Dummy Jim

Matt Hulse

UK, 2013, 90 min.

In 1951 James Duthie cycled from his small fishing village Cairnbulg in Scotland to the Artic Circle, and wrote a book about it: ”I Cycled into the Arctic Circle”. Director Matt Hulse got hold of the book and decided to make a film about it. Dummy Jim, Duthie’s nickname, contains fiction, animation, and documentary footage. Hulse included a wide variety of visual materials and sources in his film, which form several of the threads he weaved together.

The film opens with a man in somewhat outdated clothing roaming a community hall with laid tables. The hands of a designer creating an animation accompany the opening titles. The man is Samuel Dore, himself a deaf man, who plays Duthie, and re-enacts and re-cycles Dore’s trip. Later we see him pack, leave the village, and cycle and camp in the various countries he crosses, all in fifties styles and with fifties gear. We observe the various countries with him and witness the tribulations travellers meet: flat tyres, a broken bike, rain, fatigue. The community hall is the site of a tribute of sorts, where children read Duthie’s poetic texts on-screen, introducing the various countries, wearing the clothes of the era. The texts also accompany the images of the trip and are displayed on-screen. In addition, Dore recites some of them in the first person. Cut with this we see rehearsals, as well as dress rehearsals, for what seems to be a commemorative event in the community hall.

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