Thursday, July 24, 2014

Penny Thoughts ‘14—Silent (2014) **

NR, 3 min.
Directors: Limbert Fabian, Brandon Oldenburg
Writers: Limbert Fabian, William Joyce, Brandon Oldenburg

Just because it’s a short animated film, that doesn’t mean it’s good. Just because it pays homage to the Golden Age of Hollywood, that doesn’t mean it’s good. Just because it tells a clever story without words, that doesn’t mean it’s good.

Dolby, the makers of state of the art movie theater sound systems, has made a short film that pays homage to silent cinema. That right there seems a little off to me, but without the silents, we never would’ve gotten to the talkies, I guess. It involves a man and a little girl, who are trying to make a buck as street entertainers. I suppose this is supposed to be set during the depression era. Their marionette silhouette box breaks and they must settle for a day without any money. They get caught in the rain outside an abandoned movie house. The little girl is drawn inside as if by a magical force.

She starts playing an organ located in front of the stage/screen. It must be a magical organ because when she does, the man gets sucked up into the movie screen and becomes part of the picture. During her playing, the organ changes and somehow that seems to change what’s going on in the screen. The man finds himself thrown into various famous cinematic montages.

It is unclear just what is happening, however. I can’t tell whether the girl is changing the images or if they’re changing themselves and she’s trying to control them. The music seems to change before she changes it, yet her expression is that of a maestro. I’m also not sure what any of this has to do with their situation before they go into the theater. Yes, their roles in the cinema seem to mirror what they were doing on the street, but what about their goals. Were they just trying to be performers, or were they trying to eat? I don’t see how the movie theater fixes their problem of affording their next meal. I also don’t think the music or action of the film really does much to exemplify the spirit of Dolby. The music and its effect on the events needs to be clearer and… well, these silent films aren’t really silent now are they?

Sometimes it seems filmmakers think when they’re dealing in animation that being cute is all it requires to be successful. Unfortunately, it must also make sense. This film does not.

Even though I didn’t like it, it isn’t any longer than a movie trailer, so you might as well watch it.

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