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2012 Highlights

William Raban

8 May 2012

William Raban



William Raban (b. 1948, Fakenham) started making films whist studying painting at Saint Martin’s School of Art in 1970. His current practice is rooted in his early 1970’s exploration of film properties and experiments in the observation of natural landscapes. He has made over 40 films. The feature length Thames Film (1986) is an essay on the changing face of London’s river over several centuries. Under the Tower trilogy (1992–96) uses richly worked soundtracks of intensified natural sound. William Raban is currently reader in film at the London College of Communication (University of the Arts London).

Abstract: The Houseless Shadow, 2011, 19 minutes

The Charles Dickens essay Night Walks gives voice to the film The Houseless Shadow, using the text to explore continuities between London’s nocturnal life as it is today, compared with how it was observed 150 years ago. Making the film was a process of retracing Dickens’s footsteps. Iconic landmarks evoke speculative thoughts about the penal system, liminal distinctions between sanity and madness and the hordes of London’s dead. There are striking differences from Dickens’s account of mid Victorian London, though some things remain remarkably consistent, such as when ‘the potmen thrust the last brawling drunkards onto the street’. What would Dickens’s keen eye for social inequality have made of the growing numbers of houseless on the streets of this otherwise glittering cosmopolitan city?