Deadly Looks At Life
When I was a child, tripping off to the pictures twice a week to see double bills, I dreaded having to sit through â€˜Look At Lifeâ€™, a weekly 20-minute newsreel that was sandwiched between the two films. It turned out endless sanitized versions of British economic and social life with the same droning stern voiceover drily making fun of â€˜flower peopleâ€™ and â€˜non-conformistsâ€™. Many topics sounded like the kind of books Arthur Bryant would choose to read, like â€˜Hungarian-British Trade Fairs of the 1950sâ€™ and ‘Talking of Coaches’.
Now the BBC is running a series called â€˜Britain On Filmâ€™, which features clip compilations from the old â€˜Look At Lifeâ€™ episodes while subtitling them with facts we werenâ€™t made aware of while filming took place.
Whatâ€™s weird is that Iâ€™ve become rather fond of these agonizingly dull documentaries. They present a vision united in its unshakeably confident and sedate view of the world, even when things are changing beyond recognition. Coverage of the Prague Spring seemed to be handled in the same manner as footage of racing at Ascot. Backgrounds are now fascinating to study, and everything looks so eerily clean.
Some of the original episodes have even been released on DVD, but the reworked shows are more revealing. There are still a few episodes to go. And as we haven’t had some for a while, here’s some untampered-with footage of driving through London. Bet you couldn’t buy a decent Pad Thai for love nor money!