Saturday, April 01, 2006

Tales from The Valley

The Lea valley is a desolate, neglected part of the world, as a sometime visitor to the area it seemed somewhat lawless. I was always surprised at how forgotten it felt, its sense of lawlessness and neglect appeared to come from a singular lack of interest in its actions and needs by the authorities. Now that is set to change, the change began in earnest with the selection of London for the 2012 Olympics. This has encouraged the band Saint Etienne to make a film about the area with director Paul Kelly.
The film was shown initially with a live score by the band at the Barbican a few months ago. Wednesday saw a one off showing at the Royal Institute of British Architects.
‘What Have You Done Today Mervyn Day?’ follows the main character, Mervyn, as he does his paper round on his bike around the industrial wasteland of the Lea Valley. Mervyn is silent throughout the film but a personal history of his parents (narrated by David Essex and Linda Robson) and their thoughts on the area, and those of other contributors, follow him on his day’s journey.
Only a handful of others appear along with Mervyn, his neighbours who work in the warehouses and cafes are only a few in this empty part of town. We see views of the Lea Valley which show beauty in its dereliction, a sense of faded history in its disused buildings and quirky humour with its out of date signage and random graffiti. The score by Saint Etienne works well and Paul Kelly’s camerawork is reminiscent of Patrick Keiller, no doubt in the future this film will sit easily with ‘London’ and ‘Robinson In Space’ as well as Saint Etienne and Paul Kelly’s first film ‘Finisterre’.
If ‘What Have You Done Today Mervyn Day?’ appears in the listings I encourage you to see it.

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