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Shooting the Past
Shooting the Past
Actors: Lindsay Duncan, Timothy Spall, Liam Cunningham, Billie Whitelaw, Emilia Fox
Director: Stephen Poliakoff
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Television
NR     2006     3hr 2min

As the representative of a US corporation, Christopher Anderson is developing a country house on the outskirts of London into a business school for the 21st century, which would be fine if it were not the home of a unique ...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Lindsay Duncan, Timothy Spall, Liam Cunningham, Billie Whitelaw, Emilia Fox
Director: Stephen Poliakoff
Creators: Bruno de Keyzer, Ernest Vincze, Stephen Poliakoff, Helen Flint, John Chapman, Peter Fincham, Simon Curtis
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Television
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Drama
Studio: BBC Warner
Format: DVD - Color - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 09/05/2006
Original Release Date: 11/21/1999
Theatrical Release Date: 11/21/1999
Release Year: 2006
Run Time: 3hr 2min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 13
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English
Subtitles: English

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Movie Reviews

Moving and Wonderful, Evocative and Elegant
George K. Fawcett Jr | New Orleans, La. USA | 01/16/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I caught this on Masterpiece Theatre, it is truly amazing. A story within a story. The cast of characters is superb and makes you almost want to know each one.Each character is unique. The story of the massive and unique photograph collection is amazing in itself. But the stories within the stories, as told to the mean American who threatens to destroy the photo collection are the real jewels. As the film unfolds we are drawn onto the black and white photos in the collection. We see the body of photographs as a whole for thier special beauty. I felt joy, amazement and wonder....This film is a contemporary masterpiece.One of my favorite joys of the past year."
Hubby and I Loved It!
carol irvin | United States | 06/19/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I bought this 2 video set expecting it to be good. It was much, much better than good! The stories that are told to the corporate man who wants to destroy this photo collection from the past are incredible. There is one, involving an ancestor of this man's, that will keep you spellbound as he sees and hears the story of that ancestor unfold picture by picture. The pictures themselves are also gorgeous. Actually, this is very close to being a mystery since the goal is to unveil the man's past through photos to convince him the past, in general, is worth saving through saving all of the photos. There are 10 million photos in this collection! If you like English historical romances, this is one presented in a very unique way. The story is set in the present but the photos are from those prior romantically imagined times. This would have been made into a video only in Britain. I cannot imagine we Americans ever turning a subject like this into a movie, unfortunately."
A Library Tour De Force
Ann M Ferrari | Pittsburgh, PA | 01/17/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This film is a wonderful portrayal of librarians as the heroes of the film. The staff is portrayed as extremely resourceful, able to find anything in a non-computerized collection, and extremely creative at piecing together information. In order to convince the new owner that the collection is worth saving, the librarians assemble a series of stories linked to various photographs--a sort of librarian's Sheharazade.One of my favorite scenes is where Marilyn, the head librarian, is showing the new owner a set of photographs of a young Jewish girl that were found from different parts of the collection, in the hopes of convincing him of the value of keeping the library intact. Marilyn narrates Lilly's story, showing the happy child with her parents, then being separated from her parents and sent to live with a non-Jewish family during the Holocaust era. She is allowed to reunite with her parents for a morning in a park, and the photos capture the love between the parents and child, the despair of their separation, and the terrible sense of fear of that era. The story and the surprise ending are intensely moving and will leave you with an Anne Frank type of ache in your heart.The final story of the movie that the librarians ingeniously weave together is a series of photographs involving the owner's Irish grandmother (and mysterious stories from her past that have a huge impact on him).I really appreciated the great character development which allowed each of the librarians to be seen as individuals with unique quirks and their own brand of British humor. This film proves that even in this computerized world, the power of the human intellect and the beauty of vintage still photography are not dusty relics to be kept on a shelf, but are vibrant ways of preserving our past and linking lives together. There are a lot of genres here in this film that you won't find mixed together elsewhere: mystery/suspense, librarianship, historical preservation, photography, and themes of ancestry.Hats off to writer/director Stephen Poliakoff for such an accurate portrayal of the analytical and intellectual abilities of librarians, as well as for the most suspenseful film about a library that I've ever seen."
When the past becomes the future...
Kali | United Kingdom | 08/31/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"A unique library of old and modern photographs are put under threat when the building they are housed in is suddenly sold. The new owner of the property, Liam Cunningham played by the able Christopher Anderson, has no interest in the photos and doesn't care what happens to them. In fact most of the photos will be destroyed with the crème de la crème of the collection being sold on. All Liam is interested in is renovating the building and making a hefty profit for the business he represents.

However the library's many eccentric employees won't give up without a fight and from then on a war of wits and determination is played out among a wonderful array of black and white photographs that represent the past, the present and even the future.

The characters in this film are truly delightful, especially Timothy Spall who plays the oddball Oswald Bates, a man with a memory for faces so attuned that he can see resemblances between a person he has only seen once and those whose pictures are imprinted upon photographic paper.

However the battle to save the collection seems doomed, with every attempt the Library staff makes being thwarted but fate has something wonderful in store for Liam Cunningham and it is this wonderful twist in the story that ultimately will save the collection for future generations.

This is a fabulous film, originally a three part series for the BBC in the late 1990s I think it would have been a success if it had been released in Art House Cinemas all over the World.

A final pointer, watch (and listen) out for the superb Lindsay Duncan who plays the diminutive Marilyn Truman, the Head Librarian in the story, she has the most amazing voice and when telling Liam Cunningham stories around certain photographs, she captivates her audience to the point that you think that you are in the same room as her and Liam.

A good musical score, a sound cast, wonderful photography and camera work, "Shooting the Past" is a classic of a film that Stephen Poliakoff has every reason to be proud off. Look out for Poliakoff's other masterpiece, "The Lost Prince" both are worth having in your DVD/video collection."