Eric, a man with learning difficulties, sits on the bench of an empty playground, reminiscing of the torments inflicted upon him as a child by other children who wanted nothing to do with him. Often referred to by one of dozens of derogatory appellations (including the rather incongruous “badger stabber”) rather than his actual name, he took to wearing a large name badge, which he has never taken off.
The measured articulation of Eric’s thoughts reveals a man introspective and observant, which evidently means little when overshadowed by his physical tics and the differing mental state his tone of voice implies, which have both caused people to ostracise him. The overcast sky and lonely isolation of Eric’s surroundings are practically a reflection of his life, while several brief interludes are soundtracked by the metallic dink of a glockenspiel chiming out the first bar of Ring a Ring o’ Roses in a mockery of the childhood games he was denied participation in.
So, as interesting a perspective as all this is, what’s it doing on a site like Starburst? To answer that would be too much of a spoiler, but should you be inspired to find out, the trailer is available to watch here. Even a few minutes in when it appears the question is answered, you should bear in mind that the film still has another twist waiting for you at the end.
The title of Swings & Roundabouts refers literally to the contents of the playground where the short takes place, but is ultimately revealed to also be relevant in the idiomatic sense of gains balancing out losses. It’s a simple story quietly declaring that in one way or another, everyone will eventually get what they deserve.
SWINGS & ROUNDABOUTS / CERT: N/A / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: PETER MCKEIRNON / STARRING: JOHN WILLIAMS, IAN FINNEY / RELEASE DATE: TBC