“Call for a Poetic City” is the dreamlike observational documentary by Elisabeth Felson that documents life at Ross Nye Stables—the longest-established riding school in Central London’s Hyde Park.
Originally from Queensland, Australia, the Nye family immigrated to the region in the 1960s where Nye opened the Hyde Park school giving the community the opportunity to ride and learn horsemanship regardless of age or skill.
The appropriately titled film is indeed poetic featuring very few speaking scenes and instead relies on the lyrical aesthetic of the cinematography to document the daily rituals of the stables. Viewers with a love of equestrianism will adore how warmly the horses are depicted and perhaps find themselves pining for a time when they can go riding again too.
The film features a divine score composed by Jonny Greenwood (lead guitarist of Radiohead) and is performed by the Australian Chamber Orchestra, a seemingly touching nod to Ross Nye’s Australian roots, which muses beautifully with the on-screen imagery.
One of the most moving moments in the film occurs towards the last ten minutes when viewers get to see the venerable Nye with his daughter who reflects lovingly on her father’s life and career, as well as her own work carrying on his legacy at the riding school.
The senior Nye sadly passed away in 2020 at the age of 93 making his moments in the film seem all the more precious.
The focus of “Call for a Poetic City” on the day-to-day life at the stables, more so than on Nye himself, is a dazzling tribute to his life’s work and the equestrian community he helped create. Seeing the joy and enthusiasm the young riders in the film have for the animals fills one with a great sense of optimism and hope that the love of riding derived from the stables will be an underlying current in Hyde Park for generations.