Duncan Campbell - Make It New John (4 stars)

Duncan Campbell - Make It New John

The iconic gull-winged DeLorean DMC-12 sportscar, famed for its appearance in the film Back to the Future, was the object of affection that triggered Glasgow artist Duncan Campbell’s initial interest for his new film. A nostalgic amalgam of 1980s fetishisation, America’s ‘right to drive’ and the elevation of the automobile as sacred object is all wrapped up in the macho mythology of one man: John DeLorean.

Through a fusion of original footage and cinema verité style documentary, Make it New John tells the life story of American car engineer DeLorean and the rise and fall of his DMC car-manufacturing plant, set up in Belfast with public money in 1981 – the British government contributed 70% for a mere 4% equity.

Asking questions about the hand that feeds us, this uncommon cinema style provokes a challenging reflection of both its subject matter and that of retrospective representation. Strangely reminiscent of our current economic gamble, this 50-minute film spans several decades ending in a closing sequence wherein factory workers tell of their occupational dilemma and fears of redundancy. What first appears to be archival footage is soon revealed as a scripted piece: the dialogue seems choppy, the interaction between characters staged, and the actors themselves become a parody of their re-enactment. It is astounding to witness that even after his misuse of public money and allegations of embezzlement were exposed, the workers still refuse to blame John DeLorean for the closure of the factory. Are they too completely hypnotised by this uncanny equation of chrome with sex?

Tramway, Glasgow, until Sun 14 Mar

Duncan Campbell

  • 4 stars

The Glasgow-based artist presents a new film work that continues his interest in documentary film. 'Make It New John' looks back over the life of John DeLorean and the car plant he set up in Belfast. Combining archive material with newly-filmed footage, the film considers DeLorean's own personal rise and fall as echoed in…


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