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Return to Waterloo - Eagle Rock Entertainment - DVD Print E-mail
User Rating: / 3
Written by Jay Creepy   
Tuesday, 16 February 2016


AKA: Ray Davies: Return to Waterloo

Directed by: Ray Davies
Written by: Ray Davies
Produced by: Dennis Woolf
Cinematography by: Roger Deakins
Editing by: Geof Hogg, David Mingay
Music by: Ray Davies
Cast: Kenneth Colley, Tim Roth, Claire Parker, Ray Davies, Valerie Holliman, Wanda Rokicki
Year: 1984
Country: UK
Language: English
Color: Color
Runtime: 57 min

Distribution: Eagle Vision/Eagle Rock Entertainment

Anybody who hasn't listened to The Kinks or Ray Davies are either 1/ missing out on some truly original ahead of its time lyrically balls deep storytelling genius, or 2/ simply don't like that sort of music. Fair enough.

Return to Waterloo is known as a Ray Davies solo adventure, however the rest of the band play on the soundtrack album, so could it be called a Kinks excursion? Well, the made for TV film based around the music is simply Ray's brainchild, and within its short time eclipses all the atmosphere and emotions found in The Wall (Pink Floyd) and Tommy (The Who) without the awesome Oliver Reed to be found anywhere.

Return to Waterloo has unfortunately been quite forgotten up against such titans of music and their films, which is a shame, because I personally see this as a master work. The storytelling on each track is second to none, and even without the film you can visualise every person and every situation sung about.

I think what makes Ray Davies original is just that he has always refused to follow trends, even against money making giants, he does his own thing, in his own world. Whilst most known bands in the 60s either erupted large against the scene or faded away in the 70s, The Kinks carried on, quietly and garnered a cult following through the 70s and 80s with some of their best material yet.

Return to Waterloo came out in 1984 and instead of Oliver Reed or Bob Geldoff, it has a short but memorable role for Tim Roth!

Ken Colley (Return of the Jedi, Life of Brian, Firefox) stars as a commuting traveller who remains nameless as we follow his journey on the train. However, our first introduction to him is past a busking Ray Davies who strums the theme to the movie. It appears that our traveller is stalking a headphone wearing young city girl through the tunnels of Waterloo station. He pauses to lose his temper with a drinks machine and images flash by of what is to become (or what has maybe happened already).

Weatherman, Michael Fish, is on the TV. Our man sits beside his wife silently at home. Ray Davies sings: “Started off this morning as usual, checking out the mail and all the bills to pay. Maybe something special's gonna happen, Maybe this is my lucky day.....” as we follow his journey from the house with a loveless kiss to his wife. Her empty soulless eyes watch him leave from the window. We intercut briefly, some years prior, as himself as a child is smiling and running down the street, then back to his monotonous stroll to the train station.

As he pays for his ticket, he watches and follows a woman to a newsstand. Newspapers have the headline RAPIST Another Victim and the artist’s impression on the front looks uncannily like him. “A widespread manhunt for the Surrey rapist....” says a TV set as we flash to him wandering an empty bedroom lost in thought.

Seated on his train, he stares from the window as it pulls out. Opposite, sits three identically dressed salesmen or business men reading their newspapers. The next song, Ladder of Success (frustratingly it isn't on the soundtrack album and is unavailable anywhere) is sung by the men in question to each other and covers a young man who enters the business world and loses his identity but makes money. It simply attacks schools and conformity and has a nice dance routine half way through. “Stand in line, join the queue, Play the game with the right attitude.....

By this time, whether you're a Kinks fan or a music lover, you realise this little film is something special because every note and every word has a nice feel and a great atmosphere. In our travellers mind, he arrives to his destination and has a big car waiting for him. As the movie goes on, we see many sides of himself and scenes born in his imagination as he is sat on the train.

On we go and he watches at the next stop. Two parents are waving their daughter goodbye and the next song heads deep into the minds of concerned parents whose kids leave home. He thinks about his own daughter from a baby to a beautiful grown up teen who herself left home recently. Afterwards he leers at a girls legs, and is seen by two old women who begin to talk about him. One of the women is recognisable to the UK public as the actress who played Ethel in the long running soap, Eastenders (Gretchen Franklin). In this she gets to say: “Let him try it, I'll kick him in the bollocks!” which is quite funny.

The next song starts as a woman reading the paper looks as if she's put two and two together with his face. She leaves the train in shock, watching him. However, as the slow mellow tune progresses, it is about his daughter, how he appeared to be way too close to her, and how she went missing after leaving home. The lyrics are devastating and get deep inside you right to the tragic conclusion which answers a few questions, especially why he and his wife are so distant. (“...and I'm thinking about her all the time.....”)

The movie suddenly changes pace as Tim Roth and his punk gang enter the train blasting out music. This segment is an absolute blast and makes you smile. Our traveller is teasingly seduced by a punk girl, Tim Roth sings, but best of all is the energetic build up which starts as two old soldiers lament the state of England and the youth. Tim and his pals retort in song and then start attacking the passengers. Tim Roth pulls a gun, and his mate launches at a blind woman who has a knife, slicing up his face. The traveller runs from the carriage in terror. When he returns, everything is normal, so it seems it was all his feverish imagination.

Stopping to try and make a phone call to his wife, she picks up, he cannot speak, just hangs up. Along comes Lonely Hearts, a heart chomping ballad wherein his wife has written to the Lonely Hearts column in the newspaper trying to find answers to their relationship. Agony Aunt, Claire Raynor speaks to her from the TV set, as she sits alone at home against the wall in a daze. He hears the letter read through the tannoy system at the station. It covers their marriage, their daughter. This is one of those moments in Return to Waterloo which conveys more emotions than any other rock opera.

The short film wraps up nicely and you're left wishing it could have been longer. It's not just the songs, it's the faultless acting talent from everybody involved. A lot is just facial expressions; a drop of the eyes, a faint smile, all done with perfect timing. The direction is weeping and very visual, taking in all the details of his journey with a sort of dull leaden monotony which gives to his flights of fantasy throughout.

Simply put, Ray Davies made a masterpiece which stays with you afterwards. Touching on subjects as youth violence, rape, and incest, but keeping as a PG in the U.K. is an interesting skill in itself. It needs more than one viewing to truly digest and as a bonus, the DVD comes accompanied by Come Dancing with The Kinks, a compilation of their videos around the late 70s and through the 80s, including two live songs. Their classics, Come Dancing, State of Confusion and Don't Forget to Dance are all included. What a bonus!!

By the way, avoid the version on YouTube, the sound is out of synch and is rather distracting.



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 Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 4:3
 Region: PAL R0
 Audio: Dolby Digital Stereo

 – Come Dancing With The Kinks (36 min)

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