Glasgow Review - Boat

Boat (dir. David Lumsden, UK, 2014) lsees the director ambitiously attempt to green-screen actors into a post-apocalyptic Scotland. As part of the Scottish ‘Parenhood’ strand at this year’s festival, this emotionally gritty short opens with a small child’s haunting, whispering voice-over. And what is said oxymoronically superimposes the infantine perspective it provides over what we see: an aged, weathered man lying in a boat like a slain, vagrant hero. Except he is not dead, he is simply marooned and alone; and flashbacks between this man and what proves to be his younger self soon make clear that both are living in the early stages of what could be described as Kevin Costner’s Waterworld. But gone is the baking sun and resilient catamaran of that 90s epic / folly. In their place has come intensely immersive sound effects, one small rowing boat, and a whole cosmos of misty grey.

Gone too are the proudly left-wing sentiments which Scotland valued, and what is left behind is a dog-eat-dog world where even close family members must either provide or be a burden. So Boat really is a stark look at the emotional and literal value our parents have for us, and the lasting impact their actions and examples have on us. Certainly the CGI background announces to us in graffiti at one point, “End has past,” but there seems no end to the sway memories of our parents can hold over us and our happiness, and this seems a key message in the Parenthood strand as a strand.

Nevertheless, this lugubrious short was a resounding native crowd-pleaser. And no doubt that was largely because its End of Days scenario plays out against ruined apartment blocks which seem uncannily taken directly from Glasgow’s skyline. What’s more, as this rudderless man slowly floats towards his fate, he washes up in a similarly submerged Edinburgh. And in a moment of beautiful bitterness we see the Saltire drably flying over the cataclysmic devestation before us. Scenes like this will surely resonate with viewers right across the UK (if not the world).

But Boat also contains a number of potently grisly, eerie and suspenseful scenes, which will make this film still well suited to a number of the homes some of Lumsden’s earlier films found. Moreover, as the characters are forced to eke out a painfully meager existence in what is clearly a post-global warming world, this short would also make an eloquent addition to any environmentalist programmes people might be planning. And whilst the CGI isn’t always perfect, the sheer lofty ambitions and scope of what Boat achieves will make it an ideal candidate for animation festivals everywhere.

Film Details
Original Title: Boat
Director: David Lumsden
Country: UK
Year: 2014
Run Time: 15 mins

13 March 2015, by Thomas Humphrey