Saturday, February 14, 2009

A Liverpool Lullaby

It's occasionally illuminating to learn how an international audience perceives the city of Liverpool, or at least a particular aspect of it. A case in point is provided by the San Francisco Examiner's review of Terence Davies' celluloid ode to the Liverpool of yesteryear, "Of Time and the City" ( ):
"Davies combines archival pictures, news footage, pop tunes, classical music and radio clips, and coalesces everything with his own voiceover, to relate the evolution of Liverpool from 1945 to 1973 (when he lived there) and beyond."
The Examiner's reviewer, Anita Katz, finds it noteworthy that Davies is dismissive of the Beatles' music. What should be understood, however, is that Davies was born a decade or so before the Fab Four, so was not of that generation to be swept up in the Merseybeat phenomenon; his musical influences would have come from the pre-rock 'n' roll era, of big bands, crooners, as well as classical pieces.
I haven't seen Davies' film, but I suspect it's of a piece with his other films about life in the city (repressed homosexuality, Catholic guilt, unashamed nostalgia, etc.). There is, of course, nothing questionable about those concerns per se, but, like Beryl Bainbridge's curmudgeonly & downright cranky conviction that the Beatles represented not an apogee of local musical culture, but a nadir, Davies' sepia-tinted wallowings have nothing to say or contribute about the city over the last three decades.

ERRATUM: Terence Davies was actually born in 1945, contrary to my statement that he belonged to the generation born a decade or so earlier than the Beatles. Mea Culpa, Mea Maxima Mea Culpa.

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