“Explicitly challenging all the accepted forms of the TV documentary, John Smith’s important film is extraordinary as the product of a major institution. The dual subjects are the inhabitants of tower blocks in Hackney and the components and conventions of film-making. Interviews with the former are cut against a limited sequence of compositions which illustrate and question the soundtrack in a number of distinct ways. Repetition, sharp editing, unlikely images (chalk lines, lift doors closing) and the deliberate reversal of normal devices all work to disorientate the viewer and to force a reconsideration of his or her relationship to the film… The overall result is, perhaps surprisingly, given the theoretical concerns, a strangely intimate picture of the subjects. Importantly, its success demonstrates the necessity for many TV film-makers to re-think their safe approaches and accepted techniques.” John Wyver, Time Out, 1978.
Commissioned by Thames Television.