Umbilical World

****

Reviewed by: Luke Shaw

Umbilical World
"For long time fans of Firth, this is a wonderful collection of some of his best material."

Umbilical World is a curation of popular shorts, each bookended by new transitional animations. There is an initial worry that it’s going to be uncharacteristically gross without reason, with disturbingly animated titanic umbilical cords engaging in all sorts of sexualised activities with planets. The elliptical nature of Firth’s shorts, however - and recurring motifs of tubes in heads - lend everything a perverted sense of coherence that is a key reason that those early animations sat apart from the weird-for-weird's sake doodles elsewhere online.

Salad Fingers, arguably Firth’s most famous creation, gets two outings, his provincial, wartime British speech littered with eccentric idioms that guarantee fits of giggles which contrast darkly with the incoherent violence and uneasiness of the vast desert setting. Other shorts lampoon and skewer the psychiatric and pharmacological industries, whilst others are so loose and freewheeling that they feel like somnambulistic treks through the desert of the mind.

David has smartly littered the background and transitions with sly references to his long legacy, and reservations that the upscaling would work against the gritty flash aesthetic that once characterised this weird universe are quickly overcome by the strength of the animation. In between moments of over the top gore and gross-out texture work, there are even moments of strange serenity. Twisted People finding some kind of peace in their nightmarish realities is a recurring theme, and speaks to the human core of all of Firth’s work.

Though their initial appearance is a nightmare parody of quaint but disturbing bedtime stories, they transcend the rot and grime to become something more cohesive and unified, giving some kind of dark resonance to the circular opening of Umbilical World. For long time fans of Firth, this is a wonderful collection of some of his best material, and for those who are unfamiliar, it’s a bracing deep dive into the mind of a unique creative voice.

Reviewed on: 17 Feb 2017
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A surrealist exploration of depression and mental illness.

Director: David Firth

Starring: David Firth, Christian Webb, Paul MacKenzie

Year: 2016

Runtime: 89 minutes

Country: UK

Festivals:

Glasgow 2017

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