3 November 2010

The Cathedral – Oscar Nominated Science Fiction Animated Short Movie

Polish science fiction author Jacek Dukaj wrote a short story, Katedra, in 2000. A mysterious and enigmatic tale, it attracted the attention of Tomasz Bagiński, an artist and animator from the same country. He was intrigued by the prize winning piece of fiction and became determined to bring it to life as an animation.

He did an exemplary job.  It is as powerful as the original story.  In fact, this piece of work was nominated for the Academy Award for Animated Short Film in 2002.  Although it failed to win the Oscar, losing out to Sony Pictures' The Chubbchubbs it did go on to win the San Antonio Best Animated Short prize in the same year.

Like the best science fiction the film refuses to bottle feed its audience and instead relies on individual interpretation of what is happening. 

(Spoiler alert if you have not watched the movie). 

A man, perhaps some sort of pilgrim, comes to a numinous, mysterious building which to our eyes initially looks like a medieval cathedral.  He enters and strikes the ground with his staff which becomes a torch.  This illuminates the building and in the pillars we see, what?  The faces of saints of centuries gone by, carved in stone and then enveloped some sort of vegetable matter? 

The building shows its true nature at dawn when the light blinds and enchants him.  He falls to his knees and from him burst, what?  Branches? A viral infection or spores?  His fate, either way is sealed.  He eventually becomes part of the cathedral.

The visual imagery used in the movie is quite breathtaking and although not a word is uttered throughout the seven minutes of its duration we ask the questions that the pilgrim asks.  This is wonderfully made (in 3ds Max) science fiction for grownups.

If you would like something completely different, but still utterly cool:

Shaun White - Genius Snow and Skateboarder (with videos)