Robinson in Ruins.
‘Dirty old Blighty, undereducated, economically backward, bizarre. A catalogue of modern miseries with its fake traditions, its Irish war, its militarism and secrecy, its silly old judges, its hatred of intellectuals, its ill health and bad food, its sexual repression, its hypocrisy and racism and its intolerance. It’s so exotic… so home-made.’ And so opens Robinson’s world of London…
Patrick Keiller is one of the greatest documentary makers that this country has ever produced. He has a fundamental understanding of British society and culture and is able to manifest its smallest witticisms with moving accuracy. He recently announced that he is to revisit one of his most loved characters, Robinson, in his aptly titled; ‘Robinson in Ruins’.
Robinson in Ruins follows the narrative of Robinson who we first met in the 1994 documentary; ‘London’. The unnamed narrator guides us through London whilst simultaneously subverting the government and policies of the time through the tale of his dilapidated companion, simply known as Robinson. Through the tale of Robinson and his personal failures we unravel the state of London as it appeared at the time; fractured, alienating, marginalising and most of all, crumbling and in desperate need of invigoration. Robinson’s tale is told to the backdrop of IRA bombings, murders, a crumbling economic landscape and an ailing Conservative government, who by his own definition “should have been out in 1992”.
1997 saw Robinson return with his equally scathing narrative, ‘Robinson in Space’. This time taking on a crumbling England of industrial wastelands, unemployment, poverty and 18 years of Conservative privatisation permeating through every faction of British life. His visual essay is marked by the beauty of the landscapes he examines, contrasted with the narrative of an ailing Robinson.
Ruins returns with almost perfect timing as the Conservative party return to power against a climate of financial hardship, economic ruin, rising unemployment and deep governmental cuts, plunging the country back into uncertainty and hardship, not to mention a social cleansing of London that would almost certainly see Robinson himself fall victim to its parameters.