Madagascar, A Journey Diary


Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

Madagascar, A Journey Diary
"It's a masterclass, an unfair degree of talent for a film-maker's debut, full of subtleties of sound and vision."

Can a film be perfect? Madagascar is close, creating a sense of place that is actually dislocative - watching it one is carried away.

Written, directed, animated by Bastien Dubois, it tells the story of a visit to a Malagasay famidihana ceremony - "the turning of the bones". It is beautiful. Like a watercolour alive, lush mixtures of charcoal and papercraft, sketches and pastels, sand, regional music, and the culture. It's stunning. Art abounds, from the tin-can 2CVs, the fragments and artifacts of the journey - plane tickets, bottle caps, all assembled into an animated document of dazzling verve, tremendous in its inventiveness. Dubois used to work in video games, and this feels interactive, the pages turning as events unfold.

Copy picture

Pierre Alan Dubois helped with some of the 3D, indeed, various others assisted, Noro Rakotomalala supervised, and given the variety of techniques displayed and the quality, all involved can hold their heads up high. The music is excellently used, and the graphics are stunning. They don't appear rotoscoped, but recreated verbatim, perfectly so. The seeming fidelity of the landscapes is stunning, the characters, the locations, the techniques.

It's a masterclass, an unfair degree of talent for a film-maker's debut, full of subtleties of sound and vision. It looks like almost nothing else, so seamlessly switching from one kind of colour to another, like Inception run across the aisles in an art supply shop. It may have the most accurate depiction of the effects of rum ever committed to film, but that's part and parcel of its ability to be about Madagascar.

It got an Oscar nomination, and it deserves it, more than that. Everything is right. The credits with their photographs of those involved, the music of Rabaza-Mifegneve and Kintina Manga, Arno Alyvan's sound work, the pictorial thanks, the handwriting. Even the website is good, linked to at the end of the credits.

It is idealistic, naturalistic, impressionistic, fantastic. It's hard to say more than this: watch it; you can do so online, and you should.

Reviewed on: 27 Feb 2011
Share this with others on...
A video game director uses the tricks of his trade to recreate his experiences on a trip to Madagascar.
Amazon link

Director: Bastien Dubois

Writer: Bastien Dubois

Year: 2009

Runtime: 12 minutes

Country: France


Glasgow 2011

Search database:

If you like this, try:

Mother Of Many
Tad's Nest