It’s crazy to think that there are places in the world that are not like the places we live in and see every day. For example, the places underneath freeways are homes for the homeless, but we only ever see them as freeways and means to get around.
In Concrete Island, it was difficult at first for me to identify where it was that Maitland was stuck. After discussing it in class, it’s crazy to think that he genuinely was stuck, because if he tried hard enough, he easily could have gotten out. However, his mind began to roam free and cause him to stay on this island.
Structurally, I couldn’t follow the plot, if there even was one, because it was such a fragmented piece overall. The development of Maitland and watching him struggle was the interesting bit. After stepping away from civilization, he breaks away and goes back to primal and animalistic ways — he wants to take control and be in control of everyone and everything on this island. Even in the middle of London, he feels as though he is separated and apart from everyone else, from this modern city life where these nine to five jobs exist and families are at home having dinner. No longer can he connect with this world; he himself becomes a collection of bits and pieces.
The idea of how Maitland becomes this savage makes me think of the topic of my paper that I’m writing for this class. I want to explore the ways in which the time of Smithfield Market is constant at this stasis, and although Oliver Twist encourages the timeline to be linear, it’s difficult to get to that point when there’s always this one place that seems to be of primal nature.
Even with the juxtapositions in the film London, the idea of the new meets old is intriguing because we would think that as we move forward, we leave all of the past in the past and make room for the bigger and better. However, contrasts such as the JVC building and the debris in that one scene make us think about how this progress really isn’t progress at all. In the scene where we see the insurance building with the windows blown out, there is a brief moment where black appears, and we think that we are moving along with the movie, but it really just comes back to the same image. This reminded me of the idea of circularity of time, how just when we think we’re leaving the past behind and moving forward, we come straight back to where we started and no progress was made. In the post-modern era, all beliefs are gone, all hope is gone, impossibility is starting to sink in and we are again stuck in the same rut as we were in the 18th century. The progress made in the Victorian era has been useless because we came full circle, and shows that London itself is stuck in circular time within the different changes it has gone through. Another example would be how there are the same audio clips in the background playing, also signifying that there is no happy ending, just the same cycle repeating itself over and over again.
After being so hopeful with Hannah More, and getting a taste of progress and change with Oliver Twist, it’s hearkening to realize that we come straight back to this idea that we are truly stuck in the past. Maybe this happens for a reason, for us to improve and try to get better, but for now, there is no progress for a better future after so much effort has been put into it.