The epic post-punk British road movie nobody has ever heard of
Made in England in 1979 at the height of post-punk, this is a very unique film. It’s like what Joy Division would have looked like if the band’s music was made into a film.
The story (which some may argue is a little light on the details) follows a man as he travels from London to Bristol by car to investigate the death of his brother, which is shrouded in mystery.
Along the way he meets a whole range of strange and misanthropic types that he fails to connect with and communicate with. The story is therefore one of alienation, and no-surprises there, it fits in perfectly with this anxiety-ridden, bleak, industrialised and strange looking Britain of the late 70’s.
This is a now long-forgotten world. A world of remote telephone boxes, pitch-black rainy nights and deserted petrol stations. There is a slow-burning and strange beauty to this film, and each frame and each scene is like perfection.
This movie reminds me a lot of that other bleak and disarmingly beautiful German film by Wim Wenders Wings of Desire (Der Himmell uber Berlin) which I have written about extensively before. Along the way the protagonist ends up at a deserted petrol station where he meets a young Sting who is just hanging out there.
This could easily be a German movie by Wim Wenders. In a way the rolling landscape and beautiful music by Bowie and Kraftwerk make this road movie feel like a really amazing and long music video directed by Jim Jarmunsch. But again, don’t expect much in the way of a story, it’s more about amazing cinematography than a clear narrative. This generates a deep mythology about electronic music, the menacing future of technology and industrialization in a time when computers were largely fictional. It’s really interesting, claustrophobic, lush in its decay. I hope you enjoy it.