Lift / Travellers / Calais: The Last Border

A short excerpt from the Booklet essay by Graeme Hobbs.

All three of these films – Calais: The Last Border, Lift, Travellers – are based in transitional areas, pinch points, places through which people travel to go somewhere, or hope to. It is in these places that Isaacs sows questions that take people off-guard, reconnecting them with the deeper motivations and themes of their lives.

The idea behind Travellers – getting people to talk about their relationships and ideas of love in railway carriages and stations throughout the land – resembles that of a classic British Transport Film promoting the unexpected benefits of train travel, a feeling enhanced by the shots of whooshing trains and platforms at sunset; but this is 2002, not 1952, and the storylines aren’t so easily tidied up. Relationships are broken, and as well as tales of new connections made and old loves maintained, we hear of hurt, pain, abuse and bullying in people’s lives. Throughout, people talk of love, its surge, and fear of its loss.

For all its unavoidably worn nature though, there is an underlying idealism here for the possibilities of making connections, of reaching across to give succour, and of the redemptive possibilities of love. One man’s incantation on the word runs throughout. As he shivers on a platform, his phrases punctuate the film: without love we can’t live together; without love we can’t say hello to each other; without love we can’t live peacefully: we need to sow love. It seems like he has been there forever, a crazy prophet, freezing at a nondescript station somewhere in England, sheltering from the wind in a plastic shelter on a mean yellow flip seat, and with words for us all to hear: we’re travellers you know, and all what we need in this world is love.

As the trains traverse the country, past backyards and past the sea, through wooded cuttings and dark winter fields, the amount of travellers, the volume of their stories, and the possibilities for their connection, multiply into journeys of endless possibility.

The films do not require neat endings; they leave us looking down roads and along railway lines, imagining the countless stories, of residents, of immigrants, of booze-trippers, of train passengers; travellers all.

Graeme Hobbs’ complete Essay, from which this excerpt is taken, appears in the booklet of the DVD release.


A short excerpt from the booklet

DVD Reviews

DVD Times by Noel Megahey
The Times by Wendy Ide
Moviemail Podcast by Graeme Hobbs

Film Reviews

Times Online on Calais: The Last Border
Time Out


(i) Documentary is Dead – Long Live Documentaries!
(ii) The Calais ‘Guantanamo’
(iii) 'Welcome' a new French film about the horrors facing young immigrants
The Guardian
The Independent
(iv) Music composer Michel Duvoisin

Disc Info

Lift / Travellers / Calais Boxshot

UK, 2001 / 2002 / 2003
Length / Lift: 25 minutes
Length / Travellers: 48 minutes
Length / Calais: The Last Border: 59 minutes
Special feature: 19 minutes
Sound: Original stereo (restored)
OAR: 1.33:1 Full Frame
Language: English
Region 0
RRP: £12.99
Release Date: 29th June 2009
Second Run DVD 042


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