Reviewed by: Jeff Robson

Sometimes short films are the best way to tell a simple but resonant story; Reach is no exception.

Updating an age-old myth (the puppet/machine/robot comes to life) for the computer age. Randall packs a lot of drama, humour and pathos into the time it takes to make a cup of tea.

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It opens with a long shot, down through a clear blue sky with birdsong trilling in the background, then swoops through a window into a room, sparsely furnished save for a whizzy-looking computer.

Its owner an unseen (except for a pair of hands) nerd is trying to activate a robot desktop toy, without much success, but is distracted by the sound of a car pulling up and leaves the room. As soon as they’re gone the toy (wouldn’t you just know it?) opens its single camera eye and starts moving about.

It notices a bird singing on the branch outside and tries to get closer – but is limited by the cable attaching it to the computer. Its efforts to get to the window and become free produce some top-notch slapstick before taking a distinct turn for the downbeat.

Yes, we’ve seen this kind of thing before, but the reason for that is that themes of escape and longing, hemmed in by the realities of the world, never cease to resonate – as the makers of Pinocchio and Wall-E understood very well. I guarantee you’ll be willing the little feller on by the end.

The computer animation (ironically) is pin-sharp quality and the Philip Glass score complements the mood perfectly. If you’ve ever wondered what kind of job Ingmar Bergman would make of directing a Pixar short, now’s your chance to find out.

Reviewed on: 28 May 2009
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A robot given the gift of life has just one limitation... the length of his cable.

Director: Luke Randall

Writer: Luke Randall

Year: 2009

Runtime: 4 minutes

Country: Australia


EIFF 2009

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