“It would have been more logical if silent pictures had grown out of the talkie instead of the other way round.” – Mary Pickford
Thanks to 265 Kickstarter backers, director-editor Alex Barrett was able to grant Ms. Pickford’s wish — for one magnificent movie, at least.
London Symphony is a bracing, beautiful, cinematic stay-cation. You watch Barrett’s ode to life in London — flawlessly photographed (by Barrett and several others, in glorious black and white) and ethereally scored (by James McWilliam) — and 72 minutes later, you’re relaxed and refreshed.
The movie is split into four “movements” — city, nature, places of worship, and night life — and that’s about all I want to divulge about the movie’s outline. (Rahim Molendina gets a writing credit — but, not to belittle his work, how do you write something like this?) Beyond the film’s countless settings, the point of the movie seems to be that there’s beauty in everything. And Barrett goes out of his way to prove it, with alternately static and sweeping imagery that makes even discarded trash look as though it had a preordained shape to it.
Sometimes the movie shows the simple beauty in stasis, and then sometimes it captures movements that look candid, yet provide their own lovely commentary. A passing train is reflected in an oval light, and the light ends up looking as though it’s smiling at us. There’s a long shot taken on a bridge that shows a flowing river below, and suddenly feet appear at the corner of the screen. Is somebody going to jump off the bridge? No, he’s just standing on the bridge’s glass walkway.
It’s amazing how often people use visual media to record an event, and then they’re so worried about their audience getting bored that they have to insert useless talk into their recording. (Would it kill TV’s football-game announcers to shut up once in a while?) London Symphony lets the images speak for themselves, and it reestablishes your faith in the human spirit.