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4.2 out of 5 stars
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4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 27 March 2009
My father wanted to see this, partly because he was born and bred in Liverppol and now lives near Chester, but partly because it has had some excellent reviews in the media. I was happy to go along for the ride.

The film is peppered with poetry and quotations, and they are all appropriate for the footage at that moment, whether you know the lines or not. The narration is rich and the voice has real resonance. The music is varied - rock, ballads, classical - and again, whether it is to your taste or not, it is all appropriate for the footage being shown.

There is humour, there is some bitterness about the difference between the rich and the poor, and there is great sadness for what has been lost forever. In fact, the overwhelming impression is a sense of huge loss in the face of decay. I am not usually one for tears in cinemas, but in the tiny cinema of Theatr Clwyd half of the audience was struggling to dig out tissues, and at one point I was one of them. The sense of vibrancy and hope fading into depression and decay was almost too much to bear.

But there really is humour. One of my favourite jokes is far too rude to repeat here, but the dryness in some cases and the outright vigour in others had the audience laughing as well as crying.

If you are offended by a negative attitude to religion or the monarchy this may be something you will need to bear in mind. But there are no digs at politics or any focus on street violence, both obvious targets to create an impact with an audience.

There is nothing artificial about the ending. There is no false sense of hope for a future which is, if one is being realistic, completely uncertain. There are shots of modern life, people of all ages being both false and natural in different activities, but there are no predictions and there is nothing that lifts the overall sense of loss, occasional anger, and regret.

It is the only film that I have ever attended at which the audience sat motionless, with the theatre lights all fully illuminated, until the very end of the credits. There was a real sense that something remarkable had just happened and that it would be uncivil to stand and leave before the text had trailed away.

My father and I went to a nearby pub afterwards for a meal and spent the entire time talking about the film. Laugh or cry, it is an amazing and never to be missed experience. I have it on pre-order.
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on 13 January 2009
I love the city of Liverpool, and made the choice to move here last year. When I saw this film, it just reaffirmed how right this decision was.

Liverpool has been long underrated, ridiculed and misunderstood, despite having one of the richest cultural heritages of anywhere in the world (where else do you think MERSEYbeat music came from?!) and some of the most incredible people as its inhabitants, as well as being the world's first real modern trading port with its series of docks and warehouses and sadly being heavily involved in the slave trade.

Liverpool and its people have so many diversities; there are so many people of so many backgrounds here; rich and poor, young and old, and from all over the world.

The film investigates these people, and gives voices to those who are usually silenced; nobody speaks bar Terrence Davies but he eloquently and movingly tells their stories with a mixture of modern and old footage. I found it humbling to watch and made me proud to be a part of such a beautiful and rich (in the sense of love and culture) city. It is not all seriousness, there are some humourouse and rather rude moments!!

Recommended to anyone with even a passing interest in the city of Liverpool and to educate those with a bad impression of what was the European Capital Of Culture last year. Also, big congratulations to both Terrence Davies and Roy Boulter for their hard work in piecing this together; a huge amount of work and research went into the conception and production of this film.
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on 21 July 2014
A homosexual slant on the UK City of Liverpool from an atheist who thanks God for his lack of religious faith and belief: A man raised on Roman Catholic pieties and the criminalization of sodomy.

Damnation-without-compassion informs this documentary poem, allied with a poor and loving upbringing. Director Terence DAVIES has understandable contempt for the fossilized nature of UK culture, particularly as embodied in the gilded monarchy of a declining post-colonial Western state.

The film focuses on the manifold problems of the United Kingdom, rather than the beauties (few though they are), yet this work refuses to be downhearted in its essential desire to provide esthetic solace. It does this by reveling in the revelation of the director’s ongoing love affair with Liverpool that, despite its many failings, is still – for him - a place called Home.

This film is a clever mix of rose-tinted nostalgia and realism that pulls no punches. It is autobiography of a high order, but too subjective and opinionated to be truly great despite the excellent choice of music and the director’s heartfelt voiceover.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 27 February 2014
Thus describes writer-director Terence Davies’ nostalgic memories of his upbringing in his home city of Liverpool in this beautifully evocative homage made in 2008. Davies is, of course, one of the finest (albeit sporadic, sadly) British film-makers of the past 20 or so years, always with a unique artistic eye for cinematic detail and the fusion of the visual and aural, and these are qualities amply on display in this fond (and not so fond) collection of archive documentary footage.

Davies is a man (and film-maker) who has always worn his heart on his sleeve (although not, as he makes clear here, as a repressed young gay man) and here he trumpets and lambasts in equal measure via his poetic and darkly comic voiceover. Indeed, his film in a sense goes full circle, from its opening brazen celebration of his city’s resplendent architectural heritage, through his own childhood era of cramped, run-down, smoke-billowing terraced houses (to the tune of The Spinners’ version of Ewan MacColl’s Dirty Old Town), manual labour and the birth of the ‘modern’ high-rise, but concluding rather more positively with footage of today’s burgeoning humanity ('You are the earth’).

Along the way, his celebrations of time past include (of course) the movies (premières with Peck, Sellers, Hawkins plus Singin’ In the Rain), music (though the advent of rock n’ roll had the effect of driving him towards Sibelius, Bruckner and Mahler at the expense of local heroes, The Beatles, 'more like a firm of provincial solicitors’) and sport (football, the Grand National and the physical temptations of wrestling, ‘when sportsmen (and women) knew how to win and lose with grace’). Even more passion (and ire) is, though, reserved for authority figures – the (in his case, Catholic) church receives a splendid dose of irony ('paradise betrayed’, 'born-again atheist (thank God)’) with its repressive attitudes towards homosexuality (a brief burst of Kenneth Williams), plus a scathing attack on the pomp and privilege of ‘Betty and Phil’s’ 1947 wedding (with its hilarious 'wedding list’).

