Film Short: Animals
Film shorts often suffer from over-reaching; those that try to tell a compelling narrative usually fail due to a feeling of over-fullness. Those which attempt to be more traditionally artistic – via a series of single shots or a sweeping scale – are generally overburdened with faux-symbolism and implied importance. The central issue short filmmakers must contend with is the obstacle of fitting everything in without succumbing to saturation. Douglas Burgdorff’s short animals doesn’t fall victim to these problems, however.
Set to a wonderful piece by English composer Michael Nyman, whose film scores will doubtlessly be familiar to many, and filmed in the gloriously impossible jungles and mangroves of Costa Rica, Burgdorff’s short is neatly and accurately summed up in its title. Capturing a series of beautiful animals including lizards, alligators and monkeys with an artist’s eye rather than a documentarian’s, Burgdorff’s standout moments – the fading shape of an alligator’s back into murky waters, a pair of monkeys gleefully posing like show-off toddlers – are imbued with an intriguing mysticism and emotion which is difficult to define, but easy to be swept up by. The mixture of high-definition sweeps and detailed close-ups give this wholly alien landscape a hallucinatory feel, and the beautifully portrayed creatures of this wilderness are lovingly captured. It’s a deftly handled piece, and backed by Nyman’s spectral score, one which asks us to look into the face of the unknown and the incredible.
Luke Grundy is a fervent assimilator of media living amid the bright lights of London, England. If he’s not watching films or listening to music, he’s probably asleep, eating or dead. An aspiring writer, journalist and musician, he is the creator of movie/music blog Odessa & Tucson and lives for epistemology.