The Dilapidated Dwelling (2000)
Patrick Keiller


The Dilapidated DwellingBritish helmer Patrick Keiller’s third feature, The Dilapidated Dwelling (2000), constructs its discourse around the housing industry in Britain. Examining how buying a house in England is becoming an increasingly expensive affair – at a time when capitalism, ironically, provides us with every facility to bring the world inside our homes – Dwelling presents an elaborate critique of modern British architecture, while branching off into other directions as well. Keiller seems to have found in the housing system some sort of blind spot in the economic logic of late capitalism, wherein its claims – apparent freedom of choice for the consumer, predictable demand-supply-price relationships and total automation – run into dead ends. Taking off from this, Keiller investigates the work of Buckminster Fuller, whose futuristic designs for mass-produced houses could never see the daylight, in order to find out why automated housing systems – such as in Japan – could never make it in the West. Unlike any of his other films, Keiller uses interviews and news reels in Dwelling, making the film more conventional and streamlined than his other works. But then, facets that pretty much define Keiller’s cinema, like the love-hate relationship between image and sound (Keiller’s images always seem to float feely underneath the tight textual fabric), moods and surfaces, the private and the public, the visible and the intangible, psychology and sociology (abandoned in the later works), the aesthetic and the ethical (the paradoxical narratives of his early short films), literature and cinema (his cinema is, in a way, about the corresponding advantages and shortcomings of both), also mark Dwelling, which explores the intertwined relationship between social and domestic formations and which attempts to rethink spaces – national, ideological and domestic.