Top positive review
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When the past, the present and the future meet up
on 14 February 2005
A unique library of old and modern photographs are put under threat when the building they are housed in is suddenly sold. The new owner of the property, Liam Cunningham played by the able Christopher Anderson, has no interest in the photos and doesn't care what happens to them. In fact most of the photos will be destroyed with the crème de la crème of the collection being sold on. All Liam is interested in is renovating the building and making a hefty profit for the business he represents.
However the library's many eccentric employees won't give up without a fight and from then on a war of wits and determination is played out among a wonderful array of black and white photographs that represent the past, the present and even the future.
The characters in this film are truly delightful, especially Timothy Spall who plays the oddball Oswald Bates, a man with a memory for faces so attuned that he can see resemblances between a person he has only seen once and those whose pictures are imprinted upon photographic paper.
However the battle to save the collection seems doomed, with every attempt the Library staff makes being thwarted but fate has something wonderful in store for Liam Cunningham and it is this wonderful twist in the story that ultimately will save the collection for future generations.
This is a fabulous film, originally a three part series for the BBC in the late 1990s I think it would have been a success if it had been released in Art House Cinemas all over the World.
A final pointer, watch (and listen) out for the superb Lindsay Duncan who plays the diminutive Marilyn Truman, the Head Librarian in the story, she has the most amazing voice and when telling Liam Cunningham stories around certain photographs, she captivates her audience to the point that you think that you are in the same room as her and Liam.
A good musical score, a sound cast, wonderful photography and camera work, "Shooting the Past" is a classic of a film that Stephen Poliakoff has every reason to be proud off. Look out for Poliakoff's other masterpiece, "The Lost Prince" both are worth having in any DVD/Video collection.