Robinson in Ruins

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  • Documentaries
Nature blooms in unlikely places in Robinson in Ruins
The latest from film essayist and psychogeographer Patrick Keiller follows, after a long delay, his much-liked urban inquiries ‘London’ (1994) and ‘Robinson in Space’ (1997). It unearths a fascinating, fictional, William Cobbett-like rural ride through Oxfordshire and Berkshire undertaken by his unseen alter-ego, Robinson, the jailed, missing-presumed-dead esoteric academic.

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.

Release details

Rated: U
Release date: Friday November 19 2010
Duration: 105 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Patrick Keiller
Screenwriter: Patrick Keiller

Average User Rating

5 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:2
  • 4 star:0
  • 3 star:0
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:0
LiveReviews|5
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Martin Long

I lived a number of years ago in Oxfordshire so I thought that I would be able to recognise quite a bit of the film. Unfortunately So much of the film was taken in rural areas that I didn't recognise. Much of the commentary was full of details that would have been interesting to historians and physiologists.

James

Nice review Daniel.One thing though,it was Paul (not Philip) Schofield who did the voiceover for the earlier films.Haven't seen 'Ruins' yet but i'm really looking forward to it.Keiller has a unique view of things.Serious and thought provoking but thoroughly entertaining at the same time.As I haven't seen the film I cant rate it,the 5 stars are for the previous two.

James

Nice review Daniel.One thing though,it was Paul (not Philip) Schofield who did the voiceover for the earlier films.Haven't seen 'Ruins' yet but i'm really looking forward to it.Keiller has a unique view of things.Serious and thought provoking but thoroughly entertaining at the same time.As I haven't seen the film I cant rate it,the 5 stars are for the previous two.

Daniel Hacker

I went to see 'Robinson in Ruins' on Saturday, followed by the after show discussion. Patrick Keiller & the researchers involved in it's making. This was followed sadly, by a very short audience question & answers slot. I loved his first two Robinson films, London & Robinson in Space, but went with a little nagging feeling of doubt. How can this latest film live up to the fresh new way of presenting both immage & political observations, events in the news, the urban landscape, history & loss of individual identitity & belonging. With Robinson observing like a visiting alien from another planet, the strangeness of what is called England, trying to make sense of it all. Both films, to me were ground breaking pieces of film making. Was this going to be more like Robinson in his exhausted death throws, all alone in a mouldy, decomposing Baratt Home, writing in his note book, 'I am just going out for a walk, I may be some time!'. To my releif, this long awaited third chapter, of what is now a trilogy of an almost timeless character, was not only beautiful to watch with long lingering shots of bees on a teasle flower, cotrasted by shots of nuclear warhead factorys & the threat of global warming. Venessa Redgrave, replacing the stunning tones of Philip Schofield, narrates, (perfectly) the incredibly well researched & very clever script with a slight detatched but sympathetic, soothing tone. The 5 minute sequence of a spider, up close, slowly making it's web in a clockwise direction, with gret precision, with my thoughts of how we are all caught in one big complex web, the financial banking crisis, world economics & digital world networks, is to me, one of the most beautiful & contemplative pieces of cinematography ever made. It left me feeling a changed person, viewing the world in a different way, with Robinson's feeling's of dispare at the way we are destroying the fabric of society & ultimately our planet. Will it return to the Lichen & nature, with just traces in the landscape of our so called brilliant civilization. Like all others in the past? Or the ultimate death of the entire planet, due to our ongoing destruction of the protective atmosphere, losing Patricks shots of nature, the diversity of life on the planet for ever, devoid of all life? One of the Apollo astronaughts described the earth from the Moon as a beautiful jewel in the vast black desolation of space, he then wept due to mans stupidity & constant wars. A must see film of the year, surreal, inspiring & will go down in history as an icon of cinema for many generations.

Daniel Hacker

I went to see 'Robinson in Ruins' on Saturday, followed by the after show discussion. Patrick Keiller & the researchers involved in it's making. This was followed sadly, by a very short audience question & answers slot. I loved his first two Robinson films, London & Robinson in Space, but went with a little nagging feeling of doubt. How can this latest film live up to the fresh new way of presenting both immage & political observations, events in the news, the urban landscape, history & loss of individual identitity & belonging. With Robinson observing like a visiting alien from another planet, the strangeness of what is called England, trying to make sense of it all. Both films, to me were ground breaking pieces of film making. Was this going to be more like Robinson in his exhausted death throws, all alone in a mouldy, decomposing Baratt Home, writing in his note book, 'I am just going out for a walk, I may be some time!'. To my releif, this long awaited third chapter, of what is now a trilogy of an almost timeless character, was not only beautiful to watch with long lingering shots of bees on a teasle flower, cotrasted by shots of nuclear warhead factorys & the threat of global warming. Venessa Redgrave, replacing the stunning tones of Philip Schofield, narrates, (perfectly) the incredibly well researched & very clever script with a slight detatched but sympathetic, soothing tone. The 5 minute sequence of a spider, up close, slowly making it's web in a clockwise direction, with gret precision, with my thoughts of how we are all caught in one big complex web, the financial banking crisis, world economics & digital world networks, is to me, one of the most beautiful & contemplative pieces of cinematography ever made. It left me feeling a changed person, viewing the world in a different way, with Robinson's feeling's of dispare at the way we are destroying the fabric of society & ultimately our planet. Will it return to the Lichen & nature, with just traces in the landscape of our so called brilliant civilization. Like all others in the past? Or the ultimate death of the entire planet, due to our ongoing destruction of the protective atmosphere, losing Patricks shots of nature, the diversity of life on the planet for ever, devoid of all life? One of the Apollo astronaughts described the earth from the Moon as a beautiful jewel in the vast black desolation of space, he then wept due to mans stupidity & constant wars. A must see film of the year, surreal, inspiring & will go down in history as an icon of cinema for many generations.