Elements Review

From ScottishClimbs

Jump to: navigation, search
Ben Litster on Diesel Canary SS, Font7b+, The Lost Valley, Glen Coe. (XtraLarge Recordings)

Elements, the new film from Glasgow's XtraLarge Recordings (Chains, 2004), is the first to profile the new wave of Scottish bouldering. Following the main activists across Scotland, it grabs an insight into their thoughts, philosophy and favourite problems. Spanning the corners of Scotland, it is an audio-visual complement to the recently published Stone Country – Bouldering in Scotland Stone Country Review .

Elements is divided into four chapters of Water, Earth, Air and Fire. These map a journey in search of the heart of Scottish bouldering from the shores of North East Scotland to the mountain slopes of Lochaber. The footage is interspersed with bold narrative from ecologist and land rights activist Alistair McIntosh. His thoughts on faerie magic and the human spirit help fix a connection between Scotland's ancient history and the modern day boulderer's search for the perfect movement. Narration comes from Annie Grace, with music from Selkirk's Frightened Rabbit.

In the North East we get to see local strongman Tim Rankin repeat some of his favourite problems, including the wildly overhung Optimus Prime, Font7c+. I especially liked Tim's personal justification for persevering with Scotland's bouldering which can be 'bitty' and difficult to get at. Moving onto the central belt at Agassiz Rock we hear some of the history behind the geological understanding of Scotland, a central theme in both the film and Stone Country. Returning north to the Central Highlands, Brin Rock and the Ruthven boulder are explored. Here we see ascents of the local test-pieces Susurrus Font7c and The Dude Font7b by Mike Lee and Ben Litster. Moving west to Lochaber, John Watson explains his motivations for bouldering, exploration and guide-writing in Scotland against the backdrop of Glen Coe's Lost Valley. Finishing in Glen Nevis, we get to see Dave MacLeod repeating some of his new additions amongst other hard projects.

The DVD also includes the extras Podcast - Stone Sountry 2 with John Watson, Optimus Prime Transformed with Lewis Rankin and Podcast - Bouldering in the North East with Tim Rankin.

My only criticism of Elements is the quality of the filming, which suffers in comparison to other recent releases shot in HD. I couldn't help feel a second stick-camera or shot would have been nice in places. However, this doesn't draw away from the film's central themes - which are literally rock-solid. Follow the faeries towards the auld rocks, they'll give you a lesson in body, spirit and self awareness - all-in-all, just what it means to be human.

Elements can be purchased via the Stone Country website.

Personal tools