Recently I saw a quite unusual “horror movie”. It was completely lacking creepy characters and bloody special effects. The setting was also rather unusual; a public swimming bath. And yet, it was nerve wreaking. The movie is titled Ten-Meter Tower and it simply shows people about to jump off from the ten meter tower. It is a great and inspiring observational study of how human beings confront their fears and make difficult decisions. It’s simple, poetic and cut to the bone. And in its simplicity is shows just how much you can learn from simply looking at people.
The Birds are watching
When I watch the movie, I see a lot of things about the people trying to muster the courage to jump. I see those who are up there to prove something to themselves. I see the ones who regret climbing the ladder but who is too proud to quit. I see the intense fight between body and mind. I see how the fear makes every one of them completely unable to stand still, like a bodily manifestation of how uncomfortable they feel. And I see the subtle changes in posture and breath when the decision is made and they finally jump.
Move your body
For anthropologists, looking at moving bodies involuntarily brings to mind Marcel Mauss. Mauss is a French sociologist, and in the 30s he noticed that the special ways we move – the habits of our bodies – hides secret messages of who we are. Funnily enough, Mauss first noticed this while looking at swimming techniques; he noticed, that he swam differently than the younger generation. This led him to formulate the concepts of the Techniques of the Body, by which he argues that if you know what to look for, you can figure out a great deal about who people are, just by looking at them.
So beware if you ever encounter a Bird. We will be watching you.
Ready to jump in?