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This is a story of two people who work in a light bulb factory and the
curious adventures they have when one of them has a big plan, but his
plan doesn't go as he originally expected. The film is pixilated,
(people are animated frame by frame) and beautifully shot. Production
values are top notch with people moving in synchronization to the
naturally moving shadows and there are lots of added bonus touches like
moving diagrams and animated puffs of smoke. And even a throw away
master shot showing a factory-like atmosphere, a complex shot to
prepare (even if it was created using computer graphics) but seen only
for a few seconds. The film is short and sweet.
I met the film maker and he was very gracious and apologized for having trouble answering my questions in English, but his answers were easy to understand. He said that the exterior shots had to be precision timed and they only had 15 seconds for each frame because they had to synchronize with the moving shadows. They shot mostly in the morning and fog was a persistent problem.
Sometimes you just need to watch a film and take it all in, as
descriptions and reviews cannot do it justice. Clearly "Luminaris" is
clearly such a film. I'll tell you a BIT about it but not the odd
plot--but you really just need to see it. It's a strange fantasy film
that exudes charm--and can't help but make you smile.
The film was shot using a process a lot like stop-motion. However, instead of trying to seamlessly putting it together so it looks smooth, they deliberately had a strange jerky sort of look that worked very well. I particularly loved how the people never walked--the just seemed to MOVE down the street using this film process.
As a result of seeing this film, I am going to find out if the filmmaker (Juan Pablo Zaramella) has made other films, as I am going to rush out to see them. The guy certainly has great skills and manages to make the most of a seemingly simple idea. You've gotta see this one...
By the way, although Zaramella is an Argentinian, the film has no dialog and can be seen and enjoyed by all.
I recently watched a similar style film to this one called Stanley
Pickle which I very much enjoyed for its animation but also for the
fairytale world it created in the meantime. With Luminaris there is a
point to which I feel the same way but also a point where I feel it is
a lesser film. The plot sees a man working in a light bulb factory
where he inflates the basic element of light into a classic bulb shape
before handing it to his partner who activates it. This continues all
day and is done in room after room after room. On the side though he
has bigger plans and is secretly stealing some of the basic elements.
The technical delivery of this film is pretty impressive, not so much in just watching but also considering the task of shooting it. Stop motion using human models is physically incredibly demanding and technically tough, but to do so with the sun as part of your model is to add just more complications most of which are really out of your control I guess. On first viewing I assumed that the film must have been made with intense floodlights to make it look like sun, but this is clearly not the case and I guess it must have taken some time and some swearing to get all the external shots. Internals are also tough but there was less wonder in their creation and the things going on were limited.
This lack of wonder for me had a bigger impact when it comes to the plot. The film does have a sense of beauty and wonderment to it but I thought it was lost a little in the technical delivery whereas this should have been the whole deal for the film. Part of this is that I wasn't really drawn to the characters on the way to the end, so the feeling of them getting something so great didn't resonate with me too much. It is a very nice short film still and the technical side of it makes it well worth a look for this alone, but I wanted more wonderment and beauty from it so that the conclusion gave me more feelings than it actually did.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Luminaris, shown as part of the Best of Annency program of the San Francisco Film society in January 2012, is a surreal 6min Argentinian film by Juan Pablo Zaramella using stop motion and other devices. It appears to be set in Paris in the Fifties (or is it a period Buenos Aeres?). The chief actors are Gustavo Cornillón, María Alche and Luis Rial. Gustavo Cornillón also collaborated in the screenplay. A man works in a lightbulb factory. He puts little balls of glass in his mouth and a bulb pops out, and he sends it to a woman next to him who gives it light. A whole wall of men and woman in compartments do the same. Meanwhile the man is stealing the balls of glass and trying to hide the secrets of light. He gets caught and fired but he and the woman come away with the secret of combining many glass balls to make a giant bulb that they ride over the city like a balloon. The charm of the film is an unusually fluent use of stop motion to create a cartoonish world out of real people. The people don't walk, they slide across the sidewalk without moving. The theme is stated as "In a world controlled and timed by light, a common man has a plan that could change destiny." As with many short films it's not altogether clear what all this means, but you get what you bring to it, I guess. Anyway the technique and the design are very fine. The film won both the Audience and Fipresci Awards at Annency in 2011.
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