The travelogue of a pedestrian, which expounds (among other things) the convenient but inept supposition that ‘in any train of thought, the end of one is followed by the beginning of the next.’ – P.K.
‘Ex-architect Patrick Keiller brings a graphic and compositional sense of landscape to this complex essay film following a conceited modern-day flâneur who conjects ruminatively over images of a curiously ill-defined European landscape. From within these images of construction, roadways and the never-ending to-ing and fro-ing of Europe’s numerous train stations, can be glimpsed the visage of the old Europe, defined by borders, varied cultures and a distinct sense of place. At one point the camera lingers accusingly upon the dated futuristic symbol of the 1958 Brussels’ World Fair. Keiller’s film is book-ended by two extraordinary images echoing Europe’s past. In the opening sequence a boat rocks plaintively away from the white cliffs of southern England, furnishing us with a longing look, graphically similar but not afforded to the steely-eyed emigrants of Ford Madox Brown’s epochal mid-nineteenth century painting “The Last of England”. In the last images the decaying footage of a group of tourists assembled in the Piazza Navona is looped, slowed down and scored by Brahms melancholy “setting” for Goethe’s “Winter Journey over the Harz Mountains”. These odd, layered, extremely moving moments seem to almost stand in for the feeling of loss, displacement and restlessness evoked by Keiller’s less than celebratory gaze upon the landscape, both physical and mental, thrown up by contemporary Europe.’ – Adrian Danks
‘Often enigmatic, sometimes fascinating, the English is as seductive as phrasebook Italian.’ – Renata Rubnikowicz, The Guardian