Saturday, 30 March 2013

Behind The Bright Lights

I’ve been a fan of ‘Primitive London’ for some time now. It’s not a great film at all, but it brings together a number of interesting individual elements to provide a visceral snapshot of life and commerce just off the beaten track.  I find it fascinating, and annoying. A lot of it is faked (or at least staged), but, for me, that says as much about the preoccupations of the time as any strict fly on the wall documentary. It’s a magnificently haphazard and seedy melange of sex, sexism, violence, cruelty and non-conformism, leavened only slightly by bits of pseudo sophistication and largely unsuccessful stabs at humour. All human life may not be here, but there’s enough to make you wonder whether people are really a good idea before concluding that, if nothing else, they’re good entertainment value.

Amongst other delights we get to hear the views of beatniks, see a baby born, a hundred chickens die, wrestling, body building, swinging and stripping, lots and lots and lots of stripping. ‘Primitive London’ was one of the films I programmed as part of the ‘Subverse Britannia’ season in January and, as I sat and watched it in the company of others for the first time, I began to see it through their eyes, and thought ‘Christ, these people are going to think I’m a maniac’. I’m not a maniac, of course, I’m just a bloke who has watched so many horror and smut films that I barely even register sex and violence anymore. Actually, that does make me sound like a maniac. Shit.  

To me, at the risk of sounding more maniacal, ‘Primitive London’ is like an ex-girlfriend who, despite your best efforts, you remain painfully fond of. So when you can’t stand missing her anymore, you get back together, only to quickly realise that your relationship is awful and she’s just not the person you think she is. You part, you move on and, a short while later, you start thinking about her again…

What I’m trying to say, I suppose, is that I’m in love with the idea of ‘Primitive London’, but the reality is rather more problematic. With more time, effort and, above all, love, it could have been excellent. But it isn’t. But I still fancy it.


  1. I was one of the unfortunates who sat through this film at the SUBVERSE BRITANNIA event.
    Beware readers, as I approached the author of this fine site - to remonstrate with him about the offensive nature of this film - I suddenly became aware that he wasn't wearing any trousers (or underpants of any description). I quickly made my escape via the fire exit and fled into the confusing city streets, frightened, bewildered, and very sexually excited.
    Don't mess around with this man, he's a fucking MANIAC !

  2. You had a lucky escape. Let's hope your luck holds. Oh, by the way, in your haste you dropped your council tax bill. Remind me to drop it by one night when you're least expecting it...