100 minutes
June 2004
Download (SD, mp4)

London Orbital

‘Maverick British director Chris Petit has produced one of this year’s eeriest and most haunting films, London Orbital, a threnody to the M25.‘ Sunday Telegraph 

‘It is a mediation on the M25 and gives an intriguing history of the occult archaeology of London that the ring-road discloses … Petit has witty and playful apercus for every mile he covers.’ The Guardian

Celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2022, London Orbital is an extraordinary and visionary film by Chris Petit and Iain Sinclair about the world’s largest by-pass, the M25. Produced for Channel 4, London Orbital is a road movie, a cinematic excursion into the futuristic literature of a century past, and a film dialogue between two writers who are also filmmakers (and vice versa).

London Orbital is, among other things, a meditation on the difference between driving and walking. On Bram Stoker’s “undead”, on H.G. Wells and J.G. Ballard. On time and memory. On the difference between film and tape, sound and image. On trance states and the terror that lies beyond boredom; on shopping and terrorism; on Kabul and the leisure mall. On the invisible triangle of Thatcherism (covert arms deals, Essex gangsters, and drug dealing). On Pinochet and Thatcher as vampire lovers.

Iain Sinclair is the author of London Orbital, a book about his walk around the 120-mile road. Chris Petit elected not to make ‘the film of the book’ and chose instead to drive and to capture in images the peculiar hallucinatory state that driving provokes.

The DVD and download include 3 exclusive features: 

• An extended interview with Chris Petit and Iain Sinclair about the genesis, production, and afterlife of London Orbital, its relationship with Iain Sinclair’s acclaimed book, its unique visual language, and why it is more a film about alien invasion than a documentary on the M25.

• Extracts from a 3-screen re-mix of additional London Orbital footage created by Chris Petit for a one-off performance event at London’s Barbican Centre.

• A filmed feature on Iain Sinclair and Chris Petit’s follow-up project: a virtual film about the A13, inspired by Sinclair’s novel Dining on Stones, and taking the form of a walk and an allusive exhibition at The Wapping Project in the summer of 2004.

Exclusive to the digital version

  • A new interview with Chris Petit and Iain Sinclair was filmed in 2022 and released as part of the 20th anniversary of London Orbital.



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