Directed by Christopher Petit • 1979 • United Kingdom, Germany
Starring David Beames, Lisa Kreuzer, Sandy Ratcliff
A rare road movie from England, Christopher Petit’s mesmerizing debut feature has taken its place as a cult classic and one of the most singular films of the 1970s. Robert (David Beames), the film’s enigmatic protagonist, embarks on a road trip from London to Bristol to investigate the recent death of his brother. As Robert drives west, the radio newscasts he hears and the strangers he meets address the dire political and economic state of late-seventies Britain. A remarkable collection of art rock, punk, and new wave—David Bowie, Devo, Kraftwerk, Robert Fripp, Ian Dury, and more—soundtracks Robert’s journey, and the austere urban and rural landscapes he passes through are strikingly rendered in black and white by cinematographer Martin Shäfer (a frequent Wim Wenders collaborator). Petit deftly melds these stylistic, narrative, and documentary elements, resulting in an experience that is eerie, reflective, and hypnotic all at once.