As is the man’s wont, he has again chosen an evocative musical accompaniment for his film, by the likes of Lizst, Handel, Brahms, The Hollies and Peggy Lee, but my own personal favourite (thereby producing one of the film’s most haunting passages) is that of the brooding sound of the 5th movement of Mahler’s 2nd Symphony, the 'Resurrection’, perhaps reflecting the mood of a 21st century Liverpool (which became a European Capital of Culture in 2008, the year of Davies’ film).
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on 10 June 2009
Terence Davies uses music and poetry laced with contemporary and archive footage to create this lyrical and emotional salute to Liverpool. He ennobles the working class history of a city where it always seems to be raining or blowing up a gale of one sort or another. The music is ecstatic - Liszt, Tavener, Mahler - as the camera roams the slums of the post-war city. Blackened doorways spew out children; their lank-haired mothers sit on doorsteps in their aprons as grandmothers carry bales of laundry on their heads to the wash-house. Dogs are everywhere. Tubby propeller-tailed mongrels totter breathlessly after toddlers who seem to be in their care. Scruffy brindles and short-arsed terriers chase after spiky-haired boys scooting recklessly downhill on a set of pram wheels. A young girl in a snowy playground lovingly puts socks on the frozen hands of a little child. Full pubs spill out soft-faced women with permed hair. Flat-capped football crowds wave as a wrecking-ball swings ominously over their houses. The shipyards close down. A Canadian Pacific liner glides away from Albert Dock, full of emigrants. Tiny figures line the decks, looking back at Liverpool. This is a wonderful film.
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on 16 January 2009
Terence Davies has made a wonderful, evocative film about his childhood.
I loved it. It made me laugh and cry and I wondered if it made a difference to me because I come from Liverpool too but I really don't think this is the case.
It's the marvellous writing that makes this poem to childhood so special.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 22 September 2011
Utterly compelling. Seeing and hearing and listening to the parent past. For the first time. The architecture of decay and children play. Surpassed. I glanced at my parents' picture on the wall. Open-air swimming pools crowded. Glad.

And onward change tries to hide. And fails. The people who won their war. Betrayed. The 'fossil monarchy' should be gone, gone, gone. Not like ballroom dancing but The Bomb.

Creative souls like us should thrive through time unclocked. Defined. And people talking is one person's only hope. Together. I love this time of plenty. Out of mind.

Terence portrays in poetry as I review in kind. An unsentimental journey where I thought I would cry. I did not. See this documentary for who you are now. And for the mobile phone taking the place of crowds.
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on 26 March 2014
There are no Strawberry Fields or Penny Lanes in Terence Davies' Liverpool. There's just working class poverty, Catholicism, and a growing sense of 'otherness' that makes this documentary and remembrance of the city as profound a cinematic experience as any I have ever had. Using historical footage and scenes shot specially for the film, Davies weaves a tapestry of British life as seen through the eyes of one most victimized by it. And yet the film is as tender as it is angry, compassionate as it is conflicted. The word 'masterpiece' was invented for movies like this. Do not hesitate to buy this film. You will wonder how you ever lived without it.
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on 13 December 2012
I have just watched "Time and the City" for the first time and I was completely bowled over by its power, beauty, honesty, sensitivity and humour and its glimpses of a long gone Liverpool took me back to my own 1950's and 1960's childhood and adolescence in Plaistow, Canning Town and Silvertown in the east end of London. I have never been to Liverpool in my life but some of the scenes in the film very much reminded me of the world I inhabited that like Davies's Liverpool is no more.

Davies's has made a superb, deeply personal film, it is essentially his view of what life was like for him in Liverpool in the 1950's and 1960's. His combination of achive footage, still photographs, literature, poetry and music is very imaginative and moving and reminds people of my generation what it is was like for us who grew up in a post war inner city area and how so much has changed since then. Like in the east end of London in the two decades after the war there was complete transformation in Liverpool and a great deal of destruction, not all of which produced the improvements that were hoped for. The film also shows youngsters of today that it was an utterly different world to what they are familiar with now. Modern teenagers must wonder how on earth people managed to live in such deprived conditions and why so many people put up with the poverty and injustice that prevailed then and the vast gulf that existed between the rich and the poor of Britain. In the early 1950's particularly there were severe shortages after the war, the country was virtually bankrupt, there was very little money around, there was widespread rationing, hardly anyone had cars or television sets and there were none of the modern labour saving gadgets that we all take for granted today. Although this is very apparent in Davies's film the people shown managed to cope in their own way and he shows how people enjoyed themselves in ways that seem very unsophisticated to us now but there was a rich working class culture where people made the most of what little they had. His use of children at play in the dingy streets and older people at work and in the home perhaps illustrates this best.

A terrific film, uplifting and saddening, enlightening and depressing - I wonder how a filmaker in fifty years time would portray life in an inner city setting in the second decade of the 21st century?
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on 4 April 2010
This DVD was recommended to me as an amazing evocation of Liverpool through the years. It was all that it was cracked up to be - thought provoking, amusing, beautiful (and sometimes ugly) to watch, with clever sound track and voice over by the producer, Terence Davies Highly recommended, it needs several viewings.
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