Akeroyd Collection


Duncan Campbell, Make It New John, 2009

Make it New John takes the viewer on a tour through the second half of the twentieth century via an array of archival footage, highlighting the desire for technological innovation and personal reinvention that characterized the age and shaped the post-war period. The film goes further, and in its selection of materials, we see how these desires so commonly find expression in the seductive iconography of the American automobile industry. Taking this as its queue, Campbell’s film centres the story of John De Lorean, former General Motors Director, who came to Northern Ireland to open his own sports-car company in 1975. The manufacturer of one of the most iconic cars of the age, thanks to its appearance in the blockbuster movie, Back To The Future (1985), marked John De Lorean as one of the key propagators of the American dream. The film considers the British Government’s financial and ideological investment in the project after he located one of his factories in Belfast. The Government initially subsidized the venture to an astonishing degree, before finally Margaret Thatcher, after taking power, refused further financial support which led to the closure of the factory, and the collapse of the company. The film deftly contrasts the car’s glamorous image of upward mobility with its maker’s subsequent crash. The film also traces the repercussions of such failure in myriad ways. Firstly, it holds up the complex ideological implications of transitioning governments and businesses' inevitable reliance on public money. But most poignantly of all the film traces the impact on the factory workforce against a wider backdrop of intersectional issues of religious frictions that the factory went some way to alleviating through the levelling of good employment opportunities. The film presents a portrait, ultimately, of failed promises and broken dreams.

Medium16mm and analogue video transferred to digi-beta
Duration50 minutes 30 seconds
Editionof 6 + 2 APs