Set around Black Monday, the global share crash in January 2008 , this third panel of Keiller’s triptych is as witty, erudite, informed, provocative and stimulating as the first two. But what is new and intriguing is a greater sense of ruefulness, mystery and human limitation. As we tour, say, the ruined Hampton Gay manor house, which looks over the site of the Paddington-Birkenhead Express 1874 rail crash, or visit Harrowdown Hill, the site of biological weapons expert David Kelly’s suicide, Robinson’s presence feels even more like a ghost in the landscape or a voice in the wind as his visions, investigations, invocations, insights and commentaries are pieced together, narrated (in Vanessa Redgrave’s strangely matter-of-fact tones), augmented and contextualised by his dead friend’s unnamed ex-lover from fragmentary notebooks and old film cans left behind by Robinson.
It’s a waterfall of ideas – but the (sometimes numinous) images are calmingly still. Keiller’s canny use of Robinson as an intellectual and artistic license to roam (not to say, sometimes, hyperbolise, pontificate and play) frees him to essay not only a richly imaginative vision of England’s past, present and future, but also a moving elegy to the lonely, wandering spirit of the individual enquirer.