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Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Do Yourself a Favor and Watch "Ten Meter Tower"


How can this be interesting?

I mean, it's people jumping off of a 10 meter tower. Or not jumping. Or debating whether or not to jump.

But then I started watching. And for sixteen minutes, I became lost in a human drama of fear, fascination, hesitation, humility, pride, self-loathing, confidence, insecurity, and on and on and on. 

The creators of this short documentary explain... 
Our objective in making this film was something of a psychology experiment: We sought to capture people facing a difficult situation, to make a portrait of humans in doubt. We’ve all seen actors playing doubt in fiction films, but we have few true images of the feeling in documentaries. To make them, we decided to put people in a situation powerful enough not to need any classic narrative framework. A high dive seemed like the perfect scenario. 
Through an online advertisement, we found 67 people who had never been on a 10-meter (about 33 feet) diving tower before, and had never jumped from that high. We paid each of them the equivalent of about $30 to participate — which meant climbing up to the diving board and walking to its edge. We were as interested in the people who decided to climb back down as the ones jumping. 
We filmed it all with six cameras and several microphones. It was important for us not to conceal the fact that this was an arranged situation, and thus we chose to show the microphones within the frame. Ultimately, about 70 percent of those who climbed did jump. We noticed that the presence of the camera as well as the social pressure (from those awaiting their turn beside the pool) pushed some of the participants to jump, which made their behavior even more interesting. 
In our films, which we often call studies, we want to portray human behavior, rather than tell our own stories about it. We hope the result is a series of meaningful references, in the form of moving images. “Ten Meter Tower” may take place in Sweden, but we think it elucidates something essentially human, that transcends culture and origins. Overcoming our most cautious impulses with bravery unites all humankind. It’s something that has shaped us through the ages.
I am tempted to categorize this in the "reality television" genre. But that's not quite right. Certainly it borrows elements from this, insofar as we are watching "real people" negotiate a manufactured challenge.

But there is much more going on here. As we watch people on that ledge, we become more than just witnesses. The images and words draw us in, giving a vicarious experience of looking down and contemplating the risks and rewards associated with jumping or not. We empathize, as we hear in our own heads the competing voices of "do it! and "don't do it!!!"

So do yourself a favor and watch this. And brace yourself...

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