September 11, 2012 by lucychlin
Tonight I went to the Toronto International Film Festival. It is touted as the second largest and prestigious film festival in the world after Cannes. I completely believe it; I have never seen so many red carpets rolled out in front of restaurants, clubs, hotels etc. With two English friends, we went to see Julien Temple’s “London – The Modern Babylon” at the Scotiabank Theatre.
Having lived in London, and recently visited for the Olympics, I have a soft spot for this amazing city. The film starts at the beginning of 1900 with narration from a gorgeous 106 year old woman talking about her experiences pre the World Wars growing up in the East End. The film continues with the Wars, The Blitz, Suffragettes, Immigration, 50’s Golden Years, Swinging Sixties, Punk, Thatcher, 80’s Yuppies, Royal Family and the Riots of London’s Mob Mentality. It was fascinating to watch an archival heritage of the city in its 110 years history, and it stirred me emotionally and visually.
I came away with a few take-aways:
1) The Elderly – This group have lived through amazing times and experiences first hand. The world has and is changing so fast that what they have experienced even 50 years ago is completely different to how things are now and within this generation. I would like to volunteer at a Nursing Home, just to continue to hear more fascinating stories from the past.
2) Immigration – London had to rebuild itself after World War 2, and to do that, it brought it immigration from past colonies such as the West Indies and India. They brought in new culture, music, food and influenced the city and its people to be the inter-nations melting pot that it now represents. For example, the national dish of the UK is the “tikka masala”! With the birthrates of developing nations dropping, immigration could be the solution.
3) The Rich and the Poor – The divide between the upper/middle class and the working class has always been present in London’s society. The rich often gets richer, and the poor becomes more frustrated, feeling isolated and trapped in their poverty. The many riots (Tottenham, Brixton, Notting Hill) happened because people needed a chance to voice their opinion, bring attention to their situation and feel valued with an sense of identity. The police can only suppress so much, but things will need to change at fundamental grassroots level to completely resolve the problem without further future repetition.
4) Change – With so many people around the world wanting to go to London to visit or live, the city is in constant change from the influences received by all different cultures and nationalities. The movie stated that London is a fluid, transitional city, with a staggering 40% of its residents born outside the UK. This mixture of thoughts and change brings a culture open to new ideas, a sense of renewal and it is a city constantly on the go.
My recommendation is to go watch it for the love of this magnificent city and you will leave hopeful and nostalgic with a head, heart and ear full of Sex Pistols, The Clash, Pet Shop Boys, Rolling Stones, Bowie and of course, The Kinks.