Emily Richardson


A city street at night

5 minutes
Prod/Dir: Emily Richardson
Camera: Emily Richardson
Sound Composer: Benedict Drew

Distributed by LUX Distribution.

Nocturne is a 5 minute film shot entirely at night in deserted streets of the city. The film attempts to find images of London at night that reveal the presence of the past, or the presence of the dead, hinting at it’s concealed history. It is shot in deserted streets around the east end of London and Docklands as there is a feeling of an echoic city filled with shadows that manifests itself there at night.

It is composed of long static viewpoints, each shot slowly unfolding in time as if by looking long enough it’s secrets will be revealed. Shooting on 16mm film, using long exposures and timelapse techniques together give the film an intensity of colour and a sense of fleeting or historical time. The drab, deserted streets are transformed as they appear in hyper-real colour, devoid of traffic and human activity.

The film has a neurotic, electric quality as the only signs of life are lights turning on and off in buildings, the occasional ghost image of passing cars and the pulse of overhead trains.

On these forgotten streets the sounds of night puncture the silence with more frantic, desperate outbursts and the silence becomes an active element. The film soundtrack recreates this teeming silence full of the sounds we tend to filter out, sounds such as the faint rumble of cars in the distance, planes flying overhead, the footsteps of people passing by, occasional voices and the wind blowing rubbish along the street.

Composed of a series of twilight images of empty streets, Nocturne is a mesmerising and tonally expressive work that similarly recalls the seminal tone poem Koyaanisquatsi, with the rigourous symmetry and urban desolation of Chantal Akerman’s News From Home. — New York Video Festival 2003 Notes.