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'Invisible': a Short Film that Must Be Seen

Janeen Mathisen

Posted on May 30, 2020 21:03

1 user

Eloquent, detailed animation coupled with a unique, and a gripping story results in a short film that would be an artistic crime to miss.

Netflix has released Studio Ponoc's Modest Heroes, a collection of three animated short films from talented Japanese directors and animators. Originally released in 2018, all three are stunning and imaginative, crisply original and worthy of multilayered discussion — but none more so than the last.

Invisible is directed by Akihito Yamashita, who previously worked on Studio Ghibli's beloved classic, Howl's Moving Castle. Among the collection, this one is perhaps the ripest for interpretation and discussions. It establishes story, character mood, and emotion through unparalleled animation.

Instantly engaging for hardcore animation fans, casuals, and even newcomers, it showcases the life of an invisible man as it goes from lonely to heroic, as he goes from discontented to confident. In a unique twist, in addition to being invisible, he is also weightless and must lug around a fire extinguisher to keep himself weighed down. These factors rule his life and his mood. The animators are shockingly consistent with this fantastical disability, adding details of motion, realistic weight, and world-building to make his plight all the more real. As he leaves the house, the second he transitions from small hand-weight to a fire extinguisher makes him drift sideways. Riding his motorbike with a long coat and scarf flapping around him in the wind, his lack of gravity tries to pull him upward. His discontent is visualized with meticulous attention to detail at every second. Additionally, the detailed texture of every background painting makes the world burst to life: it's huge, busy yet empty, and mostly indifferent.

Sympathy is built with minimal dialogue, as the film relies masterfully on the man's body language to tell audiences what he is thinking. He timidly tries to assist customers at his work, but no one can see him. In a frustrated attempt to use an ATM, he looms over it; weightless, ineffective, and hopeless.

His emotion can also be conveyed through the environment itself. When he gets swept a thousand feet in the air by a stormy gust of wind, holding onto an advertising balloon for dear life, his distress, fear and determination are visualized by the wrinkles his fists make on the balloon as he wrenches himself downward.

When he finally reaches the ground he is exhausted and dismayed, beaten into submission by his own powerlessness. In a quiet and beautiful rainy scene, the director allows the world and characters to truly breathe. The man's face is outlined by the rain, the mere suggestion of his shape further humanizing him. Given food by a blind stranger, smears of sauce briefly outline his lips in a subtly brilliant answer to animating eating without a visible mouth.

In the climax as he saves a runaway baby carriage, his face is given hints of contour with leaves and a bloody nose. Through bravery, he can be seen, and he rides away a more contented person.

With an original take on the problem of being invisible, this short film is brilliant and layered in every way. Don't miss it.

Janeen Mathisen

Posted on May 30, 2020 21:03

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Source: Engadget
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