Segments in this Video

Introduction: London Orbital (03:23)


London is being urbanized. Iain Sinclair will examine locations around the M25 highway by traveling on foot. (Credits)

Making the Circle (03:16)

Sinclair takes Chris Petit to see his favorite location on the M25, where a soap factory, Saxon church, and garage are located. See footage and listen to radio callers discuss issues with the bypass.

Time Travel (04:15)

Petit's grandfather publishes an account of a journey to the Amazon the same year HG Wells releases "The Time Machine." Renchi Bicknell and Sinclair walk from Waltham Abbey to Staines seeing golf courses, asylums, and dog kennels. The M25 is draining energy like the Millennium Dome.

New Memories (06:07)

Effie Paleologou records the traffic as a device for meditation. Rachel Lichtenstein traces individual's history at the Jewish Cemetery at Waltham Abbey. Petit travels the M25 for days without a cell phone; Bicknell sketches the motorway gathering inspiration.

Go Into Orbit (04:45)

John Sergeant receives a package with the press release from the Department of Transportation on the completion of the highway. Other objects named M25 include a star, welding gun, brand of ecstasy, inflatable sofa, light bulb, and video game. Petit asserts that ecstasy, covert arms dealings, and Essex gangsters comprise the invisible triangle of Thatcherism.

Tributaries to M25 (07:24)

Petit and Jock McFadyen drives down the A13 to photograph buildings. Further east debris litters the roads. A brother of one of the accused explains why the Rettendon murders occurred.

Place Overrides Personality (04:52)

The Tesco Country Club and the Abbey National Center of Excellence now reside where Christopher Wren's Temple Bar once existed. Petit compares himself to the fugue walker in Iain Hacking's "Mad Travelers." The M25 resists nostalgia and is dubbed "the road to hell."

Post Production (05:05)

The highway resists filming, editing, and a linear interpretation. Sinclair realizes that the M25 is a doorway to another reality and becomes a simile. Petit laments recording digitally instead of on film.

Epsom Cluster (03:28)

Bicknell collects rocks to commemorate the unrecorded dead at the Long Grove and Horton Hospitals. Other asylums near the M25 include Napsbury and Shenley, Petit describes how landfills, surveillance cranes, and pylons exist nearby.

Listening to the Ghosts (03:25)

A rabbi in Jerusalem convinces Lichtenstein to write a book about David Rodinsky, a hermit who disappeared without a trace. His grave is located in Waltham Abbey.

M25 Is a Department (10:00)

John Sergeant sees himself as the navigator of the M25 and asserts that ingredients in the road tarmac are tend times more powerful than Agent Orange. The highway seems tighter after each loop. Petit compares the relationship of Thatcher and Augusto Pinochet to vampire lovers.

No Past or Future (03:16)

There is no social hierarchy on the M25. JG Ballard describes how England has changed and become transient in the past decades. Motorists opt for either the suspension bridge in Purfleet or the Runnymede Bridge in Staines.

Siebel Building (03:24)

Bicknell, Uziyel, Sargeant, and Sinclair all have different experiences with the construction near Heathrow Airport. The building does not possess security, dogs, or CCTV.

Surveillance (02:21)

Film is past and digital technology is the beginning of a new kind of time. There will not be as much privacy or individuality.

Inertia and Dissolution (03:45)

Sergeant leaves the road to explore an island nearby and then returns to America. Petit searches for the perfect shot. M25 meets M21 at the Golden Triangle of Watford.

Bluewater (07:11)

The chalk pit in Kent boasts a new retail shopping center. Ballard requests M25 and the Bentall Center be destroyed. Petit compares Bluewater to a suicide note.

Credits: London Orbital (00:48)

Credits: London Orbital

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London Orbital

DVD (Chaptered) Price: $199.95
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $299.93
3-Year Streaming Price: $199.95



London Orbital is an extraordinary and visionary film by Chris Petit and Iain Sinclair about the world’s largest by-pass, the M25. This is a road movie, a cinematic excursion into the futuristic literature of a century past, and a film dialog between two writers who are also filmmakers (and vice versa).

Length: 77 minutes

Item#: BVL194794

ISBN: 978-1-64867-420-4

Copyright date: ©2004

Closed Captioned

Reviews & Awards

‘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

Performance Rights

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Not available to Home Video and Publisher customers.