Dummy Jim (4 stars)

Dummy Jim

Matt Hulse’s second feature is both very beautiful and utterly bonkers

Dummy Jim is inspired by the book I Cycled into the Arctic Circle, James Duthie’s account of the three-month long bike ride he undertook in the summer of 1951 from his home in a small Scottish fishing village, through a big chunk of Europe and up into the top of the northern hemisphere. Not only did Duthie, who was deaf and dumb, undertake the trip alone, he also started out with the intention of heading for North Africa, until he decided, somewhere in Spain, it was getting too hot and abruptly turned around and headed for cooler climes. Duthie’s account reveals a man with an abiding interest in the world and the people who live in it, and one who was wise and witty and unconventional.

Writer director Matt Hulse has done a fine job of capturing the essence of this man in his film. Used to working across various media to produce work that pays little attention to the conventions of genre, Hulse has compiled his own account of Duthie’s adventure through period drama recreations of parts of the journey (featuring the actor Samuel Dore, who also provides narration), split screen montages of archive footage (which give a sense of a cyclist’s view of the world whizzing by) and documentary sections showing a present-day celebration of Duthie being staged by his neighbours.

Hulse also intersperses his film with scenes showing craftspeople at work, the specific reason for which becomes clear by the epilogue, but which also neatly mirrors the filmmaker’s own craft and creativity. And finally, Hulse adds some lovely animated sequences and a balmy soundtrack by The One Ensemble and Sarah Kenchington that’s also perfectly appropriate.

Screening at Cineworld Fountain Park, Thu 20 & Fri 21 Jun, as part of Edinburgh International Film Festival 2013.


Dummy Jim

  • 4 stars
  • 2013
  • UK
  • 1h 30min
  • Directed by: Matt Hulse
  • Written by: Matt Hulse
  • Cast: Marie Denarnaud, Samuel Dore, Nille Hannes

Film about the 1951 expedition by James Duthie, who cycled alone from his Scottish village to the Arctic Circle. Presented as a mixture of documentary, fiction and visual poetry.