“We shall not cease from exploration / And the end of our exploring / Will be to arrive where we started / And know the place for the first time.” – T.S. Eliot
While he read these lines with his deep, profound voice in Of Time and the City (2008), Terence Davies underlines crucial clues pertaining to the nature of remembering. This film that he had dedicated to Liverpool, where he was born in and grew up at –just like his other films which precipitate from his experiences– are constructed not as a mirror reflection, but rather as a collage of floating memories flitting about. As such, Terence Davies’ handful of cinematic poems he made in 30 years, are not untouchable “idols.” Starting with his trilogy of short films shot in 1976, 1980 and 1983, his chain of personal memories (in his own words) triggers each other like the rings in the water when you throw in a rock. This complex circularity is similar, be it a literary adaptation (House of Mirth, 2000) or autobiographical (Long Day Closes, 1992). His childhood and adolescence were spent in during and post-World War II England. The authoritarian school and passionist Catholic teachings, but still “light” at home is not missing albeit the strict father; his loving mother and siblings, the magic of cinema, the song which everybody joins in at some time, they all emphasise this contrast. For instance in Distant Voices, Still Lives (1998) which is somehow autobiographical as well, we watch the empty stairwell that leads to the upper floor of the house. There is nobody around, but we hear certain voices in the background. The time that flows through our fingers is captured so cinematically and delicately, it is there! Therefore, it is not surprise that he was called the “Proust of worker’s class.” The reason he is considered the most important English filmmaker is because he knows the raison d’etre of cinema. This is why memories shine a different light than a personal photo album. While he uncovers photographs from their locked drawers –personal or common– we feel dizzy because of the conflicting emotions we feel. This must be the awareness that we are not the master of our own memories. Similarly, like in Eliot’s poem, neither of time.
– Esin Küçüktepepınar