Archive for the ‘film’ Category

The above footage includes a pageant at Wavertree in 1907. It’s taken from a video we’ve looked at several times and well worth a watch. The footage below is of this year’s Brouaha parade down Princes Road. In years to come such material will be archive history. These days there are so many millions of photos and videos being taken everyday of ordinary, everyday life it will be extremely difficult for historians and others to go through them. On the other hand, they’ll be able to  gain a far more accurate impression of life in 2011 than we can of life a hundred years ago.   Every image we record is towards making history.



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As well as looking at how literature is a way of recording history (particularly in Herman Melville’s Redburn and, soon, the writings of Liverpool working class author, George Garrett), we have been watching film representations of the city. Last week we saw a collection of British Pathe newspeels documenting the early years of the twentieth century. These were fascinating, and what we noticed most of all was their emphasis on royalty, famous personages, patriotism and a sense of togetherness as if everybody took the view ‘we are all in this together’. We then looked at the moving sequence of Boys from the Blackstuff where Chrissie wheels George towards the Baltic Fleet for a pint with the lads, through the decay and destruction of the South Docks, so celebrated as part of Liverpool’s greatness in the Pathe films.

Watching the films gave us the chance to see how representing the city has changed for several reasons, importantly the massive opening to working class ‘bottom up’ representations since the 1950s, and also, importantly, the opportunities that new technologies in production have afforded.

Finally, we watched the opening sequences of Terence Davies’s Of Time and the City and discussed the ways in which music, poetry, autobiography, archive footage could all be blended together to present new and exciting ways of representation.

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Of all the poets who are connected with Liverpool, perhaps the greatest is C.P.Cavafy, a twentieth century Greek cultural icon, although he was born in Alexandria. From a wealthy family, his father had business interests in Egypt, London and Liverpool. After his father’s death, Cavafy’s mother brought him in 1872 at the age of nine to Liverpool where he spent part of his childhood being educated. He lived first in Balmoral Road, then when the family firm crashed, he lived in poorer circumstances in Huskisson Street.

One of his most famous poems is The City which is reproduced below. Since Cavafy had roots in Alexandria, Greece, Constantinople (Istanbul), Paris and London, his city -although most influenced by  Alexandria where he was known as ‘the poet of the city’ – his city in the poem could be any city.

The City

You said, “I will go to another land, I will go to another sea.

Another city will be found, better than this.

Every effort of mine is condemned by fate;

and my heart is — like a corpse — buried.

How long in this wasteland will my mind remain.

Wherever I turn my eyes, wherever I may look

I see the black ruins of my life here,

where I spent so many years, and ruined and wasted.”

New lands you will not find, you will not find other seas.

The city will follow you. You will roam the same

streets. And you will age in the same neighborhoods;

in these same houses you will grow gray.

Always you will arrive in this city. To another land — do not hope —

there is no ship for you, there is no road.

As you have ruined your life here

in this little corner, you have destroyed it in the whole world.

Sir Sean Connery backed by music of Vangelis go to make for a sugary sweet version of Ithaca; again, it seems more than about a particular place or set of myths. Coming from a great seaport such as Liverpool, it resonates the more.

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A Mythophone at the Bluecoat

Last week we walked to the Bluecoat and enjoyed a coffee in the courtyard. We were sitting surrounded by the history of the wonderfully preserved former school, one of the oldest buildings in Liverpool, and now a thriving arts centre. In the centre of the gardens here we came across a mythophone:

We’d also discovered one earlier at St Lujes, the bombed-out church that stands as a memorial to the Blitz, and is also a centre for film and arts venues:

By coincidence, we are planning something along the same lines: to make and edit recordings to form ‘soundscapes’ with a mix of ambient sound, music and speech. Yesterday we went to the Roman Catholic end of Hope Street with the recorder set on four channel surround mode, and listening through the headphones was very weird! A bit dizzying at first, you hear the world in an utterly different way, find it difficult to make sense of all the many sounds coming in together. We’re used to normal hearing and we ‘filter’ sounds in our mind. That keeps us sane but at the same time we are missing a lot of what is all around us. The same goes for seeing: we miss most of what is to be seen by ‘filtering out’ most of it. The same is true of history as a whole.

We did a quick session with  Audacity, the free download of a sound editor. Over the coming weeks we’ll pick up more skills and come up with ideas for producing materials using sound, video and still photography to explore unusual ways of representing Hope Street.

We’ll also be contributing to the BBC’s ‘Save Our Sounds’ project which aims to map the world with sounds in danger of becoming extinct.

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Our sister site Spiderphoto will shortly be publishing a video called Passed Tense. The idea was that people recall a section of their life, represent this in a composite photograph, and talk over the photograph explaining the memories evoked. One of the images is that of Stephen’s shown here. In a longer version of his talking than in the video, he reflects upon how memory, rather than being a simple mirror of the past, is edited and constructed – sometimes contradicting actual events. You can hear Stephen’s interview here, or you can hear it here while looking at the image as it is slowly revealed.

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Mark reads John Masefield’s poem, Hell’s Pavements . You can read the words in the anthology we’re beginning. Click on the Liverpool and Literature button: it’s the first item.

The video for this reading was shot off a Mersey ferry and we put an ‘aged film ‘filter on it to make it look as old as Mark (!)

“The Thames is a wretched river after the Mersey and the ships are not like Liverpool ships and the docks are barren of beauty … it is a beastly hole after Liverpool; for Liverpool is the town of my heart and I would rather sail a mudflat there than command a clipper out of London”

John Masefield

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Modern Times

We looked at the video in the previous post and discussed time pressures, how hard it is to simply relax. Those who went to relaxation classes say how good they are in helping to slow down and how good you feel after. We talked about whether the pressures on us our new or something that people from the past experienced too. Someone mentioned Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times so here it is!

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