Below is the link to a scene from the movie, “Moonlight”, the story of a gay, black man. The story is broken into three parts, played by three different actors, representing different ages of the main character–child, young man, adult. The actors were not introduced to each other until after the filming had occurred.
In this video, Director Barry Jenkins narrates the swimming scene from “Moonlight” with the actors Alex Hibbert and Mahershala Ali: https://nyti.ms/2gkwceb
Being taught to swim is a common human experience, where trust is key. What is amazing with this scene is that Alex Hibbert really did not know how to swim, and was actually being taught during this filming. I think it adds to the power of this that Alex remains silent throughout the lesson, as I remember.
I was fascinated by Barry Jenkins’ description of this as spiritual transference–what an excellent term. He describes this as a baptism, teaching Alex how to sustain himself. He talks about wanting this to be an immersive experience for the audience, with the camera lens placed at water level, filming upward toward the actors, sometimes under water-very interesting videography and water sounds. It is so well done you have the sensation of being in the water with them, can almost smell the saltwater–the immersive experience was achieved.
“It’s beautiful because in this moment when I want to show this element of spiritual transference to occur, you’re watching a grown black man teach a young black boy how to swim in the middle of the Atlantic ocean.”