le Bois de Mametz - 24 Hour Film
Real time. High definition
(ProRes 422 Full HD 1920 x 1080)
24 hour loop
computer, custom wood frame, 55" screen vertical
ed 2/7 (+2AP)
This 24-hour film was shot in two dawn to dusk takes, at the height of summer and midwinter. It begins at dawn on July 10th, 2016, one hundred years to the day of the 15th Battalion of the Royal Welch Fusiliers’ sunrise attack on Mametz Wood during the Battle of the Somme.
The camera ascends the trunk of a tree from the ground to the sky. Tilting slowly and inexorably upward, it scans the length of the tree from its base to the canopy of leaves overhead. The camera then rotates in a circle, with a slow dissolve transitioning from summer to winter, when the tree has lost it leaves and its branches are bare. The camera then descends, recording the tree upside down, ending its journey at sunset focused on dead leaves at the base of the tree.
Conceived as a memorial to the wounded and dying, the film is shot from the vantage point of the soldier, first as he crawls through the leaves in the faint light of dawn, then, as the body slowly twists and tumbles backwards, eyes staring up at the flickering light filtering through the canopy of leaves. The film imagines the slow motion and ‘timelessness’ of the falling, fallen man, who in his last hours is left a vision of poetic beauty. A moment of incredible light before he closes his eyes.
An homage to David Jones, author of "In Parenthesis". Jones was wounded at the battle for Mametz Wood, but went on to a career as writer and painter. Among his most notable paintings is Vexilla Regis, 1947, the image of a tree uncannily similar to the subject of this film. First exhibited by the Redfern Gallery, and now in the collection of Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge, UK.
*Note: This is not the actual film. These sequences are a selection of 20 second segments with no transitions, excerpted from the original work.