We, the Masses

We, the Masses


Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

There is a howling wasteland. It might be snow, ash. In charcoal-seeming lines a man walks across the screen, trudging along. He falls, a minor homage to Chuck Jones' W.E. Coyote in a puff of smoke on impact. A wider homage too, perhaps, in the inevitability and circularity of events.

The laboured breathing of a dying animal, a stranger kicking another dead creature. Eventually the masses, the question settled - ice, ice, everywhere ice.

A thicket of copy/pasted trees stands proud of a stone-punctuated lake, frozen by whatever forces have made the sky a darkening scrawl. The masses dance, lash stones to their near-Nike branded footwear, skate until another privation strikes. Even in a world with no dialogue scarcity sparks desperation. There is violence, and the earth cracks, and there sprouts a flashing black Sauron dandelion, all lightnings and menace. The black creature that might be a calf, and the white horse with its carriage of flies, and then comes the flood. Again and again there is falling, allegorical weight given physicality by good sound work. Queasy wave-tossed conflict is well partnered by orchestral distress. Water is never an easy thing to animate but here the hungering sea has presence, menace. If the world we see before the ocean comes is intended to be antediluvian, it is fair deluge.

It's that uncertainty that works against it, however. There's an explicative quote, but as the eye searches for detail among the pencil strokes it finds it wanting in events. There's good, even great technique at play - Adem Ilkan's music, Fiadhnait McCann's sound design. Little things like foley work stand out. Animated by Mark Flood who was helped in character animation by Kieran Crowley and with Eoghan Kidney and Anita Delaney assisting with compositing and CGI, it's technically astute, but one wonders if Robyn O'Neil's original artwork would have been aided by being static.

It's ever a problem with short film it's that it sometimes cries out for context. There's what seems a quote, but research suggests it's the title of a work. Knowing that the film perhaps becomes prelude, post-script, to the moment of that picture - it borrows well and ably from 'He ends a struggle with difficulties', may pay homage to This Disruption. It is beautiful, yes, but hard to explain. It wanders, wonders, and falls, but never quite grabs.

Reviewed on: 07 Feb 2012
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A man falling over in the snow discovers other men, whom he follows on a strange journey.
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Director: Eoghan Kidney

Writer: Eoghan Kidney, Robyn O'Neil

Year: 2011

Runtime: 13 minutes

Country: Ireland


Glasgow 2012

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