I’ve had this theory for a while, as a means to justify my hatred of David Lynch’s work. A film needs substance, a film needs style. Too much substance and you’re left with an endurance exercise and a decreased will to live. Too much style and you just have a montage of images assembled into the vaguest impression of a plot, such as that one movie David Lynch is always making. But can you make a film that uses style to create substance or vice versa? Yes and Out of the Rubble (2015) is a damn fine example and why are you still reading this go and watch it.
Penny Woolcock’s contribution to BFI’s Britain on Film series is a work that examines the development and underdevelopment of urban housing and communities from the post war years onwards, told through edited newsreels, public service announcements and interviews that drag you through post war optimism to the council bureaucracy and poverty of the sixties and seventies, families of nine living in slum houses of Glasgow, all the while showing the realities of community segregation and alienation, leading us to the realities of gentrification, the forcing of communities on to the periphery of social housing through social cleansing.
There isn’t a narrator nor is there much in the way of original footage. It’s a collage of past work and records that highlights the stupidity of councils that refuse to work with communities, the patterns of immigration and bureaucratic racism. Yet, at its heart, Out of the Rubble is a story of hope. Not the smoothly narrated Morgan Freeman hope, God no, but the hope of communities of the urban landscape. The people at the centre of it aren’t waiting for a hero of the hour, they’re self-organising and taking direct action, anarchist almost, it the defence of their community.
Out of the Rubble pulls no punches and plays happy marriage with style and substance. The only problem is that it’s too short. So Penny Woolcock, if you are somehow reading this, please make a longer one.
The story of the cities is a story that needs to be told.
Dir: Penny Woolcock
Run Time: 18 mins
Out of the Rubble is available through the BFI website and is free to watch.