‘The places are what remain, are what you can possess, are what is immortal’ reads the Rebecca Solnit quote that introduces Andrew Finch’s short, Landscapes of the Heart. In this film, it is place that takes the centre stage. Blending philosophy, oral history and shots of Brighton Finch gives an affectionate take on our relationship with place, past and identity.
This short is essentially a love letter to Brighton, the directors’ hometown. Although some could argue that this narrows the film’s appeal to natives of the well-known party town, this couldn’t be further from the truth. The clever comparisons of shots from ‘then’ and ‘now’ give a simple yet moving rendition of the passing of time that is not restricted by city borders. After all, surely everyone can relate to yearning for a particular time that is interwoven with a particular place.
Landscapes of the Heart achieves this concise nostalgia with a mix of media: unaccompanied shots of graffiti mingle with news clips, music and personal as well as academic quotes. This eclectic cohesion works well, and Finch is successful in balancing the visual noise of graffitied streets with the tranquillity of unspoken text.
It is perhaps particularly poignant that the graffiti is left to speak for itself, because the tags are quotes in themselves. Much like the quotes from Brighton’s former revellers, the painted words are part of the city’s rich oral history of its many subcultures, and consequently they bear just as much significance as contributions from academics like Solnit. By highlighting graffiti as an active link to both the artist’s personal past and a place’s collective history, Finch gives depth to an art form that so often fades into a miscellaneous blur as we rush through urban landscapes.
Like most expressions of nostalgia, this film has a bittersweet taste. The banality of the desolate, drab asphalt seems so bleak in comparison with the sheer life of the rippling crowds from former times. And yet, showing these places in connection with their past illuminates the importance of the memories enfolded in the seemingly empty grey concrete.
'Landscapes of the Heart' was a film in consideration for Short Focus Film Festival 2019.