A Picture of Birmingham (2005)

To compliment a new series on England, this one-off special follows poet Benjamin Zephaniah as he tours Birmingham recalling the influence the city had on him as he grew up there and its ... See full summary »

Director:

Jacob Hickey
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Cast

Credited cast:
Benjamin Zephaniah ... Himself
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Storyline

To compliment a new series on England, this one-off special follows poet Benjamin Zephaniah as he tours Birmingham recalling the influence the city had on him as he grew up there and its continued influence on his work and life today. Charged with composing a poem about the city he revisits the areas of his youth, from Soho Road in Handsworth to Villa Park in Witton - home of Aston Villa football club. As his personal journey continues he visits his old schools and stomping grounds looking for inspiration. Written by bob the moo

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Genres:

Documentary

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Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

8 June 2005 (UK) See more »

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Interesting but perhaps a bit too personal to have massive appeal even to Brummies
28 June 2005 | by bob the mooSee all my reviews

To compliment a new series on England, this one-off special follows poet Benjamin Zephaniah as he tours Birmingham recalling the influence the city had on him as he grew up there and its continued influence on his work and life today. Charged with composing a poem about the city he revisits the areas of his youth, from Soho Road in Handsworth to Villa Park in Witton – home of Aston Villa football club. As his personal journey continues he visits his old schools and stomping grounds looking for inspiration.

Although billed as a look at Birmingham as a city from the perspective of Zephaniah, the focus is really on the latter rather than the former and it is your interest in him that will shape how much you like this film. Personally I find him a bit overbearing and too quick to play the "angry black man" card and be all a bit up himself – for example he accepted his name to go forward for the honours list but when it was announced then he turned round and rejected it. There are times in this film when he does just that and it is a bit annoying but mostly he is affable and interesting. His poetry may be a bit basic (dependant on taste) but he is creative regardless and he is worth watching for that.

This was fine to me but what was a problem was that the film is not really about Birmingham – but about his view of it. Once you get past this then it is interesting and his eventual poem is pretty good (if very short) but more in terms of what Birmingham is would have been preferable to him revisiting his old school out in the country. I understand it is a personal picture of Birmingham but it could have been a bit more focused and not allowed him to wander so much; likewise, many viewers will wonder why precious minutes in this short film were given over to Zephaniah watching Villa grind out a typically dour 0-0.

Overall this is an OK film but fans of Zephaniah will get more from it than people tuning in for a film about Birmingham. The personal aspect works for parts of it but others it means that it will have little interest for many of us – at least Soho Rd and Handsworth are areas people know and are interested in. OK as long as you know what it is doing but not worth seeking out.


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