Review: Living in a Coded Land

Pat Collin’s film is all about the middle, namely Co Westmeath

Film Title: Living in a Coded Land

Director: Pat Collins

Starring: N/A

Genre: Documentary

Running Time: 80 min

Tue, Feb 18, 2014, 16:50


Pat Collins’s documentary oeuvre is frequently characterised as Slow Cinema. We’re not so sure. True, the film-maker’s visual essays, although contemplative and associational, could seldom be confused with the urgent, lens-based pamphlets of Adam Curtis.

To date, Collins’s ruminations on the west ( Tim Robinson: Connemara and Pilgrim ), emigration ( What We Leave in our Wake ) and assorted artists (John McGahern, Abbas Kiarostami, Gabriel Byrne) have maintained a graceful pace: all the better to scope out fascinating connections and provide pause for thought. But don’t be fooled by the rhythms and the nostalgia-making archive footage of the Drimoleague director’s cinematic exploration of the Irish midlands.

Living in a Coded Land is all about the middle, namely Co Westmeath, and its shifting relationship with colonial and national powers. And the middle as in middlemen, who rose up under British rule as the cattle hands of the 1600s and who continue, spiritually speaking, to dominate the nation as bankers and managers. None of the film’s many contributors – academics, historians, cartographers – feel obliged to add that middle men are only capable of middling outcomes. Slow? Look closer.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Screen Name Selection


Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.