Must-Watch Excerpt from Lynne Ramsay's Hauntingly Beautiful Black and White 35mm Film 'Swimmer'

It's not often that an excerpt of a film is enough to satisfy me, but that was exactly the case with a clip from Lynne Ramsay's (Ratcatcher, Morvern Callar, We Need to Talk About Kevin) short film Swimmer. As part of the 2012 Olympics, a number of British filmmakers were commissioned to make films, and they were shown before the games in London earlier this year. While it doesn't seem like all of them have been released in full anywhere else, if you did happen to see them, I just might be a little jealous, especially since the excerpt from Ramsay's gorgeous black and white 35mm short film is so enticing. Click through to check it out.

First, here's the trailer for all of the Olympic films that were commissioned:

Here is the excerpt from Swimmer:

I'll be the first to say I'm not quite clear about what's going on. I would think that being able to see the whole film might provide a bit more insight, but obviously you could take an educated guess from the clues that are revealed in the clip. With that out of the way, this is breathtaking filmmaking. What separates the film of an acclaimed director like Ramsay from your average film is expert attention to all facets of the craft. The sound design and the imagery are so tactile that you could almost reach out and touch them.

While watching the clip I was instantly reminded of the films of Ingmar Bergman and Andrei Tarkovsky, not just in the imagery, but in the feelings the films from those directors evoke. The excerpt above reminded me of films like Bergman's Hour of the Wolf and Tarkovsky's The Mirror, both of which have a way of penetrating deep into your mind, and transporting you in a way that is difficult to describe (I recommend both of them highly -- and really any of the films from either director).

The director of photography on the piece, , has quite a few beautiful pieces of work under her belt, including a film for sponsor British Petroleum (BP) for the Olympics (shot on anamorphic 35mm), and a music video for David Byrne & St. Vincent (shot on Arri Alexa). Here are those two:

What did you guys think? Did anyone actually get to see any of the Olympic shorts? I'm not aware of any of the others being online, but I would be happy to share them if they are. What about the other pieces from Natasha? Let us know what you think in the comments below. You can check out more of Natasha's work at her website in the links section.


[via Indiewire -- Trailer]

Check-Out: Pro Video, Pro Audio, Lighting – Great Deals on Gear you made need !!

With any & every B&H purchase You will automatically be entered into the Monthly Gift Card Raffle.

Your Comment


Ever since I first saw Ratcatcher I've been a huge fan of Lynne's. This preview is fantastic, and far more abstract than anything I've seen from her to date, but she has always aligned herself with powerful imagery, and this serves as evidence of that. I must find the entire short!

November 5, 2012 at 9:40PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


Haven't seen Ratcatcher yet but I really liked Movern Callar.

November 5, 2012 at 9:53PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

Joe Marine
Camera Department

Caller is definitely the more popular of her movies, but i think Ratcatcher is her finest work by a mile. If you watch it get the Criterion Collection version, it has three of her early short films thrown in, incredible, incredible stuff.

November 6, 2012 at 8:32AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM



November 6, 2012 at 8:33AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


That felt like a ride through someone else's mind. Enigmatic storytelling, I agree, like Tarkovsky but faster paced.

November 5, 2012 at 11:16PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

Christian Anderson

Ratcatcher is easily Lynne Ramsay's best work. I'd also recommend her short 'Gasman' which was made prior to Ratcatcher - that truly is a great short. Sadly though I think all of her subsequent films are rather disappointing, particularly We Need to Talk About Kevin, though critics lavished it with praise much to my bewilderment...
Whilst Swimmer is beautifully shot it lacks a coherent narrative which I find typical of much of her recent work (not that it is a prerequisite for a good short, just gets tiring after a while). Bold words I know, but I had such high hopes for her as a filmmaker, Ratcatcher was a tremendous debut.

November 6, 2012 at 2:33AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

Stevie P

I saw Asif Kapadia’s The Odyssey. It was screened on Channel 4 in the UK. I don't think 'The Swimmer' was broadcast on television, I could be wrong. The Odyssey was really good though especially someone in the UK who has lived through the build up to the Olympics and the events that have unfolded in between.

November 6, 2012 at 4:19AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


I just found out 'Swimmer' was screened on BBC 2 in July, Damn! I can't believe I missed it. I never know how to access BBC Films once they have been broadcast they seem to disappear into the abyss. Here is the link to the programme

November 6, 2012 at 4:23AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


Yes, beautiful and evocative excerpt. To me it seemed like a dream sequence of heroic thoughts while training, but of course this could have been about something else...Now interested in seeing the other films too. Thanks.

November 6, 2012 at 9:33AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


very beautiful cinematography and intriguing story.

to me its like the swimmer has made one with the nature through his swimming, became a fish in some sort, and shared some of nature's memories: being hunted and apparently left for dead. he then comes back at the end, changed by his experience.

at least thats what i got from it.

November 6, 2012 at 9:38AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


Saw Ratcatcher assignment on cinematography, lighting & sound. Funny this article came up now. Beautifully made film. Swimmer as well.

November 13, 2012 at 6:50AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM