Bargaintown – Film Review


This digital restoration from 16mm negative elements has been supported by the IFI and by the Goethe-Institut Irland.

Director David Jazay

Duration – 70 minutes

Hurry on down to Bargaintown…

This is a documentary by German director David Jazay which was originally filmed in 1988 in Dublin, the millenium celebration of our fair city. The film was recently rediscovered and the 16mm film restored with the help of the Goethe-Institut Irland.

The opening shots of this documentary are a collection of images of the quays in Dublin. Its buildings, some in various states of decay, some looking quite sturdy. All the time the song of the street sellers echos. They are evocative shots and makes you appreciate all that has changed in the intervening years, with the cars and buses of the time looking distant. Even the faces of the passers by look somehow from another time, along with their clothes, glasses, bags and other items. After five minutes of these street scenes, Bargaintown carpets comes into view and the screen fades to black.

We get an interview with a rather stiff young man that works in an antique shop in lower Ormond quay. He talks of the traffic damaging the buildings and the loss of some of the older buildings for shopping centres and other modern structures. The interview is a one sided affair, with only the shop keeper’s voice, as if he is alone facing a camera. There are a series of such interviews with shop workers, public house owners and other people who lived and worked along the quays. The constant themes of the traffic, vandalism and the loss of old buildings re-occur in these sound bites, as the owners talk about their city. We get to see singer Frank Quigley rocking out for several songs accompanied by his band. Some of the most powerful scenes are of the Workman’s Club along the quays with its members and the entertainers of dubious quality on the stage.

This is Ireland in 1988, although only 27 years ago, it is very much another world. It is an Ireland before we gained the prosperity of the Celtic Tiger years and then lost it again in rapid succession. It looks a poor city and the people are struggling. The interviews vary in quality depending on the character involved, the drum playing furniture shop owner seems a natural in front of the camera, along with those working in public houses. The images of the streets are shown without comment. Some streetscapes are instantly recognisable and have changed little in the intervening years, others are long since lost or distorted beyond recognition.  These images dwell on screen, allowing the viewer time to pick out different things from each of them. This is an interesting document of a time lost and will prove quite powerful for those that remember Dublin in the 1980s.

This was originally shown as part of the IFI Documentary Festival.

Exclusively at the IFI Dublin.


Categories: Header, Movie Review, Movies

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