Feeling the “Animated” Love by Pooja Sudhir
At the end of November, Filamnt returned with its offering of love doused Indian shorts- Asawari Jagushte’s The Housemaids, Karan Talwar’s soundscape of objects And Sometimes She Loved Me Too and Tarun Jain’s rustic view Amma Meri. Narratives of love and intimacy often the favoured cinematic subject, thankfully emerges in varied flavours. One such distinct style is that of animated short films capturing and commenting on love. Here are four shots and four reasons why the short format carries depth when it comes to the world’s most debated emotion…
Reeling the Unreal with Paperman
John Kahrs, director of Walt Disney’s Oscar winning Paperman confessed to his short film being the screen of hope in the bleak setting of urbane New York where anonymity and isolation haunts individuals. The unrealism of the animated world forms the very reason for the view of reality that it presents. Against the grim reality of incorporated corporate lives, the visuals of Paperman present the dramatically unreal possibility of an impossible love with an absolute stranger. In fact, the very form of this short combines the familiar, realistic hand drawings with the virtual reality of CGI graphics. Animated shorts give the scope to both the director and the viewer to give a cinematically convincing experience of unrealism- a reality that we all subconsciously like to be voyeurs of.
Abstraction with Invention of Love
If fantasy fails to appeal to you, perhaps skepticism and political criticism will hook you to animated love films. The visual medium of cinema, though alluring, might be limiting when it comes to provoking abstract thought. To marry technological development with the deteriorating concept of love would definitely be an abstract knot to tie. A cinematic union like that would be difficult to capture in real life images but in the animated vision of the Russian director Andrey Shuskov, the iconic romantic image of the heart gets transformed into a mechanically manufactured inanimate object. Belonging to the steampunk genre, the images adopt retrofuturistic qualities and truly lend an unconventional take on love.
The Man Without a Head, the Subversive Subtext
Juan Diego Salanos bagged the Cesar award in 2003 for this unique love story. This French take on the amorous is a futuristic intersection between dystopian Orwellian reality and the glamorous consumerist world of Mad Men. Envisioning the capitalist reality in its extreme, human heads and therefore human identities are on sale. This love story follows the man’s journey of love through the conflict with his identity. Capturing the familiar trepidation of a first date, this short subverts the race, skin and wealth-based ideas of self and how these constructs exist in the intimate space of love too.
Zero- Comic Cute
Christopher Kezelos’ well-acclaimed and winner of over a dozen awards, Zero uses the much loved stop motion photography to communicate the endearing narrative of love. The concise frames employ the cute, comic form to incite emotions, which are simple and sympathy evoking. A simplistic lot, simplified characterization and equally simple resolution may be disappointing in a non-animated short film. The intelligent audience is looking, and rightfully so, in layered narratives but the form of the animated can absolve itself of the diktats of complexity since it can compensate with the intricacy of its form.
Pooja Sudhir is a film enthusiast who reviews films for online portals. She also teaches Film Studies at DSB International School, Mumbai.