Reaktion Books, £18. Order for £18 (free p&p) from the Independent Bookshop: 08430 600 030
Drive: Journeys Through Film, Cities
and Landscapes, By Iain Borden
The book generally cruises along at an exhilarating speed over scenic routes
Sunday 24 February 2013
You’ve seen the films, now read the book. Well, some of the films: Bullitt with its phenomenal car chase, ditto The French Connection, maybe Mad Max, not to mention Grand Prix, Thelma & Louise and Smokey and the Bandit.
These are some leading examples of the vroom-vroom school of film-making. Iain Borden, an architectural professor whose previous books include Skateboarding, now turns his attention to larger wheels, mainly of the sort that feature conspicuously in petrol-driven movies.
Although, as often with Reaktion’s intriguing publications, Drive sometimes takes an annoying detour into structuralism-speak, it generally cruises along at an exhilarating speed over scenic routes. This is one of the few books whose chapters are organised by speed limits. Chapter One: urban motoring at 30mph. Two: rural roads up to 55mph. Three: motorways at 70mph. Four: motorway madness at 100mph.
Borden claims to have made an exhausting journey through 450 films, from the 1900 short with the blunt title How it Feels to be Run Over. Many familiar titles have motoring as one of their themes. A billion cars were manufactured during the last century, so it is no wonder that the silver screen shows how they affect our lives – and indeed deaths, as in JG Ballard’s Crash.
In the high-powered Grapes of Wrath, it is thanks to their Hudson Super Six that the family of Oklahoma sharecroppers can make their epic trek west. Paper Moon is a far-from-depressing Depression yarn in which the protagonists chug along a mere vehicle-length ahead of poverty. As in On the Road, a speeding vehicle can mean freedom and two fingers signalling a U-turn to convention.
Borden gives to The Italian Job (original version) the credit for first showing, via those cheeky Minis in Turin, the wicked joys of urban driving. He clearly didn’t stay for the film’s credits, as he misses off the final part of its creator’s name. When I wrote the scriptwriter’s obituary three years ago, he was called Troy Kennedy Martin.
BBC Trust agrees to axe channel from TV in favour of digital moveTV
Final Top Gear reviewTV
FestivalsFive ways to avoid the portable toilets
Jurassic WorldThe results are completely brilliant
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 iPhone 7 (or iPhone 6S) leaked pictures show similarities to older model — but Apple is fixing the biggest issue of all
- 2 David Cameron refers to 83-year-old Labour MP Dennis Skinner as 'Jurassic Park'
- 3 Alton Towers Air breaks down: 80 people stuck on broken down Monorail during heatwave
- 4 'Help me I'm trapped in a factory' messages keep being found on bottles of vitamin water
- 5 German ethics council calls for incest between siblings to be legalised by Government
Game of Thrones season 6: Daenerys actress Emilia Clarke says '50/50 chance' Jon Snow is alive
Jessie Cave interview: Harry Potter's Lavender Brown has published a collection of feminist cartoons
Amy, film review: Beautiful film reveals ugly truth behind singer's downward spiral
'Dukes of Hazzard' pulled from screens by CBS as outcry over Confederate flag grows
London Has Fallen trailer release branded 'extremely insensitive' ahead of 10th anniversary of 7/7 bombings
The moment a Queen's Guard soldier lost it and drew his gun at annoying tourist
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
Greece crisis: The wider lesson is that it’s time to abandon this failed experiment in currencies
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert