Filmmaker Matt Hulse has produced a biopic of deaf Aberdeenshire cyclist James Duthie, known as “Dummy Jim”, who cycled solo from Scotland to the Arctic circle in 1951.
The film is touring Scotland, starting at the Glasgow Film Theatre on 6th July, going around the North and North East, and finishing at the Edinburgh Film Festival on the 17th.
It weaves fiction, documentary, animation and archive to explore the eccentric adventures of profoundly deaf Scots long-distance cyclist James Duthie who hailed from the close-knit Aberdeenshire fishing community of Cairnbulg and Inverallochy. In 1951, he set out on a lone cycling tour to Morocco. After three months of pedalling, he reached the Arctic Circle. “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.” 12 years in the making, Hulse crafts a multi-layered memorial to a quietly determined maverick and the community that shaped him, with present-day village inhabitants emerging as creative participants. Deaf actor Samuel Dore leads.
From Matt Hulse on Vimeo.
Duthie kept a detailed journal of his marathon voyage and meticulously chronicled his myriad experiences. His original intention was to set off for Morocco.
But, as the trailer for the film points out, he never made it.
Instead, a much more dramatic scenario unfolded as the deaf Buchan cyclist entered a completely different world from anything he had experienced before.
“He was one of those adventurous souls who was very curious, very determined, and never let anything get in his way, and that was inspiring,” said Hulse.
“When you think that he was profoundly deaf and growing up in a small community in the 1930s and 1940s, this must have been a huge step for him to take.
“But, although things didn’t always go to plan and he faced difficulties, I like the idea of this wonky cyclist persevering and doing things his way.”