At the beginning again yet this time to the catalytic moment of an utterance, a desire, “a dream of doing something better”. Lulu Keating’s City Survival (1983) is a slightly kinder approach into the city. Our director guide here is Keating herself, animated behind her protagonist Mary Francis. Keating is careful in our treatment. Sensing our nervousness to leave, yet again, she reminds us before we depart - “you can always come home”. (Maybe we have been here before.) Keating oversees that we are transported safely to the city. She then gives us a home to live in, and she even introduces us to individuals who can help us. Yet this place we desire so much, it still remains far from our grasp.
The world she surrounds us with remains isolative and through her main character, we are consistently framed in such a way, to intensify our loneliness. The city of our world is one which overarches upon us, alien in form and overwhelming. Shifts in tone, composition, and soundtrack stress the estrangement because here, in this city, we find a complex modern instrument posited at times as the experience of a science fiction.
Through exploring the systems of a place, Keating turns a projection, and shifts the symbiosis between her character and place. She turns the table and effects a place whom assumes upon a person. Within the narrative a cascade of the city unto her character - it’s always streaming just beyond window to the world which surrounds Mary-Francis. And if you listen closely, you can just hear the nostalgia and preservation of latent memories creak within the walls.
Go ahead, put your ear up against the wall, just like one would a shell…
Yet beyond these confines, residents, they do enliven the city. It’s through them the city and our relationship to it - these are vitalized. A collection of interactions intervening between two separate geographies emphasize the intimidation, fear, and dread through playful, dry humorous ways - awkward interventions, the multiplicity of them passed off as subtle occurrences.
Keating’s city is one built of exclusivity and performs as a means to isolate. Despite the ominous tone, a lens vigorously fixed onto the a world shifted through character creaks near a shard of light far off ahead, creaking in from underneath a city shroud.
And so, we are left here again, perhaps to continue to conjure a our dream ?
We also acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, which last year invested $153 million to bring the arts to Canadians throughout the country.
We would like to acknowledge funding support from the Ontario Arts Council, an agency of the Government of Ontario.
The world she surrounds us with remains isolative and through her main character, we are consistently framed in such a way, to intensify our loneliness.