Estate (2020 film)
|Directed by||Tom Harberd|
|Produced by||Nicholas Goulden|
|Screenplay by||Tom Harberd|
|Based on||Estate by China Miéville|
Estate is a 2020 short film short film based on the short story of the same name by China Miéville, written and directed by Tom Harberd.
The film opens with the central character, Rick, attempting to intervene when he sees some of his neighbours leaving poison out for urban foxes. As he is contemplates his limited success, he notices a strange firelight and the sound of cheering from a distant alleyway, but by the point that he arrives, whatever had been taking place is over. Rick notices burning bandages on the floor of the silent alley, and is reminded of someone called Dan, whose name he calls out, but there is no reply.
The next day, Rick is walking through the market when he is stopped by Diane, who recognises him from school, and remembers that he used to be friends with Dan. She insists that they go to the pub to catch up.
They talk over drinks, and we learn that Dan was a divisive figure who was kicked out of their school, but has now apparently returned to the estate. When a man in the pub brutally takes out his frustrations at losing at the fruit machine on his dog, Diane angrily intervenes; before the situation can escalate, the landlord orders the man to leave, which he reluctantly does, dragging his dog along with him.
Rick and Diane walk through the estate to a basketball court, where residents are gathering in anticipation of a special event. After nightfall, a man lights a flare, using it to gather the crowd's attention. Another man walks out into the light of the flare - this is Dan. He conducts a strange ritual where he "bloods" some people by marking their foreheads; at his command they then hurry off in different directions - drawing the attention of the police, who had been watching the gathering from a distance - while Dan heads off in the opposite direction.
Rick and Diane chase after Dan, who acknowledges Rick briefly, before returning his attention to his hunt, tracking something through the back-alleys of the estate.
Arriving in a pedestrian area of the estate, they encounter a majestic stag, its antlers running with fire.
The stag turns and starts to walk away. As they follow the stag through the streets, the fire on its antlers grows in size and intensity; pieces of burning material start to drop from the antlers onto its body, but it doesn't seem to notice. The animal pauses on a bridge, where it is struck by a speeding car, throwing it against the wall of the bridge.
The spectators are horrified by the spectacle of the stag, now engulfed in fire, slumped over the wall of the bridge. Rick seizes a rifle that Dan had been carrying and shoots the stag, putting it out of its misery.
Dan speaks to a shaken Rick about the power of violence, and the need to push people out of their comfort zones; at the sound of approaching police sirens is heard, Dan disappears into the back-streets of the estate.
The next day, at an official briefing, a local vet describes the autopsy that was carried out on the stag, detailing the ways in which it had been chemically prepared for this event, not just drugged so that it didn't feel the fire, but its antlers soaked in several flammable substances. Rick is clearly upset by what has happened, and discusses it briefly with Diane, who attempts to explain that she somewhat understands Dan's position.
That night, we continue to see the ripples of the event spreading out, in different ways. Diane has been inspired to go back to creating wall murals, now depicting the stag. In the pub, which seems busier, Rick is approached by a man acting like a drug dealer, who sells him a piece of the stag's antler, telling that it has magical properties. As Rick considers the piece of antler, the man who was previously abusing his dog is turned upon by the animal, which chases him out of the pub, and Rick regards the antler as if this was confirmation of what the drug dealer told him.
Later, Rick is watching a police officer read a statement on TV, when he realises that the antler is introducing a strange kind of distortion to the signal. He places it on the router, and as he turns it, tunes the TV into a different channel. He sees footage of a countryside event with pagan roots, where people carry burning barrels through the streets of a small town. The footage is from a year previously, and Rick spots Dan participating. Inspired, Rick leaves the estate in the morning.
One year later, he returns to the city, which has been beset with a number of animal-related events, such as animals breaking out of London Zoo and running through the streets. The piece of antler has now been fashioned into a whistle, and as Rick blows it, the foxes of the estate start to rise up against the people who were abusing them.
The film was warmly received on its release, earning a 4 star review from Starburst Magazine's Alan Boon, who noted its polished cinematography and said that "there was plenty to like and admire" in the film. The 7th Matrix described the film as "a magnificent and grim environmental fable apropos for our modern times", and summarised it as being "unforgettable".
- Harberd, Tom (2020-08-14), Estate (Short, Sci-Fi), Lovelace Akpojaro, Samuel Anderson, Morgan Archer, Seema Bowri, Estate Pictures, Keen City Productions, Lip Sync, retrieved 2020-08-29
- "Estate – A new short based on the China Miéville story is heading our way | Live for Films". www.liveforfilm.com. Retrieved 2020-08-29.
- "Estate — movie based on China Miéville's short story". Estate — movie based on China Miéville's short story. Retrieved 2020-08-29.
- Pictures, Estate (2020-07-06), Watch Estate - based on the story by China Miéville Online | Vimeo On Demand, retrieved 2020-08-29
- "ESTATE [Short Film]". STARBURST Magazine. Retrieved 2020-08-29.
- "'ESTATE' The Short Film Is A Riveting Modern Fable Based On The Story By China Miéville". The Best Indie SFF Short Films & Web Series. Retrieved 2020-08-29.
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