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LONDON

UK, 1993 (MIFF 1994, Architecture Programme)

Director: Patrick Keiller

"The true identity of London is in its absence. As a city, it no longer exists. In this alone it is truly modern: London was the first metropolis to disappear ."

Rather like following literary, artistic and architectural songlines of European culture, London maps the historical, spatial, political and personal terrain of a capital city in decline. It's 1992 - the year of the surprise re-election of John Major as Prime Minister; the renewal of the IRA bombing campaign in England; the 'fall of the House of Windsor'; the plummeting pound, and various other scandals both sexual and financial. A fictional narrator returns to the city after an absence of seven years, crisscrosses London on foot with his companion, constantly distracted from his unspecified research into the past by events of the present day.

A series of journeys through the sites of coincidence, contradiction, history and cultural specificity in search of a metropolis and its people, London takes you from Edgar Allan Poe to the Notting Hill Carnival, from the memoirs of a Russian socialist in exile ("There is no town in the world which is more adapted for training one away from people and training one into solitude than London") to the largest shopping mall in the north.

At times angry, often mocking, Patrick Keiller draws a portrait of the city as it is and at the same time re-invents it, re-imagines it. He has constructed an expansive and intelligent documentary fiction (along similar lines to Chris Marker's Sans Soleil) that redesigns London's past and gives a fascinating insight into the changing nature of its future.

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