‘Refuge England’ – preview of a film from the forthcoming UCL Urban Migration Film Festival

This is the first of a series of blogs in which we preview some of the films we’re going to show at the UCL Urban Migration Film Festival on February 15th (see how to sign up below).

Today’s featured film is Refuge England (Robert Vas, 1959). It is one of the two films we will be showing over the festival lunch break. The film, important cinematically in its own right, as one of the films funded by the BFI Experimental Film Fund, captures many of the themes which will be discussed on the day. The position of the refugee migrant within his alien urban environment is repeatedly reinforced by the narrative, which shows the fictitious Hungarian refugee arriving in London at Waterloo Station with one word of English (refugee) and an incomplete address for his first point of arrival – Love Lane*. The film follows the protagonist as he wanders round London’s streets trying to find the elusive Love Lane, where, if he is successful, he will make his first footings in his country of choice. The film demonstrates the varied responses to the environment, from wonder at the exotic sites and people of the city, to despair at repeatedly failing to find his destination. Film critics have commented that there is an element of flâneur to his wandering, although I’m not sure I agree that the focused, determined quest to find a home corresponds to the ‘strolling’, ‘loafing’ aspect to wandering that flâneur suggests.

You can view more information about the film here – http://www.screenonline.org.uk/film/id/439053/index.html

Sign up for the UCL Urban Migration Film Festival here

* This is reminiscent of Anne Kershen’s history of 19th century migration to the UK, where she points out that many new arrivals arrived at the ports of London and Hull with ‘a few pathetic belongings’ and just one vital document, ‘a piece of paper upon which was written the legend LEEDS’.

[Kershen, Anne. Uniting the Tailors: Trade Unionism Amongst the Tailors of London and Leeds, 1870-1939. Ilford, Essex: Frank Cass & Co., 1995, p. 36]

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About (sub)urbanite

Professor of Urban Form and Society and Director of the Space Syntax Lab, Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL. Online in a personal capacity.
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2 Responses to ‘Refuge England’ – preview of a film from the forthcoming UCL Urban Migration Film Festival

  1. Pingback: Full list of films screened at the #UCL Urban Migration Film Festival and Symposium | Urban Migration Films

  2. Willie says:

    This is really the fourth post, of urs I really checked
    out. Still I like this 1, Hunter Douglas “Refuge England –
    preview of a film from the forthcoming UCL Urban Migration Film Festival | Urban
    Migration Films” the most. Thank you -Adrienne

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