Kirkcaldy Man

Kirkcaldy Man


Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

Jocky Wilson came from Kirkcaldy, was twice World Darts Champion. Then he disappeared. Julian Schwanitz's film goes in search of him, and it makes for unsettling viewing.

Kirkcaldy was a town "built on coal and linoleum". Both are gone, indeed, absence is everywhere - the pub where he played darts is now a supermarket. The children playing in the street don't know his name. The residents talk about "Chinatown", another insular scheme, another decayed outpost of Scotland's vanished industrial heritage. Mixed with archive footage of Jocky's career, soundtracked by Max Richter's Horizon Variations, this is a film of limited scope and surprising vista. The North Sea stretching up to the sky, the boasts of those that claim to have beaten Wilson, to have thrown him out of here or there, to have played him at darts for a pint.

No statues, just a magazine section where the dartboard stood. No shortage of sense of place, among the deprivation and fading memories. At one point a map is drawn on the back of an envelope, the attempt abandoned because of "too much compilation". The North-Eastern accents are subtitled, accurately reflected if not slavishly transcribed - if nothing else certain dialectical features of Fife could have become distracting, eh?

For a documentary as much about a person, Schwanitz's motive is inscrutable. His technique is undeniable, methodical voiceover and shots of streets intercut with re-framed forearms, arrow after arrow from the ocky to the bull. There is a wistful quality to his narration, thematically appropriate. The mystery of Jocky Wilson is a strange one, a sad, one, more so when we get our answers. Wilson is become avatar of a place, a town made flesh - brief triumph, and then obscurity, his fate directly linked to that of Kirkcaldy. Parallels abound; the local darts league has disappeared too, but this film is not one to be overlooked. Seek it out.

Reviewed on: 13 Feb 2012
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A documentary about Jocky Wilson, his home town of Kirkcaldy and the mystery of his disappearance.
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Director: Julian Schwanitz

Year: 2011

Runtime: 18 minutes

Country: UK


Glasgow 2012

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