It takes a certain kind of filmmaker with a distinctive vision to make a movie star out of a lichen-covered standing chunk of granite. Christopher Morris – not to be confused with Brass Eye’s Chris Morris – has risen to the challenge, crafting a beautifully tender and quaint 86-minutes around the Longstone, a 4,000-year old menhir that stands proudly overlooking the sea in West Cornwall. Morris has described A Year in a Field as a “quiet protest”, with hopes that it may raise important questions about our impact on the planet and the resulting climate crisis.
After Morris came upon the stone by accident after getting lost on a coastal walk, he spent six years photographing it as a side project and hobby while working in management at Falmouth University’s school of film and television. This naturally progressed to Morris working with video, and this visually stunning film is the result.
A Year in a Field is a gentle, meditative work, and is surprisingly compelling despite the film’s structure and tone that could be likened to the visual equivalent of a soft whisper. While films like Koyaanisqatsi may be similar in premise – a poetic vision of our planet and the human race’s impact upon it – none have ever done it quite so quietly. Koyaanisqatsi is known for Philip Glass’s oft-intense score, but you could hear a pin drop watching the equally absorbing A Year in a Field.
With Morris’ understated narration as our guide – and indeed only human company – the film can often come close to preachy. A sequence around discarded packaging for an Ann Summers “luxe bodysuit” results in statistic-heavy discussions around the product’s journey from manufacturing in China to the Cornish barley field we spend the film’s runtime in. But the film’s gentle tone and short runtime means that it just about avoids coming off as a lecture and instead more of a soft rallying cry for change.
A beautiful, essential film.
A YEAR IN A FIELD is on tour now, with some screenings including a director Q&A.
More info can be found here.