This film is part of Free
Cathedral in Our Time
Paddy's Wigwam', Liverpool's iconic Catholic cathedral, opens its doors for the first time.
Paddy’s Wigwam', Liverpool's iconic Catholic cathedral, opens its doors for the first time. This documentary commemorating the occasion is an absorbing watch and an elegant piece of filmmaking. It continually shifts between footage of the cathedral's first Mass and planning and construction scenes shot months earlier - as if to echo Sir Frederick Gibberd's simple yet intricate circular design for the building.
The birth of the Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral, on the same street as the then still-under-construction Anglican cathedral, was a significant moment for Catholics in the city and beyond. But the film's response to their faith feels a bit superficial and worthy. Sponsored by the engineering practice which implemented Gibberd's design, it's more interesting on the construction scheme itself. On the soundtrack, Cardinal Heenan's homily is interwoven with choral singing, bible extracts - and the pragmatic, informative voices of draughtsmen, craftsmen and engineers. Resisting the all-too-common temptation of engineering films to laboriously record every logistical detail, this is an intelligent, measured industrial documentary for a general audience. (Incidentally, its director, Bob Kellett, later became a prolific director of saucy lowbrow comedies...)