British Film Institute • 17m
Directed by Claude Goretta & Alain Tanner • Documentary • 1957 • 16 minutes
The swirling neon frenzy of Piccadilly Circus has never been better captured than in this innovative short, which presents the London landmark as a bewildering collage of image and sound.
Swiss film enthusiasts and BFI employees Claude Goretta and Alain Tanner (later to become established art-house filmmakers back home) were inspired by their colleagues’ success with the Free Cinema programme to try their own attempt at low-budget documentary filmmaking. After shooting 6,000 feet of footage of 25 nights, they turned the limitation of an absence of synced sound to their advantage by crafting a sophisticated soundtrack. Utilising snatches ambient street noise, pop music and scraps of dialogue from the kinds of Hollywood films shown in West End cinemas, their collage of sound was used to both imaginative and ironic effect (such as the National Anthem played over a shot of a large Coca-Cola sign).
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