Swedish directors Maximilien Van Aertryck and Axel Danielson have made a wonderful little film that highlights human emotions in a totally unexpected way. The premise is simple enough, people at a swimming baths in Gothenberg climb up a ten metre diving platform and then jump into the pool, or they don’t.
These aren’t divers but regular people who have never jumped from such a height. With an unwavering camera, and an absence of commentary we focus on the decision made by each jumper. Some single jumpers talk themselves through the process, some swear their way through. People climbing in pairs talk to each other, which may or may not help with the decision. A microphone picks up what they’re saying, and subtitles translate, but it’s not really necessary, their body language shouts loud.
If you want to see raw human body language, showing fear, courage, doubt, regret and indecision, it’s all here.
Each participant was a volunteer, and about seven out of ten went ahead and made the jump. 30% made the slow climb back down the stairs. The number of jumpers is probably a bit higher than it would otherwise have been as people felt some pressure to jump as it was all so obviously and visibly being recorded, and having seen older people jump, younger people felt they should, and some men felt that as women had jumped they had to.
You can find the full film, which is only 16 minutes long at The New York Times Documentary Channel. It’s well worth the time.