Ground London is an experimental documentary that explores the British capital at the intersections of three types of geography: urban geography, cultural geography, and psychogeography. Its employment of a specific point-of-view, locked in photography that never gets more than three inches off the ground, along with heavy manipulation of both sound and image, exposes a London seldom examined: a city that moves poetically and with great order when observed slowly and in minute detail. This city, perhaps the most culturally important in the world (certainly among the most economically and politically central) moves fast. Moving through it during the summer, when the tourists add untold numbers to the population fighting to traverse the sidewalks, streets, parks and stores, is a challenge. Chaos seems to reign alongside the Queen.
But there is another London, one of patterns, created by the geo-urban spaces themselves and by the ways that people (both residents and tourists) engage and interact with those spaces. Ground London explores those spaces and the people that move through them. It goes deep underground, to the London Underground (“the Tube”) and high above the city, into the iconic riverside ferris wheel known as the London Eye, without ever leaving the ground/floor-level.
The film forges its exploration with a sense of lightness and humor. Filled with images of children playing and people relaxing and sightseeing, the film presents a specific London, a city that can move slow, a city that can rest when it makes the effort. A man feeds pigeons during his lunch hour. A couple sits reading in the lawn chairs in Hyde Park. A game of cricket gets underway. In one shot, people literally stop to smell the roses.
The film is full of playfulness. A childʼs toy dog crawls on the floor of the great Harrodʼs department store. People pose as the Beatles did on their “Abbey Road” album cover in the intersection at which the photo was shot. Children crawl upon the backs of the lions in Trafalgar Square. The film is also playful in technique. Filmmaker Dustin Morrow uses color, shape, perspective and movement to emphasize elements of the frame. Corbin Wescottʼs original sound design immerses you in the spaces, drowning you in their atmospheric elements, and employing great wit in its evocation of the landscape.
Ground London gets down on the grass, down on the floor, down on the pavement, to present you with a new perspective on one of the worldʼs most photographed urban landscapes, and on the people who live and travel there.
Ground London is still screening in film festivals. It will be made available here after it has finished its festival run. Please check back.