DVD Review: Of Time and the City

Terence Davies’ eulogy to the Liverpool of his birth is both inaccessible and interesting in its reverent, almost funereal tone. Running a little over an hour, the documentary’s twin stars, as pointed out by its title—the city, and the inexorable forward march of time—are on display, and in competition with one another for screen time, the whole way through. The film is something of a reflection upon Davies’ semi-biographical Distant Voices, Still Lives (1987) but here, as Monash University Prof. Brian McFarlane points out in his accompanying essay, “the personal displaces the fictional.”

Elements of Davies’ life intertwine throughout the film, among them his religious upbringing, his sexuality and his obsession, from a very young age, with the silver screen. Set to a fittingly sombre, melancholic soundtrack and delivered in a deeply worshipful (almost sermonic) tone, the film never wavers, even when the director-narrator occasionally over-romanticises his memories of events, places, and people.