Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Berni's Doll

I saw Yann Jouette's short 3-D animation film Berni's Doll months and months back, and it still haunts me: putting aside the amazement that how could one man (i.e., Yann, the maker of that film) could achieve so much almost single-handedly, what even stunned me more was the dark story and how effectively the dark story is translated onto the screen without being pessimistic: it's just highly bitter!

On a cursory look, the film is a highly believable fiction about times to come when humans will also be assemblable, but with a shocking aftertaste of even assemblable humans acquiring a soul and will of their own (which really differentiates Yann's film from those of others strutting out on the same theme); and when I asked Yann about where did he get the whole idea of the film from, he only humbly replied that he got inspired from today's world where people are more and more being used like tools. But this was a typical really humble answer and Idontseewhatsallthisfussabout answer from a typically great artist; the film itself operates on several levels, including several subtexts--all pointing one pointed forefinger to the increasing alienation of humans not only from other humans, but themselves.

On the face of it, the film shows a disillusioned man (Berni) who has no life but work at the assembly line the whole day and come back home and watch TV. And then to construct the woman of his dreams by ordering spare parts. Why he orders unmatching spare parts is another mystery: somewhere a Caucasian, somewhere a Negroid, is this simply the exotic imagination of Berni, or a deliberate intention of Berni to make something which as a whole no one will like and hence who he will be always secure of, or simply a snidish political comment, is difficult to determine: either interpretation (and you don't have to take only one!) it fascinates. And now, after having constructed the whole, he wants to fuck her in peace: but a victim of mechanization elsewhere, could he play with one toy over whom he thought he had power?

The film has won numerous awards, including a special mention at Annecy. Yann did all the visuals: characters, backgrounds, lights, rendering, and composition, besides being the man responsible of course for the story itself and direction; he worked with 2 animators and 2 musicians, and took 21/2 years for making the film. The slick grey textures, the drabbled rainedout set, and that movement of the spare parts woman slowly becoming a real woman--staccato of a decapitated torso and yet the sway of the woman--everything is perfection itself, and it's a pity that in a world dominated by Pixarish movies, animation has lost the plot, especially 3-D that has so, so much potential.

The film website is here: http://www.dummy.fr/berni_main02.html

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