Great Lengths

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It’s not often you’ll find producers reaching so assuredly outside the music sphere in quite the same way that Martyn has done in his short film collaboration with cinematographer and director Ramon Gieling. The main thread of this excellent seven minute clip centres on the tragic death of a happy young man, his loving relationship with his wife and later, the celebration of his life on an ethereal plane.

The curious meeting of dream and reality, life and death, is powerfully vivid and unusual. There are surreal images of miniature pianos used for different effect by the characters, bystanders in black are static though awake and the use of black, white and colour differentiates between living and dead – all memorable cinematic techniques.

Standing alone, the film short is interesting and captivating. But what really makes it unbearably sad and powerful is the context with which many people will see it.

Martyn’s father Gerrie Deijkers was previously better-known than his son in their native Holland. He was a professional footballer with PSV Eindhoven, scoring 18 times in his most successful season. Having moved from left-back to striker after a series of team injuries he subsequently scored a very important goal in the clubs history, one which helped them to win the 1978 UEFA cup. Sadly in October 2003, long after his footballing career was over, Deijkers died of heart failure at the age of 56.

It is within this narrative that the film is set. It helps us to understand and apply meaning to its many abstract elements: the already eerie atmosphere of an empty stadium dotted with stationary, dark figures becomes more sinister with the association of Deijkers death. The story laden with this heavier sorrow exudes emotion, partly driven by seeing Martyn step into his father’s shoes. Coupled with this is a feeling of intrusion; that we are watching an intensely personal visualisation, and together, this makes for quite an unsettled viewing. It raises a series of questions about Martyn’s underlying feelings towards his father’s death, which his believable acting hides behind a wall of objectivity.

It is a great, short art-house film containing both despair and hope and where the meaning of events remain open to interpretation. Who is the other man in the film? The soundtrack which begins with Bridge and ends with Right Star, music from Martyn’s Great Lengths album, plays a large part in creating its emotional intensity and mood. It is also a refreshing display of electronic music used to facilitate a journey and build a soundscape, distinct from other records produced with only the dancefloor in mind.

Music aside, on the basis of this performance, let’s hope there will be more acting from this multi-talented producer.

NB: There is a brilliant (unrelated) in-depth interview from On-Point with Martyn here that is definitely worth a look.

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