Above is the trailer for the next short film, Heavy Water. This is to be the longest film this year and the most ambitious in terms of scope in spite of future projects containing narratives and actors. Heavy Water ‘s difficulty is the connection of its two main themes represented by adjacent places on the Suffolk coast; the strange, liminal landscape surrounding Sizewell nuclear power station and the crumbling coastline of Dunwich up the coast. The difficulty has come in channelling the theme of Hauntology through such a geography, connecting some unforeseen nuclear calamity surrounding the plant with the past calamity of Dunwich itself falling into the sea. In many ways, the film’s chief aim is to capture the walk almost as a Borgesian aleph but zooming in upon two separate disasters, the “heavy water” of the title sitting in both the plant as a cooler and yet filtered out into the sea to take the very land itself away from the adjacent cliff-top coast. I walked this coastline last year while filming the final of what is to be a Suffolk trilogy of shorts, this being the first. Walking and seeing the strange dome of Sizewell B sparked off so many ideas that I was incredibly frustrated with myself for not bringing more film stock with me on the trip. Returning to its shores, the walk (which can be read about in more detail with 35mm photos in this article), took place on a hot, empty day yet the footage has come back eerily overcast, almost as if being degraded by radioactive fallout.
The film, whilst not mentioning anything to do with the writer, W.G. Sebald, inevitably channels some of his own morbid perception of the place; it’s a far more natural mindset to get into when walking those shores than it’s often accredited with and The Rings Of Saturn haunts the stretch of coast in the same way as a Jamesian ghost. There is something tangibly present in the darker undercurrents of its beaches, forests and sandy heath paths. The same atmosphere was captured by M.R. James in a number of his stories (though the 2nd of the Suffolk is being made to capture that specific character). Perhaps the chief aim of Heavy Water, however, is to open up the landscape, that of typical “green and pleasant” variety, to a more subverted presentation; especially in this time of utter political chaos, landscapes should be re-imagined and questioned if only to counter the romanticised and the nostalgia driven fantasy visions that places such as Suffolk often suffer from in post-Constable artwork – visions which bolster nationalistic idiocy with a disturbing ease and consistency. Most excitingly about this film is that it’s the second musical collaboration with composer Richard Skelton who I haven’t worked with since last year’s Holloway which, as I write, is almost a year old now. I’ll write more about this music when the film is finally available in August (which is currently set to on The Quietus early on in the month) but, suffice to say, when finally receiving Richard’s music while sat in a hotel in London, I had to sit for almost an hour listening to it before I could prise myself away from my laptop; its ebbing and flowing being hypnotic.
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