Robinson in Space is an essay that is as erudite and British as it is dryly comic and ironic about landscape, poverty and the politics of power. The film is a sequel to Keiller's London, in which the university art lecturer Robinson makes an economic and geographical 'study' of the British capital. Now the recently impoverished Robinson has been commissioned by 'a well-known international ad agency' to investigate 'the problem of England'. It is not stated explicitly what that problem is. The project - partly prompted by Daniel Defoe's Tour through the Whole Island of Great Britain - takes Robinson and his invisible, anonymous travelling companion (the one who tells the story) to Eton and Cambridge, harbours and rivers, factories and shopping centres. Robinson quotes Oscar Wilde: 'It is only shallow people who do not judge by appearances. The true mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible...' Robinson bases his ideas about the failure of the economy on his own experiences: his uncertainty about getting a job, his roamings around the city, his preference for foreign brands. He starts to have his doubts when he finds an economic sector that only gives a few people work, but that ensures that the UK remains the fifth largest economic power in the world. He becomes convinced that the fall of England is the result of twenty years of political mismanagement. Robinson becomes decreasingly sure of himself, starts behaving strangely and is suddenly relieved of his commission.

Filmmaker
Patrick Keiller
Premiere
International premiere
Country
United Kingdom
Year
1997
Medium
35mm
Length
83’
Language
English
Producer
Illuminations Films, BFI British Film Institute
Writer
Patrick Keiller
Cinematography
Patrick Keiller
Editor
Larry Sider
Sound Design
Larry Sider