Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

"It's technically impressive and the amount of work that has gone into it is awe inspiring."

Invoking thoughts of The Making Of Longbird, this six minute opus by Who Framed Roger Rabbit? animator Richard Williams begins with a snippet of live action as pencils are sharpened and begin their work on the page. We slide into the animation at the root; a plant grows, unfurls; it is just one among thousand, millions, a wide grassy field rippling in the wind. Soldiers come, Spartan and Athenian: a swordsman, a spearman, and archer, a man wielding an axe. They dispatch one another in just the order any weapons expert would tell you they would - this is as much about technology as individual prowess. There's blood, there's contorted flesh, but it's the expressions on the faces that really hit home, shifting between hatred, pain and fear. The expression, too, on the face of a young witness.

The shortest of 2016's Oscar nominated animated shorts, Prologue took the longest time to produce, each frame starting life as a pencil drawing before the whole was knitted together in a computer to produce fluid movement. It's technically impressive and the amount of work that has gone into it is awe inspiring. The problem is that the result is just as it describes itself - a prologue, a snippet of action that doesn't really stand on its own. There are many ways to read the title, to see it as a warning or an introduction to certain movements within history, but it's too slight to bear up the weight of its production. We see these men die but we don't know them; neither do we get to know the witness. There is no point of connection beyond an appreciation of how those woulds must hurt.

Copy picture

Is this a take on Lysistrata? If so, like the medium, it's so pared down that the vital colour is lost. Williams has created a calling card that everybody will remember. It is difficult, however, to consider this a complete film.

Reviewed on: 04 Feb 2016
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Prologue packshot
Spartan and Athenian warriors engage in battle, visualised through hand-drawn animation.

Director: Richard Williams

Writer: Richard Williams

Year: 2015

Runtime: 6 minutes

Country: UK


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