Imagine a brand new dystopia where our insistence in fossil fuels has covered the entire land with thick fog. That is the premise of Jamie Stone’s 2012 near-fantasy film Skyborn.
Set in a distant future, Skyborn revolves around the end of the world we know it. Humanity has been pushed out of cities and now fends for itself in the country. Due to the fog, they haven’t seen the sun in years. A father and son are believed to be the only survivors but dad, Gideon, thinks there is another world beyond the one they know and a big, burning orb in the sky, thanks to the stories his father told him. Blue, his son, is a lot more hesitant. Could there really be a world beyond all they know?
Stone’s work here, a graduate project for NFTS, is a soaring display if imagination and ingenuity. Made on a budget for £10,000, this visual mastery is akin to Jim Henson’s or Terry Gilliam’s other-worldly gems. Creating this fog laden world is a masterstroke which showcases an impeccable level of dedication and craft, the result is this brooding, different desolate landscape.
The story, also written by stone, explores this great father and son relationship that examines why we chose to believe the stories that our parents have told us. There is a brilliant conflict where Blue believes his father’s obsession has driven him insane and feels ostracised and abandoned by a seemingly futile fantasy. In Gideon’s eyes, the dream and the mission are all for his son and neither one of them can get a handle on how the other feels. Skyborn explores this deeper theme of striving for the world you want so that your children can enjoy it. This is wonderfully realised in this great movie. Thanks to the performances by Bob Goody and Perry Millward, the emotions leap off the screen. Plus, there is this brilliant use of dystopian dialogue where language and words have been broken down to their bare minimum. It helps bring this vision to fruition.
The biggest problem with Skyborn is that it is a bit too long, which is strange because by the end of the movie you have this nagging wish to explore more of how the world came to be and what journey blue could go on. However, in the short, there seems to be a lagging, flabby middle section that could easily have been trimmed down for a snappier affair.
Nominated for Best Short at the British Independent Film Awards, Skyborn is an incredible film. From it’s gorgeous sand animation at the beginning to the miniature set at the end, it is a well-mastered short. When the colourful climatic finale hits, with an added beautiful score by Graham Hatfield, you can feel the goose-bumps raise upon your skin. Skyborn makes you want to fly again.