I introduced the screening of Patrick Keiller’s third film featuring the itinerant scholar Robinson, for Peninsula Arts, at Jill Craigie Cinema, Plymouth University:
“In conversation at Watershed in Bristol earlier this year, Patrick Keiller described how he set out with a camera to find answers to some questions about moving image and the history of settlement in the British landscape. That expedition became the film you’re about to see: an investigation into notions of dwelling, of belonging to the landscape, and an exploration of land ownership in Britain.
Keiller says he wanted to find out why people are so interested in looking at landscape, and asks: Why do people love looking at a beautiful view? And, to whom does the land belong?
We took a trip to Bristol to hear Patrick Keiller talk at Watershed in Bristol.
Keiller’s approach to documentary is highly influential – the locked-off framing of London and his thoughts on the filmmaker as contemporary flâneur resonate with Cinematic City and the earlier Sea Front. Keiller addresses Martin Heidegger’s concept of ‘dwelling’ and people’s almost instinctive (or is it habitual?) preference for the homely, the cozy. Plymouth’s city centre was flattened and redeveloped after World War Two and generates a strong reaction – the urban planning and architecture is on a scale beyond the domestic and maybe feels inhospitable to some people, or perhaps the clearance caused a rupture in the human history of the place. Meanwhile to the east of Plymouth farmland is being bulldozed to create a new Poundbury-style neo-Georgian toy-town. Prince Charles wants to “build again the types of places we all know strike a chord in our, by now, rather bewildered hearts, however ‘modern’ we are – places that convey an everlasting human story of meaning and belonging”.