Just in time to begin my ultimate challenge, the National Film Board of Canada has generously provided a one-time stream or reduced-price download of two Academy Award-nominated films. Dimanche (Patrick Doyon) and Wild Life (Amanda Forbis and Wendy Tilby) are both up for the award for Best Animated Short marking the NFB’s 71st and 77nd Oscar-nominated films. Here’s what I thought.
Short Film for a Long Sunday
Patrick Doyon’s Dimanche is a fantastically obscure account of one boy’s drab and boring Sunday. The 10-minute French-Canadian animated short is dull in colour, perfectly capturing the young boy’s apathy toward the adults and lack of excitement around him. The film takes an interesting perspective in portraying how the boy might perceive size with small, claustrophobic houses and tall, massive trains. The animation is presented with layers and while the drawings themselves are quite abstract and enigmatic, they represent the strong divide between old and young. Playing with visual and social perception, Dimanche creates a nostalgic sensation in its display of the child’s mindset. Well worth a watch (and did I mention it’s free?).
“A whole lot’ta dollars and no sense.”
And if I thought Dimanche was abstract and obscure, here comes Wild Life, the strange adventure of an Englishman who, in 1909, moves to Alberta to become a rancher. The film, at just over 13 and a half minutes, features watercolour-like texture in its animated drawings and utilizes multiple styles, including a short scene staged to appear as an old time Canadian recruitment advertisement. The music adds to the period nature of the film and it includes various comedic instances played with impeccable timing. However, the comedy soon turns to tragedy as the Englishman may not be able to withstand the harsh Alberta winters that lay ahead. Opening with a fact about comets, the film throws in various comments regarding the astronomical phenomena. The film ends with the image of a comet sailing through the night sky, potentially the last image the Englishman saw before succumbing to the elements. A story truly dedicated to the prairies, Wild Life is a representation of the hopeful prospects of a new life contrasted with the reality of the desire to return home.*Images courtesy of www.cbc.ca and www.calgaryherald.com respectively.