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PLEASE NOTE: Michael D's is currently in READ ONLY MODE. Anything submitted will simply not be written to the database.
Lots of stuff is still broken, but at least reviews can now be looked up and read.
Of Time and the City (Directors Suite) (2008)

Of Time and the City (Directors Suite) (2008)

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Released 17-May-2010

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary Interviews-Crew-with director Terence Davies from ABC1's AT THE MOVIES
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Four Directors Suite trailers
Booklet-insert article by Dr. Brian McFarlane, Monash University
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2008
Running Time 73:38 (Case: 72)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (44:20) Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Terence Davies

Madman Entertainment
Starring Terence Davies
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $34.95 Music None Given

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Unknown English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English Alternate Subtitles
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

†††† Terence Davies was born in Liverpool, England in 1945. He lived in the famous working-class port city until he was 25. Of Time and the City is a documentary which looks at his memories, cherished and bittersweet, through images, stock footage and his voiceover narration, with a classical and contemporary musical soundtrack.

†††† Known for his autobiographical 1988 feature film, Distant Voices, Still Lives, which contained similar themes to this documentary, Davies has not worked on a film since The House of Mirth, released in 2000. With this film he told his producers Solon Papadopoulos and Roy Boulterhe that he wanted to move away from works of fiction and try a documentary. Of Time and the City is subtitled 'a love song and a eulogy' which means that the film is a personal and nostalgic look at the Liverpool that Davies recollects.

†††† The themes here are personal as Davies can come across, through his rhythmic narration, as critical and sarcastic towards the issues that affected him growing up, such as his strict Catholic upbringing and his later loss of faith, his emergent homosexuality, even his put down of the Royal coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. Davies' passions would always single him out from a typical Liverpudlian from his era, for he certainly does not have a working-class Liverpudlian accent and he uses classical music and 1950s pop music for his soundtrack. The Beatles are dismissed in a quick-witted put-down and don't expect to see anything about Liverpool football club either.

†††† Of Time and the City was released to universal critical acclaim out of competition at Cannes 2008. Time Out stated, "The one truly great movie to emerge so far (from Cannes) has been Terence Daviesí Of Time and the City; itís not only this writer who considers it some kind of masterpiece... this film is as personal, as universal in its relevance, and as gloriously cinematic as anything he has done." The Guardian added, "Davies' film is made of old documentary footage, brilliantly illuminated by music and his commentary. It intertwines Davies' own story with the story of the redevelopment of his home town of Liverpool. It pivots around a sequence that shows utopian tower blocks being built and then falling into decay, to the tune of Peggy Lee singing The Folks That Live on the Hill. It's an elegant, angry sequence that tells a story recognisable to anyone who grew up in a city after the war." Accolades continued with The Daily Telegraph critic declaring, "For my money, this is a British masterpiece, a brilliant assemblage of images that illuminate our past. Not only does it tug the heart-strings but it's also savagely funny." "Thereís a similarity of tone to James Masonís narration in the 1967 film The London Nobody Knows, another portrait of a changing city that would make a rewarding double bill with this regret-filled love letter to Liverpool." wrote The Times.

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Transfer Quality


†††† The film is derived from black-and-white and colour newsreels and stock footage from the 1940s and 1950s so the transfer does contain images of degraded quality.

†††† The aspect ratio is 1:78:1, 16x9 enhanced. The average bitrate is 7.71 m/b per sec. The video transfer reveals that it is a port of the Region 2 BFI release on DVD.

†††† Colour varies from grainy black-and-white to archival colour footage to pristine digital shots. The film is over three-quarters derived from archived sources which have been cropped from a 4:3 full-frame transfer.

†††† The stock footage used contains film artefacts such as dirt, dust specks, lines across the image and film grain.

†††† Subtitles are provided for the hard of hearing in white or yellow.

†††† The RSDL change occurs at 44:20 during a scene change that fades to black.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


†††† The audio transfer consists of Davies' narration, classical and 1950s pop music and some background effects such as the sound of fire during the scenes depicting Guy Fawkes Night on the 5th of November.

