In The Distance


Reviewed by: Rebecca Naughten

In The Distance
"Quietly affecting."

An animation about personal crisis and loneliness in the face of advancing war, In The Distance shows one man's isolation slowly eroding his sense of security as the situation unfolding around him encroaches into his home. The unnamed man (who doesn't speak - because he has no one to speak to) is living at the top of a monolith-like tower - which stays centre frame throughout the film - in relative peace during the day, but frightened by aerial bombardment in the night.

We enter the story when the surrounding events have been underway for a while - with only a chicken for company, the man spends his days in quiet contemplation and industrious invention (as if this has been the state of affairs for some time). We cannot see into his home (only the doorless entrance allows us a glimpse) and instead much of the 'action' takes place on the roof. There the man attempts to catch birds with a net, or otherwise employs Heath Robinson-esque ingenuity such as attaching wet clothes to a kite in order to dry them, musically catching rainwater in a variety of glass bottles or using a fishing rod and line to hook an apple from an unseen tree and to catch a care package dropped by planes.

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With little interaction with anyone else onscreen, the man's state of mind is communicated to us through the way his body language and posture are drawn - graduating from the expansive stretching yawn with which we meet him to more tentative movement and a withdrawn countenance (head down, shoulders slumped) - and the film's palette of colours. The building itself is white but the sky reflects the changes in the man's moods. Although the film starts at night with flashes of the bombardment, the clear skies the following morning convey the equanimity with which the man is facing the violence that is still in the distance.

As the film progresses, the colours are rendered in darker shades with blues and yellows (associated with depression and isolation) giving way to reds and greys (as the effects of the bombs get closer).

Using humour and relatable behaviour to pull us into the silent protagonist's situation - and animated in a tightly composed but visually expressive style - In The Distance is a quietly affecting film.

Reviewed on: 10 Oct 2015
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It’s calm and peaceful above the clouds. But in the distance is war, and night by night chaos advances.

Director: Florian Grolig

Writer: Florian Grolig

Year: 2015

Runtime: 7 minutes

Country: Germany


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