- Country: France
- Initial release: June 13, 2017
- Film Director: Ru Kuwahata and Max Porter
- Running Time: 5 Minutes
- IMDB Grade: 7.4
We often find solace in the art of storytelling. Whether it’s through books, movies, or even animated films, narratives have a way of captivating our attention and resonating with our own experiences. One such film that has left a lasting impact is “Negative Space,” a stop-motion animated short directed by Ru Kuwahata and Max Porter. Released in 2017, this film delves into the complex relationship between a father and son, exploring themes of memory, loss, and the power of everyday objects. In this article, we will embark on a journey to uncover the brilliance of “Negative Space,” dissecting its elements of scale, framing, and color, and delving into the emotional depth of the story it tells.
The Storytelling Medium of Stop Motion Animation
Before we delve into the specific elements of “Negative Space,” let’s take a moment to appreciate the storytelling medium itself: stop motion animation. This unique technique involves capturing individual frames of a scene by physically manipulating objects, creating the illusion of movement when played back at a rapid pace. Stop motion animation allows for a level of creativity and attention to detail that is unparalleled in other forms of animation. It provides filmmakers with the opportunity to craft intricate worlds and bring inanimate objects to life, capturing the imagination of viewers in a truly captivating way.
Exploring the Elements of Scale
One of the most striking aspects of “Negative Space” is its masterful use of scale. The directors, Kuwahata and Porter, skillfully manipulate the size of the characters and objects to convey the dynamics of the father-son relationship. As the film progresses, we witness the protagonist, a young boy named Damien, growing smaller in comparison to his father and the contents of a suitcase. This deliberate exaggeration of scale serves as a visual representation of the immense presence his father holds in his life. In an interview, Max Porter explains, “The character’s relationship with his father, he feels very small. The father is taking up a lot of space in his life, and then later in the film, the father is small, the father is not taking up a lot of space in his life.”
The Power of Framing
Another aspect that contributes to the brilliance of “Negative Space” is its strategic use of framing. The directors employ different framing techniques to convey the protagonist’s perception of his relationship with his father. In the opening scene, we see the father’s hand as the only visible part of him, emphasizing his presence and influence in Damien’s life. This framing choice sets the stage for the subsequent memories and flashbacks that unfold throughout the film. As the story progresses, the framing shifts, offering a bird’s eye view of the protagonist, creating a sense of detachment and objectivity. This change in perspective allows Damien to see his father in a new light, free from the biases and idealizations of his childhood memories.
The Language of Color
Color plays a significant role in “Negative Space,” contributing to the overall emotional tone of the film. The directors employ a deliberate contrast between warm and cool tones to represent the dichotomy between memory and reality. The memories, depicted in warm, autumnal colors, evoke a sense of nostalgia and fondness. In contrast, the present-day scenes are characterized by cool tones, creating a somber and melancholic atmosphere. This juxtaposition highlights the disparity between the protagonist’s idealized memories of his father and the cold truth of his absence. Furthermore, the strategic use of blue as a symbol of sadness and longing reinforces the emotional depth of the narrative. The directors carefully manipulate lighting and color to immerse viewers in Damien’s internal world, evoking a range of emotions as we witness his journey of remembrance and acceptance.
Examining the Impact
“Negative Space” has garnered critical acclaim and numerous accolades since its release. It has been screened at over 300 festivals and received 126 prizes, including 63 grand prix and best animated short awards. The film’s success can be attributed to its ability to resonate with audiences on a deeply emotional level. Through its masterful storytelling techniques, “Negative Space” explores universal themes of love, loss, and the complexities of relationships. It reminds us of the power of everyday objects to hold memories and evoke emotions, and it encourages us to reflect on our own experiences and the relationships that shape us.
In conclusion, “Negative Space” is a testament to the power of storytelling and the art of animation. Through its innovative use of scale, framing, and color, the film delves into the intricacies of the father-son relationship and the impact of memories on our perception of reality. As middle-aged men, we can relate to the themes explored in “Negative Space” and appreciate the craftsmanship and attention to detail that went into creating this remarkable animated short. It serves as a reminder of the importance of cherishing our relationships and embracing the complexities of life. So the next time you come across an animated film, take a moment to immerse yourself in its world and uncover the brilliance that lies within.