†††† The main soundtrack is in English. It is encoded in Dolby Digital 2.0 at 224 kbps. Terrence Davies' voiceover commentary is clear throughout the film. There are no synchronisation issues as dialogue is not presented on-screen.

†††† Musical references include Consolation No.3 In D Flat Major (Franz Liszt), Music for the Royal Fireworks (George Frideric Handel), He Ainít Heavy Heís My Brother (by The Hollies), The Folks Who Live on the Hill (performed by Peggy Lee), Concertino for Guitar and Orchestra in A Minor Opus 72 (Salvador Bacarisse) and Symphony No.2 in C minor - "Resurrection" (Gustav Mahler).

†††† The Dolby 2.0 stereo track is clear and dynamic (especially for classical music tracks). There is good separation between the two front speakers. The subwoofer is not utilised.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


Interview with director Terence Davies from ABC1's AT THE MOVIES (6:44)

†††† Terence Davies is interviewed here by David Stratton from At the Movies. They discuss their common English upbringing and the themes from the film.

Theatrical Trailer (2:13)

†††† The original trailer features Terence Davies' narration over the film's main musical theme, Franz Liszt's Consolation No.3 In D Flat Major.

Directors Suite trailers

†††† Four Directors Suite trailers feature Guy Maddin's My Winnipeg, Peter Brook's Lord of the Flies, Michael Winterbottom's Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story and Errol Morris' Mr Death: The Rise and Fall of Fred A. Leuchter Jr.

Insert article by Dr. Brian McFarlane, Adjunct Associate Professor, School of English, Communication and Performance Studies, Monash University

†††† This 16-page essay by Dr McFarlane discusses the film in context, Davies and British cinema, the autobiographical nature of Davies' films during his cinematic career, a comparison to the realism of directors such as John Grierson, Lindsay Anderson and Tony Richardson, the poetic references used in the film such as to A.E. Housman and T.S. Eliot, changes in Liverpool since the 1940s and the look and sound of the film.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

†††† Of Time and the City has been released in Region 1 in the United States. Extras include interviews with Terence Davies, producers Roy Boulter and Sol Papadopoulos, executive producer Lisa Marie Russo and editor Liza Ryan-Carter. Other featurettes include On the Set with Terence Davies, In the Editing Room with Terence Davies and Highlights, which are out-takes and the theatrical trailer. Overall, the extras run for about 36 minutes.

†††† The Region 2 BFI United Kingdom release has more substantive extras. Firstly, there's The Making of Of Time and the City (45:37) which has interviews with Terence Davies, producers Roy Boulter and Sol Papadopoulos, and archive producer Jim Anderson. Secondly, Davies provides an introduction to the 1942 film by Humphrey Jennings and Stewart McAllister, Listen to Britain, included here, which inspired the making of Davies' documentary (20:28). Q&A with Terence Davies (19:06) is an interview from interviewer Bill Lawrence and an audience at a Q&A at the Cambridge Arts Picturehouse, the theatrical trailer and finally a 22-page booklet with an essay on the film by Matthew Gandy, a positive critique by Jason Wood, an article by photographer Bernard Fallon, a retrospective look at Davies' cinematic career by Geoff Andrew, a biography, credits for the film, and some production stills.

†††† The Region 2 BFI UK release, with its quality extras, is the best available Regional release of Terence Davies' Of Time and the City currently available.


†††† Terence Davies has mainly used his upbringing as a source for his fictional films during his cinematic career. Of Time and the City is inspired by his 1988 feature Distant Voices, Still Lives.

†††† Despite the universal acclaim, this film is not for everyone. Personally, I found the biting sarcasm of Davies' voiceover narration unappealing, and I couldn't empathise at all with Davies' background and his love of classical music in preference to The Beatles. After all, this is a documentary on Liverpool.

Ratings (out of 5)


© John Stivaktas (I like my bio)
Monday, June 28, 2010
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S550 (Firmware updated Version 020), using HDMI output
DisplaySamsung LA46A650 46 Inch LCD TV Series 6 FullHD 1080P 100Hz. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderSony STR-K1000P. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationSony HTDDW1000
SpeakersSony 6.2 Surround (Left, Front, Right, Surround Left, Surround Back, Surround Right, 2 subwoofers)

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