Edindocs: The Registrars

THE REGISTRARS reveals the workings of Edinburgh’s main register office, which sees hundreds of births, marriages and deaths being dealt with every day. The film pieces together many different vignettes, reflecting the various situations the staff have to deal with there, including organising non-religious weddings (some of which turn out to be sham), naming ceremonies and awarding citizenship to immigrants.

“you’re constantly reminded of your own fate.”

It’s a fascinating little glimpse of the necessary bureaucratic workings of the modern state, and how seemingly simple paperwork actually disguises huge emotional upheavals in people’s lives. What the film slowly reveals is how these upheavals impinge on the staff who work there. One woman who clearly loves her job has earned the nickname the ‘Wedding Queen’. Musings on the afterlife and the various different wedding vows that come their way inevitably inspires an emotional response. As one employee says, “you’re constantly reminded of your own fate.” A sense of humour is clearly a must.

The camera floats around, capturing little moments of joy or sadness. Despite the subject matter, it’s not particularly profound or revelatory – there are no big shocks or bust-ups, as most of the ceremonies take place behind closed doors – but then it doesn’t set out to be. A lightweight, but modestly uplifting piece.