One year in a field pales against the millennia the Longstone Stone has spent there. And the feature doc A Year In A Field feels like a mere fascinating glimpse at the cycles of life and human existence that have trundled past.
The Longstone has stood around 4,000 years in the field in West Cornwall. For A Year In A Field, documentarian director Christopher Morris gave himself a year to mark the changes of the seasons, watch the vastness of the ocean and witness the micro-movement of the fauna and flora.
Active in its meditation
A Year In The Field is active in its meditation on what this corner of Cornwall means, not just as a pillar to the ancients, but tied into today. It balances the natural world with contemporary ‘needs’: the farmer with the barley, the fashionista with bra set.
Beginning and ending on the Winter Solstice, what could be seen as a one man’s quiet, unnoticed vigil, captures the Longstone’s personality, and with it makes a plea to take things easy, take things in, and make things happen. The passive acceptance of what’s happening in the world may not be enough to maintain this – or any – natural and historic haven.
The welcoming shot might be a bit discombobulating (we had a mouse problem this summer), but its earth-level and down to earth view is arrestingly established. There’s a straight-forwardness to the subject matter.
The pacing adds to the intricate gaze and the feeling of wonder – there are times where it sounds like the director is even surprising himself.
Christopher’s commentary is thought-provoking and informative, building the web-like links that connect even the furthest reaches of the world with this quietly teaming corner of Cornwall. Facts and data combine with emotions and awe. With it, the senses are heightened, and the sound of nature – wind through grass, the buzz of insects or the barely perceptible crackle of a worm over leaves are almost tangible in their crispness. The multi-layered soundtrack and score is playful and inquisitive. It makes you alive to the everyday and the not so everyday.
Premiering at the Sheffield DocFest, this is Chris’ first documentary feature. Made with the support of Falmouth University’s Sound/Image Cinema Lab it’s a fabulous exponent of the technical qualities that dig beyond images and sounds on a screen to something more visceral. And, the filmmaking process also managed to limit its environmental impact.
A Year In A Field is meditative and provocative, urging thought and reconnection. Leading you to considering place and impact, linking the ancient world to the everyday. It’s tantalising, tempting, and opens up the straight-forward existence of the beguiling field in a confusingly connected world.
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