinema as a part of our season Living as Poetry: A Tribute to Terence Davies which you can learn more about here!