At work in the sky March 27, 2010
Perhaps we become a little blind at times to what is around us. When we look at a cityscape like London we see, and yet somehow don't see, the cranes that punctuate the skyline. Of course they are there, they have to be. A forest must grow and a city must build, because that's what cities do don't they? But what do these urban Giant Redwoods do, how do they function? They are automatic surely, as one of the drivers tells us about a common misconception. He looks down over a telescopic distance to the ground. “Sometimes I want to put the load down in front of someone”, he tells us. “I want to say to them, 'don't go that way, go the other way, you'll like it much better'” The crane revolves gracefully, a lattice of steel like a sculpture perfectly balanced. The radio crackles: bring the block down, another metre, slowly, hold it there. And then the driver is alone in the sky again, with his thoughts, his flask of tea, his breathtaking view over 6 million Londoners.
The drivers' musings provide a commentary, and their reflections are matched by the thoughtful camera work, and both are sometimes matched by the reflections in the glass of the drivers' cab. Turning turning, always gently active these leviathans are passive like whales, powerful and fragile: they sway slightly, the rain beats on the cab roof, wind whistles through the cables. And at the end of the day the driver climbs back down to rejoin the world of the ground. Often a little reluctantly: “some drivers get cab-happy”. And who could blame them?
Eve Weber's film is beautifully composed and beautifully shot. And deceptive - nothing that looks this simple can have been easy to make: the long list of credits at the end of the film confirms how complex it was.