Speak For Yourself is a platform for artists and musicians to discuss what inspires and influences their work. Terence Davies is one of England’s most talented, but sporadic, filmmakers. His eloquent films tackle the stubborn and pungent issues that permeate the English way of life. The stifling powers of religion, monarchy and sexuality all fall under Davies’ impressionistic gaze. His most recent film, the epic ode to Liverpool: Of Time and the City, is available on the Terence Davies Trilogy, just released by the BFI. Here Davies pays homage to his biggest influences. As told to Daniel Tapper.
Liverpool: The Liverpool I knew and grew up in has long gone- like in ‘Ozymandias’, the lone and level sand of memory drift further and further away. All the little nooks and crannies that make a city- Tempest Hey, Leather Lane, The Cotton Exchange all are gone. Running down the side of Great Charlotte Street- Old St. John’s Market- where at Christmas you bought your fruit and perhaps a small dog for a small brother and when you got home pouring the tissue-covered tangerines into a cheap blue cut glass bowl on the sideboard.
Anton Bruckner: Places in the heart, in the memory- fading now and will continue to fade until the town and who were , are forgotten. Then accidentally, one Sunday afternoon I discovered the Austrian composer Bruckner and the 8th Symphony. A great revelation burst over me and burned into my consciousness- much like my other wonderful accidental discovery.
Johannes Vermeer: His vision is as still and silent as amber- the moment caught yet containing all the moments ever caught, ever remembered or pressed into a book or written on the back of a sepia photograph- Vermeer’s quiet belief. Bruckner’s massive faith and hope in God which -even in an atheist like me- his music makes my soul feel burnished by the sun.
T.S. Eliot: Thrilling and terrible- making “the soul’s sap quieter” as Eliot put it..as.. in 1962 I saw Alec Guinness over four nights on prime television read (from memory) the whole of The Four Quartets– then suddenly time and perception, mortality and death seeming all one, all whole- even with the dying of the light.