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200x160 mm hardback
Published in 2020
London is Patrick Keiller’s highly imaginative psychogeographic journey through (and history of) London, as undertaken by an unnamed narrator and his companion, Robinson. The unseen pair complete a series of excursions around the city in an attempt to investigate what Robinson calls ‘the problem of London’, during which a palimpsest of the city is revealed.
London is a unique take on the essay-film format, with scathing reflections on the recent past, enlivened by offbeat humour and wide-ranging literary anecdotes. A variety of unexpected scenes recover the familiar London of the near past: Concorde almost touches suburban houses as it lands; Union Jacks fly from Wembley Stadium’s Twin Towers and pigeons flock around tourists in Trafalgar Square. Such images, in combination with the script, allow us to see beyond the London typically presented.
It is both a fascinating reflection on the diverse histories of Britain’s capital and an illuminating record of 1992, the year of John Major’s re-election, IRA bombs and the first crack in the House of Windsor.
With an afterword and location notes from the director, the book’s publication is the first time the film has been fully reproduced in print.
The book design lives up to the ambitions of the original film. Histories and topographies I thought I knew revealed from another angle. It’s good to have the script and the images, and the book-smell the film can’t deliver.