Jane and Louise Wilson's film explores the brutalist architecture and urban spaces along the famous route of the Bupa Great North Run, often focusing on the relationship of runners to these spaces.
broken time traces the journey of the mass of participants traveling through the city of Newcastle, into suburban Gateshead and out to coastal South Shields. The crowds of runners thin out as they move from the enclosed urban landscape out to the wide expanse of the coastline and the openness of the sea.
The shots taken during the 2004 Great North Run are intercut with detailed choreographed portraits of lone athletes. Filmed at the Gateshead multi-storey car park with Danielle Watts, Mark Rostron and Ryan McLeod, their stark silhouettes, stretching and preparing to run, are framed within the large windows that overlook Newcastle and Gateshead.
The title broken time refers not only to the fractured and fragmented narrative of the film and to athletes' aims to break sporting records but also to the practice at the turn of the 20th century of paying athletes for the time they missed from work due to sporting commitments. These payments were known as Broken Time and enabled many athletes, particularly footballers, rugby players and runners, to take part in sports events. This spirit of encouraging people to get involved, get fit and be part of an active community endures today though events such as the BUPA Great North Run.
"In their film the Wilsons show how even spectating has advanced to become its own kind of performance art. They are excited by the way people on the route take possession of places that were never meant to invite human occupation: the cobble-crusted oases, for example, where vast V-shaped concrete buttresses make contact with the earth and are normally unreachable across the lanes of speeding traffic. Or the slip-roads of the elevated motorways that the buttresses are supporting, where pedestrian interlopers could normally expect to be mowed down. I took broken time to be in part a reiteration of Corbusier's belief that architecture "is appreciated while on the move, with one's feet ... while walking, moving from one place to another." The Guardian