Where To Build in Stone Short Film Review

★★★★★

Directed by: #JosephBird

Short Film Review by: Jack Bottomley




There is an art to filmmaking of any kind but when it pertains to allowing music and image to unite entirely and tell their own story, that can take things to incredible lengths. From work like #WaltDisney’s Fantasia and #SylvainChomet’s The Illusionist to #JCChandor’s All Is Lost and #JonathanGlazer’s Under The Skin, there is something consuming about a film that shows us the true power of image and/or music. More than that, there is something captivating, almost relaxing, about films that go further and show us that which - as Sherlock Holmes would put it - we see but do not observe. #JosephBird’s Where To Build In Stone is one such experience and an often stunning short that conjures up memory of the work of directors/documentarians #RonFricke and #JamesBenning, as well as films like #MichelangeloFrammartino’s Le Quattro Volte and #StephanieSpray & #PachoVelez’s Manakamana.


Inspired by the sights of Kingston upon Hull, Joseph Bird’s (who shot and edited this short from 2017 to 2019) film is a world of bellowing smoke, lapping waves, condensation, wind farm strewn landscapes and rusted and abandoned debris. As it casts a spotlight on the every day and the overlooked, the results are utterly spellbinding and fascinating, sweeping you away on its spell, attained from the very settings around us that are there day in and day out.


The footage features no dialogue, voice over or annotation and frankly does not require it and as the time flies by you realise that this film has all that it needs to relay its feeling. That feeling is achieved thanks in a large way to #NumbMob’s (additional musical work by #JamesRushworth, #PeteMinns, #AnthonyBoorer) compelling score. This #PhilipGlass-like score dances across the beautiful and expertly captured and chosen shots and locations, with echoes of #HansZimmer or #BenjaminWallfisch shaking the screen occasionally, while the work of #Vangelis also is recalled by the engrossing soundtrack that fits the imagery perfectly.


Numb Mob’s score applies thought provoking wonder, haunting edge and even a hopeful beam to the alluring pictures. And it is hard not to be drawn into the power of this film, a power that salutes reality and formulates its story from it. A story that really is entirely open and depends fully on your own reactions and perceptions, while watching/hearing this film.


Some strong binary oppositions are drawn, clashes of nature and industry, as well as our overpowering might on the world, while other sequences of flocks of birds, spider’s webs and the gentle waters seem to paint an altogether different tale. Desolation, abandonment, solace and the quiet passing of time populate the film early on, while the latter shots dwell on the night life that conversely - in an almost vampiric way - seems to open up and vibrantly raise from the slumber of the day. Humanity is everywhere and yet largely absent in the flesh (save for the odd worker), as the film revels in the sights of our overlooked, under appreciated and sometimes uncared for world.


Where To Build in Stone is a stunning audio-visual journey grounded in the real world around us that often passes us by and goes unconsidered, this short makes the everyday wondrous and the narrative relayed from it is exactly that which you make it. A mesmerising piece of filmmaking on a visual, audible and rather profound level, and one which will make you take a moment to process that which you (until now) have passed every day.