Leena Sidat reviews Portrait of Wednesday, Bury Cine Society’s evening of historical films which was seen at The Met on Tuesday 27 March 2018.

It was a great turnout in The Box at The Met on Tuesday night, with an exclusive film screening of a dramatised documentary about life in Bury from the Sixties by the local Bury Cine Society that has been running since 1959.

The night began with a brief look at the Society’s commemorative fiftieth anniversary film from 2010, titled Bury Cine Society at 50, which follows the history of the town and Society through the years. This film collates segments from the various productions of the Cine Society, including glimpses at the formation of the new Bury Metropolitan Borough, a sequence on the Lancashire Fusiliers, discussing the history of the regiment, and the opening of the East Lancashire Railway on 25th July 1987, with the expansion of this line in April 1991. Also featured were lovely montages of families picnicking in the summer, children playing, horse riding and fairs bustling with people, which, you could tell, made the audience incredibly nostalgic.

Portrait of Wednesday, produced in 1963, was first publicly shown in May 1964 at the Derby Hall. It depicts a typical working day in the period, focusing on the activities of select characters, which include an engineer, his wife and their typist daughter; a local government officer’s family; a young nurse in training; and a student collecting information for a thesis. The film follows these figures, overseeing them at work in the office/hospital, attending council meetings, school life, planning an evening movie date, joining art classes, as well as a glimpse of the nightlife where couples would go dancing, and policemen patrolling late at night.

Also featured was a narrative voice-over at the film’s beginning in which a pensioner reflects on his youth and the changing town of Bury.

Concentrating on ordinary events rather than extraordinary ones, the film seemed reminiscent of old home movies and portrayed a sense of the simplicity of life before the technological age dawned and was fully underway. A sentimental and authentic piece, the film’s images resonated with the audience, with comments on how much things have changed, like cars, but yet a lot has remained the same.

A slice of history, frozen in time, Portrait of Wednesday is an enlightening piece documenting Bury’s earlier days and significant, or perhaps not so significant, changes, which is greatly enjoyed by older audiences reminiscing on their youth, or introducing a younger community to a bygone age.

Portrait of Wednesday film screening