Festival of Ideas: Robin Robertson
Image credit: Miles Tewson

Festival of Ideas: Robin Robertson


Please note: This event took place in Nov 2019

75 mins

Film Noir and the City: The Long Take

Robin Robertson’s The Long Take is a noir narrative written with the intensity and power of poetry. One of the most remarkable books of recent years, it was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and was winner of the Goldsmiths Prize, The Roehampton Poetry Prize and the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction.

In The Long Take, Walker is a D-Day veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder; he can’t return home to rural Nova Scotia, and looks instead to the city for freedom, anonymity and repair. As he moves from New York to Los Angeles and San Francisco we witness a crucial period of fracture in American history, one that also allowed noir to flourish. The Dream had gone sour but – as those dark, classic movies made clear – the country needed outsiders to study and dramatise its new anxieties.

While Walker tries to piece his life together, America is beginning to come apart: deeply paranoid, doubting its own certainties, riven by social and racial division, spiralling corruption and the collapse of the inner cities. The Long Take is about a good man, brutalised by war, haunted by violence and apparently doomed to return to it – yet resolved to find kindness again, in the world and in himself. It has many lessons for today.

In this event Robin Robertson talks about and reads from his work, and interweaves material from classic noir films.

This event is part of Festival of the Future City

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