Foregone Conclusion

Gay filmmaker Terence Davies talks about his ode to his childhood love of Liverpool, Of Time and the City.

BY Lawrence Ferber

February 06 2009 1:00 AM ET

Of time and the city poster xlarge (publicity) | ADVOCATE.COM  

You’re working on a romantic comedy right now. You bet! It’s a romantic comedy set in
the present day in London and Paris in fashion
magazines, and it ends with a happy ending. Knowing me,
I’ll put a subtitle on the end: "You’re all
gonna die!" [Laughs]

Last year’s documentary about Jarman,
Derek, sparked conversations regarding how the
U.K. Film Council had shifted its focus from art to
commerce, and how many important British films
weren’t being preserved or available to the
public, yet anything "high-octane" with gangsters is
being promoted and funded. Your thoughts on the
situation and how your own work is being treated?
This obsession with box office, and I’m
not anti-American, but we are being subsumed by
American culture. We look for validation, both
culturally and politically, towards the USA when really we
should look towards Europe, because that’s
where our future lies. More and more we’re
trying to be like Hollywood and we can’t do it. Those
things make an indigenous British cinema much more
difficult. I’m patriotic only in the sense I
want us to make films about stories that arise naturally
from these islands. There is no point in making
gangster films because we can’t do it properly.
They are just silly. That does not go to say you
should not make films that are purely entertaining.
There’s nothing wrong with that presuming
they’re well made. But we are in this thrall to your
country. If we go on like this, in 20 years' time
we’ll be like Hawaii but with lousy weather.

If you remade your cycle of autobiographical films
today, would you make them more explicitly gay?
If I was making them now, I wouldn’t get
the money for them.

Would you consider making a film about your adult years? God forbid! That’s even more depressing
than the trilogy! [Laughs] I’ve never
reconciled myself to being gay. It has really ruined my
life. I can’t accept it, and so I’m
celibate. But I get enormous solace from the music of
Bruckner, the poetry of Eliot, the sonnets of Shakespeare,
and Emily Dickinson. I have very good friends whom I love
and are very supportive. Perhaps in the end
that’s all one can hope for. I write poetry,
which gives me enormous pleasure, and every now and then
when you feel a bit low you put on something like
Singin' in the Rain, which is the first
film I saw, at 7. You just think, Oh, it is
worthwhile after all!

Have there been any relationships during your life? No, I’ve never had a relationship.
I’m celibate. I’m not good-looking, I
don’t have a good body. No one’s ever been
interested, so it’s best to stay home and [hold
on to] your dignity, I think.

I feel the age of the Internet has changed that,
because no matter what you are, from skinny geek to bear
to superchub to daddy, there’s a website
where someone is looking for you.
I don’t believe that, you see. But
I’ve been celibate for so long, I have to say I
wouldn’t know what to do anyway if someone wanted to
go to bed with me. I’m so sad! [Laughs]

Tags: film

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