Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

In an uncertain future, a virus has wiped out most of the human population, prompting others to flee in massive ships, in search of uninhabited land. They are led by one man, we are told, which is odd, as we never seem to see him - unless they mean the virologist at the centre of this animated tale, who bears a curious resemblance to Star Trek's Mr Spock. There's no real evidence he's a significant player, as nobody pays him much attention, but that may be an early hint of the ambiguous nature of a narrative that takes on a great deal in a small space, not altogether successfully.

In order to dispense with a lengthy set-up, the background to the story is literally spelled out for us, plunging us straight into the action - not that it's very active action. Like I Am Legend without the chases and fights, this film sees its hero hunched over his microscope experimenting with cells from his own body. There's some beautiful design work here. The attacking viruses are shaped like the ships, which in turn share their shapes with buildings. The implication is that we're looking at different kinds of ark - just as the ships preserve populations of humans, so human bodies preserve populations of viruses seeking a new home where they might breed.

The animated work is strong throughout in this ambitious film, creating a proper sense of scale within the ship. There are lots of nice little details, the lines of washing strung out across its galleries recalling slums and ghettos, the light filtering down from far above implying the ineffable. But for most of its length this is an unrelentingly grim little film and it's not quite artful enough to make the emotional strain on the viewer's part seem worthwhile.

Overall, Ark is a promising film that feels like it has been reduced too much, beyond the point where either the literal or emotional narratives work as they should. Nevertheless, it's an intersting curiosity and an effective calling card.

Reviewed on: 14 Sep 2012
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Ark packshot
An unknown virus has destroyed almost the entire human population. Oblivious to the true nature of the disease, the only remaining survivors escape to the sea. In great ships, they set off in search of uninhabited land.

Director: Grzegorz Jonkajtys

Writer: Grzegorz Jonkajtys

Year: 2007

Runtime: 8 minutes

Country: Poland


playpoland 2012

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