There’s something about grey December mornings that suits more spacious, contemplative shorts. Robin Joseph’s Fox and the Whale is anything but grey, but it does hit those other marks. Composed in an ultra-wide ratio usually reserved from action blockbusters, it gets its sense of drama and awe from the setting rather than any action. It’s as much about the beauty of the natural surroundings, heavily inspired by BC’s Saltspring Island and the Pacific rainforests, as it is about the fox’s journey, which is abstract at best.
In his informative making-of essay, Joseph talks about the turning point of the production coming from the stylizing of the fox, anthropomorphizing it and turning it into “an arrow looking for its path forward” or “a compass trying to find its true north.” That image is essentially the whole drive for the film, which could make for a frustrating watch for someone determined to find a more traditional narrative. But if you can turn off the need for constant action, you’ll be rewarded with one of the most visually stunning animated shorts of 2017.
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