Psiconautas, los Niños Olvidados ("Psychonauts: The Forgotten Children") is an obscure, disturbing and dismal story about Dinki and her friends and school partners Sandra and Zorrito, three children who live in an isolated island in the middle of the sea, ruined after a disaster in the nuclear power plant that devastated the most part of the island. Looking for a better life faraway of the suffocating atmosphere where they live, the three ones escape from their homes with all money they have reunited, trying to arrive to the coast to pay a ship that take them to the nearest continent. At the same time, Birdboy, another child and a junkie prosecuted by the police, tries to evade his capture at the same time that he tries contain the inner demons using drugs to relax him, trapped by horrible nightmares and delusions about black bird monsters. Meanwhile Dinki, Sara and Zorrito travel through the island facing all kind the dangers and discovering the impoverishment of the island and their...Written by
In popular media, sometimes the most obscure can pick up one's interest. That came when I randomly encountered the Blu-ray of a 2015 Spanish film called "Birdboy: The Forgotten Children (Psiconautas, los niños olvidados)". It is based on a comic by Alberto Vázquez and serves as sort of a sequel to a short film made by him and Pedro Rivero simply titled "Birdboy" (can be found on youtube), which I recommend seeing if you want some extra context (though the film itself works without it).
Plot: An industrial accident turns a once peaceful island of anthropomorphic animals into a harsh, near-lifeless dystopia. The orphaned outcast Birdboy tries to get by in life and keep the demon inside him locked away. Meanwhile, his loving friend, a mouse named Dinky, plans to leave the island with her friends to start fresh in the outside world. Little do both know that their destinies are intertwined in ways they cannot imagine.
Full warning: This is NOT a kids movie. It's a world that embraces the dark and macabre with elements of drugs, blood+violence, language, and minor sexual elements. The society is one of denial, desperation, corruption, and waste, rotting inside and out. But, the film's tagline "There is light and beauty, even in the darkest of worlds" is present in different ways such as Birdboy's beautiful grotto, Little Fox, and small humorous touches, fragments of hope for the forsaken island that may or may not come to pass. The art style would make Tim Burton proud, decay and dark shadows at nearly every corner with simplistic character designs that often fit their thematic relevance and lifestyles. Abundant themes are woven into both the world and narrative such as addiction, adolescence, environmentalism, conformity, freedom, prejudice, family troubles, and the darkness within us, all seen from the perspectives of the two protagonists. I also gotta give props to the music, the emotional tone of which is a mix of eerie and soothing.
Birdboy is one of the most unique and intriguing fictional characters I've seen, silent and reclusive yet so full of nuance and pathos. He's flawed but he persists in bettering things even when the world and his frightening demon are against him. Dinky complements him with her desire for a new life, seeing nothing of value beyond those closest to her and doing what she can to achieve her goal. While not seen together that much, their relationship drew me in. The side characters are also interesting with their own problems, though I felt that a couple of them could've used more development such as Dinky's friend Sandra who suffers from schizophrenia.
"Birdboy: The Forgotten Children" is a creature unlike any other, both strange and inviting. It managed to win Best Animated Feature among other awards and, for me, it's easy to see why. I was regaled and intellectually challenged by this one. If you want to try a new visual experience, then give this and the prequel short film a watch. Just keep it away from children.
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