Project Overview

An ambitious work by this acclaimed Glasgow-based artist, Campbell’s multi-faceted film takes the viewer on an accelerated tour through the history of the second half of the twentieth century, highlighting the urge for technological innovation and personal reinvention that shaped the post-war period and reflecting how these new and often unformed desires found increasing expression in the seductive iconography of the American automobile industry. One of the prime movers in this new-model consumer economy was the engineer and entrepreneur John De Lorean, whose rise, first in one of the top jobs at General Motors , and then at the helm of his own sports-car company, marked him out as one of the key myth-makers and trail-blazers of the American dream.

Among the extravagant hopes that were invested in him were those of the British Government, who, following his suggestion that he locate one of his factories in Belfast, subsidised the venture to an astonishing degree, before finally (after Mrs Thatcher’s arrival in power) refusing any further financial support; one of the reasons for the closure of the factory, and the collapse of the company, in 1982. Combining archive material with newly-filmed footage, Make it new John looks again at this instructive (and intriguingly contemporary) episode. Hitching De Lorean’s rise and fall to the example of the slickly stylish but technically flawed DMC12 sports car that was produced at the factory (and was featured in the film Back to the Future, 1985), Campbell’s work deftly contrasts the car’s glamorous image of upward mobility with its maker’s subsequent crash. The film also traces the repercussions of that fall-out through its impact on the factory workforce and against a wider backdrop of failed promise and disappointed dreams.


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