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Virtually There

In their admirable efforts both to continue to promote tourism in locked-down, bolted-shut, nailed-in Dorset and to cheer the ordinary resident populace whose delight in their native land may have become jaded by enforced over-familiarity, the Dorset Tourist Board has commissioned a splendid new film which packs into just over 4 minutes images of some of the county's most attractive and once frequently-visited places. Producers hope it will bring some cheer to a population still reeling from revelations that "figures suggesting 80% of the population would be dead by next Wednesday may have been exaggerated in the rush to enforce a 34th lock-down".

Filmed in 4K from a state of the art drone, the film involved no physical contact between its makers, through the drone itself was equipped with a face mask and a protective bio-hazard suit to avoid cross contamination with the computer terminal charged with controlling it.

A full page advertisement for tonight's Honimint-sponsored THREADFLIX screening appeared in the Sydling St Nicholas Sun.

At the heart of the film - billed the first never to have been touched by a sanitised human hand - is what some say is a clever conceit: It begins with real footage and shows the county as any casual visitor might have encountered it in less fascist times. However, as the sequences progress, the viewer becomes aware of a slow transformation into a cartoon style, or - as the producer's surely over-claim - an "augmented reality experience, symbolically representative of the virtual encounters which now characterise our daily lives and social interactions". Digital manipulation expert Bendi Fingas disagrees, suggesting that the playful alteration of the original footage is more likely to "Disney-fy" our reactions to nature's Dorset-based abundance than strike a note of awe - a view given some additional credence, perhaps, by the fact that the heavy hand of Threadbone Corporation owned Threadny Studios is evident throughout.

Perhaps more problematic, however, are the nagging doubts beginning to surface about just where the original footage was shot. Though the casual viewer might be convinced that they are gazing at the magnificent coastline, beautiful beaches, dense forests, abundant waterfalls and high mountains of Dorset, informed geographers [surely an oxymoron [Ed]] believe the footage is not of Dorset at all, but rather of somewhere in the United States.

Head of Geography at Yetminster Middle School [a place the film-makers claim to have included], Ivor Mappe says the footage is more likely to be of Oregon - a place he knows well, having studied it once at GCSE. 'I remember very well it has a magnificent coastline, beautiful beaches, dense forests, abundant waterfalls and high mountains and I thought at the time, "this is a bit like Dorset only bigger, better and less "cartoony". As a geographer, I may forget to wash before teaching, but I never forget a place.'


East of Easton: A Virtual Journey premieres at 8pm tonight on THREADFLICKS [subscription required]

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