Migrants

****

Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

Migrants
"It's beautiful to look at, there is detail and delight in every stitch and stem."

Animated Polar bears of wool and weave are carried south on a broken floe. In a brightly coloured forest, stark contrast to their styrofoam home, they encounter a pack of brown bears. They are not welcoming. This new environment is in different ways as hostile as the one they have left.

ZoƩ Devise, Lucas Lermytte, Hugo Caby, Aubin Kubiak, and Antoine Dupriez have created something affecting. It's beautiful to look at, there is detail and delight in every stitch and stem. Fish are scaled in something like herringbone, light falls upon fur that is patches. This is a place of fences and boundaries, uniforms and rules. Within a simple story there are so many textures, enough that when they are replaced by the splash and flash of the real it does not feel out of keeping.

Yann Menou's music and Juliette Beha's sound design do a lot to add to this. The twang of a wire, the whuff of breath in a film whose universality is deepened by a lack of dialogue. That depth not just of field in busy shots across bustling forests but layered fore- and mid- and background, the parallel and parallax that does so much to sell the illusions of motion.

The character design is compelling, removed enough from reality that the difficulties of wind and storm and sea are covered by the essence of artifice, but rooted enough in the visible, the knitted palpable, that they convince. Their motion feels solid, the ripple of imagined stuffing muscle under stalking stocking skin. Grass carpets the forest, twine lines separate some here from there. The rusted wriggle of rattling tin provides a sometime shelter and a striking shield. What circumstance brings bicycle wheels and tin cans to the usual litter of the forest floor? What arguments and meanings are behind the vests that read TBPD?

With a team this complex one cannot fingerprint individual contributions, but noting that this is not stop motion but digital is something one can scarce credit. The five I have named are mostly multi-hyphenate within the credits, Kubiak is credited as animator but how they have been helped by tool and look development and rigging would take a bank of computers to unravel. This is an achievement, and while these teddy bears and their journey to the woods is no picnic it is a feast for the senses.

Reviewed on: 12 Oct 2021
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Driven south by climate change, a family of polar bears tries to make a new life.

Director: Hugo Caby, Zoé Devise, Antoine Dupriez

Writer: Lucas Lermytte

Year: 2020

Runtime: 8 minutes

Country: France

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