Robinson in Ruins (Patrick Keiller, 2010)
A film featuring a long, static camera shot of a combine harvester tracking across a huge field of wheat is, I guess, not everyone’s idea of life-changing. However, I already loved Patrick Keiller’s films London (1994) and Robinson in Space (1997), which used keen observation and disconcerting voiceovers to tear Britain’s political economy apart. I was older when the final part of the trilogy came along, but just as enthralled. By looking long and hard at things no-one thought were important, Keiller laid bare the deep political history and significance of innocuous-looking fields in Oxfordshire. Watching the film, I realised I had to do something like this. I left my job working for a political think tank to study for a PhD at UCL on railways in London, and I started writing books about landscape, culture and cities. I am still in awe of Keiller’s weird instincts and piercing vision.