In this feature debut by former Time Out film critic Chris Petit, a man drives his Rover 105S from London to Bristol to investigate his brother’s suicide. This British road movie, a “contradictio in terminis” according to the director, was called “a film without cinema” because it didn’t follow any national trends, generated none of its own, and was rarely seen between release and recent reissue. Co-producer Wim Wenders brought his wife, actress Lisa Kreuzer from his road movie trilogy, into the project, as well as his camera assistant for the intense black-and-white photography. Radio On is on the wavelength of Michelangelo Antonioni’s vague mysteries or Monte Hellman’s quiet and existential Two-Lane Blacktop (1971). Unmoved, TV actor David Beames traverses a Ballardian landscape of motorways, flyovers, high-rises and rare English modernist architecture. “I’m not interested in plot or characters, but in movement, buildings and the weather,” Petit stated. This low-budget film is a snapshot of an every-man-for-himself post-punk, pre-Thatcher Britain that finds (emotional) meaning in listening to music: Bowie, Kraftwerk, Devo, Ian Dury, Robert Fripp, Wreckless Eric, … and Sting as a gas station attendant.
Restored by BFI and Silver Salt Restoration based on 4K scans of the original Ilford black and white 35mm negative and 35mm copies kept in the BFI National Archive.
• In collaboration with CINEA and Kunstencentrum BUDA
• As part of Classics Restored Festival
• With an introduction by Sven Hollebeke