Patrick Keiller’s London

In my recent tutorial I commented that I found Keiller’s Robinson in Ruins a hard watch. My tutor suggested that his ‘London’ (1994) was a more interesting one to watch. This I did on the BFI viewer.

An interview with Keiller and further information about the film is on the BFI’s website: https://www2.bfi.org.uk/news-opinion/news-bfi/interviews/patrick-keiller-london-robinson-trilogy.

There is a melancholy in the work that carries from the sentiments in the narrative to the backing music. To me the atmosphere centres around difficulty in determining the identity of London – at one point Keiller suggests that it is absent. Perhaps the reason for a sense of absence is that there are many voices clamouring to state its identity and meaning, undermining any singular sense of identity. As clever and insightful as the narrative is, I found 1 hour 40 minutes of melancholy hard to digest.

I my own work, I’m thinking more about the sound as the images are now settled. I listened carefully to how the narrative was layered with the background sound, relative volumes play a part in the separation but the volume differences are not as pronounced as I’d expected. Separation in the stereo space is also important. On occasions it seems that additional ambient sound is added to reference a subject in the image – however, this is not done with a frequency that allow predictability. The ambient sound features throughout the film and is more present than in my own work; I’d already been thinking that there didn’t seem to be quite enough sound in the latest edit (v3).

I’ve learned more about effective use of ambient sound alongside narrative by watching this film.