For all its endless variety of tools and techniques, at its heart, animation is about understanding movement. Listen to how much thought a professional animator like James Baxter puts into how he draws hair or fabric, or watch the incredible attention to detail that Richard Williams puts into every gesture. Animation is defined by movement, and the medium’s masters have an incredible ability to observe exactly what makes a given motion unique, and to find a way to recreate it.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a better example of that eye for motion than Charlotte Arene’s La mer à boire. Created in just two weeks, the short transforms the director’s home into a ship at sea. Part of that is the sound design and the lighting, which combine to create the appropriate frame of mind. But more than anything, it’s Arene’s attention to the details of movement.
The objects in Arene’s apartment don’t just ebb and flow with the tides. They swirl in imagined eddies, caught by invisible currents that just feel right. Brief as the film is, it’s a master class in the transformative magic of animation—the medium’s ability to turn ordinary objects into something else entirely, just through the way they move.
If this film isn’t enough for your Monday, Arene has more ambitious pieces than the two-minute La mer à boire. The Hairy Nobel takes a complex lesson in physics and topology and renders it visually through paper cutouts and tiny blocks that move with such fluidity that it’s hard to believe they were moved by hand, and not simulated in 3D. Impressive as that film is, though, I think there’s a reason La mer à boire is the one that earned Best Non-Narrative Short at OIAF (although I’d also argue that there’s a pretty clear narrative to be found, but that’s another discussion). With The Hairy Nobel, you need to peek a bit behind the curtain to grasp just how impressive the animation is. With La mer à boire, you can see exactly how it’s done on first viewing—and knowing the trick makes it that much more magical to see it pulled off so perfectly.
La mer à boire
dir: Charlotte Arene
syn: Un film réalisé en deux semaines dans le cadre de l’appel “Un Film en 45 jours” du collectif Le Transmutateur.
La réalisatrice est bien sortie de l’eau depuis, et remercie Marie Mérigot et Rosalie Loncin pour leur soutien!
(Google Translate: A film produced in two weeks as part of the call “A Film in 45 days” of the collective Le Transmutateur. The director is well out of the water since, and thanks Marie Mérigot and Rosalie Loncin for their support!)
PS: The title translates to “the sea to drink,” from a colloquial French “It’s not like the sea to drink,” which roughly means “it’s not that difficult” or “it’s not impossible”