In the United States, red-eye planes fly from New York to Los Angeles between sunset and sunrise, compressing the night in between. Flights out of L.A. travel west during the day, stretching it out. Michael Langan’s new short film Heliotropes documents the elaborate ways we circle the globe in chase of the sun, just as plants bend their leaves toward light.
Based on a poem by Brian Christian, Heliotropes illustrates how sunflowers, migratory birds, and humans — through simple gestures and the most sophisticated engineering — all crane their necks toward the sun. Langan enhances the philosophical musing with surreal vignettes, demonstrating a visual narrative skill that belies his 27 years. (The way he flicks through vintage bird drawings to simulate birds in flight is particularly captivating.) If you like this, check out Langan’s RISD graduation film, Doxology, here.