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Animation

An animated stop-motion feature about the life of Leonardo da Vinci.

Directors: Jim Capobianco, Tomm Moore
Animation

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2009 (USA)  »

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$10,000 (estimated)
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Excellent short film on Leonardo da Vinci studying how to fly.
8 June 2009 | by (Newport, Rhode Island, USA) – See all my reviews

I just saw "Leonardo" at the Newport International Film Festival as part of the "Short Films For 6+" showing (June 2009).

"Leonardo", is a humorous and endearing film that pays homage to a person and a process. The person is Leonardo, the genius. The film follows Leonardo da Vinci as he attacks the problem of human-powered flight through observation of how birds fly, then what his solution is to the problem. Although the character of Leonardo is anthropomorphic, you still feel you are witnessing a genius of a man who seems to have insatiable curiosity and drive. One can't help but reflect, through the humor, of where modern civilization would have been if Leonardo's inventions had been taken more seriously.

The process is two-dimensional animation (2D animation). This movie was created in 2D to help keep this age-old process alive. As you watch the movie you will notice items like unfinished pencil sketches, animator's markings in the corner, but also (and brilliantly I might add) other notes that appear momentarily through the film, but written in Leonardo's handwriting and style (upside down and backwards). Part of the genius in the film is that it was done in pencil-sketch style. While this is an obvious short cut, where it is clever is that the sketches were done in a way to remind you of Leonardo's own drawings. So the sketches fit the man, and it's almost as if Leonardo himself created the animation.

Leonardo is not alone. He has a support cast (albeit a minor one) of doubters and helpers. And in here, Mr. Capobianco (the animator, the director and a Pixar alumnus) has added the soul to the film. His keen observations and knowledge of character movement show that he was willing to take the time in this labor of love to add, for example, the gentle swaying of a cow's udder as it was walking. On a film that was done mostly on weekends, this shows how important this level of detail is for a professional animator, even in this animation étude. Mr. Capobianco has also not forgotten to use the "what if?" device to set up situations that add significantly to the film.

I don't want to say too much more about the story. I want you to be as enchanted as I was when I saw it. "Leonardo" is 9 minutes of pure enjoyment. Try not to miss it! My vote is 9 out of 10.


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