Art + Architecture | 1970 | Sound | Colour
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Opening scenes - industrial brick buildings shot as if camera is in a passing vehicle. Title is a painting of L. S. Lowry the painter and artist from the Salford Manchester area. He is seated and dressed in a suit.
Further shots of industrial buildings and workers leaving factories are intercut with some of Lowry's paintings. Men in business suits - some carrying waterproof macs and newspapers - walk along the pavement. Cars drive by. Close up of a bicycle. A man wearing a cloth cap pedals it through the traffic. Other men dressed similarly (workers) cycle in between the cars and lorries. A group of men and women stand on a street corner. They vary in ages. One girl holds a wicker shopping basket and an older women carries a co-op carrier bag. A man stands and smokes, reading a newspaper. This scene dissolves into a shot of a Lowry picture of a similar street corner. The camera pulls out to reveal more of the painting: workers terraced houses and tall industrial chimneys on factories billowing out smoke. Further shots of typical Lowry paintings - industrial scenes, streets with lots of activity, people milling around outside factory buildings and standing on pavements in groups. Brief shot of actual crowds - men standing around, one with a moustache and cloth cap stands with his arms folded.
Internal scene: in the artists studio, Lowry sits at an easel (a white haired gentleman wearing a suit and glasses) and adds to a painting of a lone male figure. He holds a brush in his left hand, but adds to the picture using paint on his finger.
We see a study of a group of eight people - male and female, mostly looking directly ahead. They stand in a row and are of varying heights and ages. They are all dressed in dark clothing, and the women wear hats. Brief shot of Lowry painting with a brush, then another Lowry picture - a man smoking a cigarette lies on top of a red brick wall. His brief case and umbrella are propped against the wall, and in the background is a spire with a clock face and two tall smoking chimneys.
Commentary begins briefly discussing Lowry and his work. Shots of him painting at his easel are intercut with his paintings which illustrate the commentary. Close up of his brush on a palette of murky grey and brown colours. We are shown footage of Lowry's earlier, more "classical" work - pencil drawings and studies of figures and human forms. Lowry talks to camera about his artistic training. The pencil sketches and drawings begin to be of buildings and street scenes with people in - more typical Lowry subject matter. We are shown early paintings of rural scenes - a farmhouse set in the hills, isolated and desolate buildings. The subject matter is unfamiliar, but the colours and mood are typical of his later work. They have the same bleak characteristics. Lowry speaks of wanting to "put the industrial scene on the map".
Footage of industrial Manchester and Salford - factories, buildings, chimneys, terraced houses, bridges, railways, disused and slum housing - is parallel edited with Lowry's paintings of the same.
Painting of a black steam engine - LNER 622, and a guard with a red flag. Close up shots of an actual engine - locomotive number 477 - wheels and pistons and track workers (one wearing a bright orange safety vest). A man wearing a jacket and a peaked cap carries the guards flags (red, green and yellow) across the platform and up some stairs (to the signal box?).
Further shots of contemporary Salford and Manchester continue to be juxtaposed with Lowry's impressions of the same: individuals and groups of people, a man cycling along a canal towpath, industrial landscapes. There is one particularly nice shot of a traditional grocery and provisions shop. Two old ladies in thick coats (one with a hat, the other with a head scarf) stand outside. One vigorously wipes her nose with a tissue. Close ups of chimneys with smoke on residential houses, and roof tops, and washing on lines stretched across cobbled back alleys. We see a woman through a window with rollers in her hair.
Footage is now mainly of people and the various characters on the streets. Two teenage girls walk away from camera (they are wearing quite short skirts). Two young girls of about seven play on a piece of wasteland and throw stones. A boy fiddles with the chain on a push bike. A group of children play around near a large bonfire in front of a large red brick building. Washing is hanging on a line. Lowry's pictures are images of similar subjects and in similar locations. Crowds of people walking along - workers, football supporters.
Footage of an actual football match - the camera is at pitch level. It is a fairly large ground with the supporters mainly in stands. General shots - the referee, an injured player with the physiotherapist running on to give treatment, tackling, running with and passing the ball, the goal keeper. Also shots of individuals within the crowd - male and female, young and old. Shots of individual characters from larger Lowry pictures is intercut with actual shots of similar people. Workers, the working class, individuals and small groups in the streets, sitting at benches.
Lowry, smartly dressed, walks along the pavement on a leafy residential road. He lets himself into a house, and as he enters, takes off his hat and puts his walking stick into a stand by the door. He sits down in a study which has dark oak furniture, various paintings in frames on the walls and propped against furniture, and old clocks. We look around at the various curiosities - ornaments, sculptures, paintings.
Lowry talks of being fond of the sea. We are shown ocean scapes and pictures. Lowry sits on a green painted wooden bench wearing a hat and looks out to sea. The credits are cut in against these final images. Much of this film is accompanied by music - a brass band (perhaps a colliery band) playing sombre, slow music. The images are a juxtaposition of a contemporary (mostly industrial) Manchester and Salford, and Lowry's impressions of the same.
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