Finisterre (Saint Etienne/London)
Sound: C+ Extras: B- Main Program: B-
There are usual only a select set of media views of
London. There is the happy Royal
portrait, a surreal otherworld, a place with a laugh a minute, the James Bond
fantasy world, the gritty gangster world and the angry young man world. That is overgeneral, but that is the
media. Finisterre (2003) is a
nearly hour-long program with music by Saint Etienne that shows a side of
London the BBC will not even take the time to show. This is the in-between world of rich and poor, new development
and abandoned buildings of tomorrow, promises of progress and prosperity to go
with decline in strange patches. There
is even linguistic subversion by default.
Presented in anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 video, the
picture quality is not bad and often looks good, but flaws also show here and
there. As a fan of so many images of
Britain, as well as seeing more of its TV and cinema than most in The States
ever will, I found this to be a refreshing, interesting, clever alternative to
what we are used to seeing. The
voiceover by Michael Jayston almost plays as a spoof of the old “voice of God”
narratives of early sound documentaries into the 1960s, but is also informative
and interesting. There is even the rise
of a new record label and look at other businesses in between a look at the
people and even the input of their opinion in parts.
The music is entirely by Saint Etienne and there are some
good moments here, including some with vocal.
Sometimes, the Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo has sonic limits and no real
surrounds, but does have clarity in most parts of the program. Extras include audio commentary by the band,
seven extra segments (many of which are extensions of footage in the program)
and a really nice booklet with brief essays by the band and program-makers
involved. Anglophiles will find Finisterre
a must-see, but many others should catch it for the unique niche it finds in a
sea of often-bad video productions.
- Nicholas Sheffo