Lindsay Anderson John Berger - Essay

John Berger

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

There is an indication of Anderson's attitude right at the beginning of Every Day Except Christmas; it is affectionately dedicated to several of the Covent Garden porters whose twelve hours of work from midnight to mid-day are the subject of the film. The key word is affectionately. Personally I would never have used such a word; for me it has too many avuncular, dutiful associations. But Anderson gives it new associations and justifies his use of it by the film that follows. He approaches his heroes (there are no villains) and so also makes us approach them, on a basis of natural equality. He neither idealises them—nor does he "study" them…. What he does is to muck in with them…. Having dissolved the problem of his relationship to his subject, and having decided to leave in abeyance the question of what the single purpose, the concluding argument of the film is going to be, he is intensely open-minded, open-eared, open-eyed to the ironies, the contrasts, the undertones, the warm, momentary, human revelations in the scenes through which he takes his cameraman….

[The] imaginative connecting power of the [opening] sequence is remarkable. It connects numerous ideas. It suggests the middle class nature of the monarchy, the present "safeness" of English life, and in contrast to that, somewhere, a memory of what a London broadcast could mean to clandestine listeners during the war, the way those who work at night begin working rather silently, the apparent vulnerability of a sleeping city that leaves its lights on as a kind of bluff. Anderson does not of course expound these points. He simply acknowledges them as associations, as ingredients on...

(The entire section is 692 words.)