10 Scenes #9: Andy Field


A row of neat white houses and behind them the empty beach and behind the beach the sea, blue-green and growing greyer in the fading light. The only visible action is the light and movement in the windows of one of the cottages. The muffled sound of music and chatter. A party is seemingly happening.

For a while this is all there is. The camera is fixed, wide angle lens, deep focus. Our eyes wander across the frame like lost tourists trying to find their way back to their car.

Then suddenly in the far background we are drawn to a grey dot swimming towards the shore. The grey dot bobbles, disappearing and reappearing on its meandering journey towards the shore.

It is a seal.

The seal hauls itself out of the sea, takes a few breaths and then begins a slow shuffle up the beach. It is tiny against the vastness of the landscape. A single bead of rain trickling across a car window.

In the foreground the party continues. The light fades slowly. Time passes. Eventually the seal reaches the left-hand edge of the frame and disappears from view. It is dark now and all that we can see are the cottage windows and the reflection they cast on the street outside.

Eventually the seal re-enters the frame from the bottom-left corner, flopping along the pavement towards the cottages, it’s slick grey fur glowing amber in the light from the party.

A pause.

Then without warning and with unexpected athleticism, the seal catapults itself through the window, clattering into the front room of the cottage in a swell of shattered glass and splintered window frame. The camera remains unmoved by the commotion. We watch from the same discrete distance as a chair flies through the hole where the window once was and blood appears to splatter up the living room wall. The door swings open and several guests run screaming into the street.

Eventually everything grows still again. We can hear the sound of the ocean.

The seal appears in the open doorway, pausing to stare directly into the camera lens for an uncomfortable length of time. As it does so you find yourself suddenly thinking about the movement of glaciers and the theory of evolution, about Herman Melville and the film Splash with Tom Hanks and Daryl Hannah. Something falls towards a beach from a great height. Water seeps under a door. A bank of television screens explodes in a shop window. And while you are thinking about these things you are distracted enough that you fail to notice the seal slipping out of the light and back towards the darkness of the sea where it first came from.


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