Christmas fair as unconvincing simulacrum of Dickensian London

by awindram

The Wapping that Kerwin Matthews’ Lemuel Gulliver sails from in The Three Worlds of Gulliver is notable for a cloudless, cobalt blue sky that only the laziest or desperate of Hollywood producers would try and pass off as East London.

I was thinking of that film and its perfunctory attempt at creating a convincing London as I wandered around a Dickensian Christmas fair at the weekend. A too blue sky and weather uncomfortably warm enough that those colorful souls in bonnets and top hats perspired unpleasantly meant there was little yuletide wonder to be found.

As often seems to be the case with these sorts of events there is a failure on the part of some to acknowledge the event’s absurdity. You come across it most often at Renaissance fairs where organizers will insist on the painstaking historical accuracy of their event – “Oh, this is definitely what a Tudor village would have been like and we’ve also all learned to speak in accurate Tudor accents.” – even though though the end result seems far more Monty Python than anything.

The people who turn up in deliberately anachronistic costumes – Elves, Star Trek Characters, Doctor Who – at least embrace the absurdity and know that the only way to do do something like this is to keep tongues firmly in cheeks. Culturally, it goes both ways. Can you imagine how cringe-worthy a Western-themed fair held in Peterborough would be? You would have to play it for laughs. I guess that is why the only notable cowboy film produced in the UK is Carry On Cowboy.