September 18, 2003
This DVD documentary tells the story of how a new and up-and-coming urban sport influence has spread from a small sub-burb of Paris (called Lisses) to England’s capital, London.
The sport itself is called “free-running”, and the person responsible for this is Sebastian Foucon. It started from a very early age, Sebastian and his friends playing in their school grounds. The documentary follows how Sebastian’s influence had spread to others in the small town of Lisses. The sport is taken very seriously as it’s seen more of a discipline than anything else. The documentary itself is a mixture of first-person account and voice-overs.
After the initial introduction of the sport and the free-runners themselves, the focus changed to a big challenge that has been set for the runners. The challenge is to “free-run” over some of the most famous landmarks in London, including Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and the Millennium Bridge. The documentary then follows their extensive training regime in preparation for the challenge.
The jump itself is awe-inspiring, if a little long. The jumps themselves are merged with clips of everyday life in London. The music constantly changes, changing with it the mood and enhancing the atmosphere. It is both amazing and inspiring to watch. However as I said before it is rather lengthy and anyone with a short attention span may find their mind starts to wander a bit. There are brief interludes which does help to break it up slightly, but really only succeeds in making the jumps themselves longer. Although the eye witness accounts do add to the awe of it all
They do show that it’s not all perfect and that the free-runners do make mistakes. They say “it’s all about competence and confidence”. The documentary recognises the risks of free-running and highlights them.
Overall a very interesting documentary but not one you would watch more than a couple of times.
There is the option of having subtitles on or off, as with most DVD’s, however some parts of the documentary are subtitled anyway (i.e. when the free-runners talk in French). There’s also a director’s commentary, which is fairly good, with the director and the producer, but it does seem to be more of an interview between the two rather than a commentary. After a while it gets a bit boring and repetitive, the two men’s voices starting to drone. Music seems to be a major topic of discussion between the two and, personally, watching the documentary without the commentary seems more interesting.
There is a “making of Jump London” mini-documentary also. There are similarities between this and the actual documentary itself, with the same commentator, but it does focus more on the free-runners themselves and more on the formulating on the jumps (working them out, assessing the risks etc.)
An interview with Sebastian Foucon seems like it could be very interesting, until you realise most of it has been used in the documentary anyway. It’s good to see, though, what the man behind the free-running is actually like. From the interview you can really relate to where he is coming from, which is difficult in the documentary because the voice-overs and cut scenes interfere with this.
There are a couple of options for watching the jumps split-screen and multi-angle, which are brilliant and really add to the feeling of awe and defying gravity. The split-screen jumps show close-ups of the free-runners (with still and roving shots); it produces a great contrast between the two. The multi-angle option is great because you can control which angle you want to view them from. You can even change the angle mid-jump.
Certainly this DVD has the right special features to back up this fascinating documentary and overall seems a good DVD to have in a collection. I do feel, however, that it does get slightly repetitive and watched more than a few times might get boring for some audiences.