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On the Mountain

Margaret Tait
1974
32 mins b/w and Colour 16mm

On the Mountain

Tait's brilliant reinvestigation of Edinburgh's Rose Street

"There's a film within a film, here. A film called Rose Street is enclosed, intact with academy leader, censor's certificate and credit and end titles, inside a picture of the street in 1973, to make together, On the Mountain.Rose Street, Edinburgh, is a street I knew well in all the years that Ancona Films had premises there. I saw it changing from being a place of overcrowded tenements, children playing in the street, pubs and small shops serving people who lived there, among others, into a pedestrian precinct with trendy boutiques and blocks of offices. The Rose Street Pubs always having been a notable part of Edinburgh life, we find, in the stretch of street treated in the film, that the Kenilworth and the Goblet (once Scarlett's Bar) are still there, one changed much more than the other, and that there's a new one called The Galloping Major.The film is about the life of the street. In the old days, children played peever on the pavement and 'chainy tig' in the back lane, and sang skipping songs: nowadays, shoppers can amble along in the middle of the street. The smoke has gone, but the (seemingly) same rubbish cart collects the refuse, and the same window cleaner is washing the very same window as sixteen years before, although the shop has a different name.
In 1973 there were still some great gap sites, towards Princes Street and towards George Street, with beavering bulldozers in their depths. I have to tried to catch some of this turmoil, while the ghosts of the budding footballers of 1956 kick a ball around on the cobbles.' - Margaret Tait

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