• Country: United Kingdom
  • Initial release: January 10, 2020
  • Film Director: David James Armsby
  • Running Time: 5 Minutes
  • IMDB Grade: 6.7

In the realm of science fiction, there is a special place for dystopian narratives that explore the dark underbelly of seemingly perfect societies. One such thought-provoking short film that delves into this theme is “Model Citizen.” Directed by David James Armsby, this predominantly black and white animated film takes us on a journey through Autodale, a fictional suburb where every aspect of life is meticulously controlled and monitored. In this article, we will delve into the key elements of the film, its visual aesthetics, and the underlying messages it conveys.

The World of Autodale

A Cycle of Conformity

Autodale presents a society where citizens are expected to live out their lives in a predetermined cycle. The film explores the life-cycle of what Autodale considers to be the “Model Family.” From providing fathers to caring mothers, the perfect family is designed to raise model children who will grow up to become model citizens themselves. The idea of conformity and the pressure to fit into predefined roles is a central theme in “Model Citizen.”

Iconography and Mis-En-Scene

The visual aesthetics of “Model Citizen” play a crucial role in conveying the underlying themes. Mis-En-Scene is effectively used to represent the overall theme of the film. One prominent element is the masks worn by the citizens, which symbolize the model role each person is expected to play. The masks serve as a visual representation of the pressure to present a happy and flawless facade to society. Even when individuals are no longer fit for the cycle, they are still required to wear the mask, visually labeling them as deviating from the model citizen archetype.

Blurring Individuality

One of the striking aspects of Autodale is the way it blurs the lines between its citizens. Each person is designed to be flawless and indistinguishable from one another. This intentional lack of individuality creates a sense of unease and questions the true nature of personal identity within Autodale. The film cleverly uses mis-en-scene to link the beginning and end, showing the new Robinson family replicating the same animations as the original family. This further reinforces the idea that individuality is discouraged, and citizens are reduced to stock personas.

The Power of Sound and Music

“Waltz of the Flowers”

The choice of music in “Model Citizen” is deliberate and impactful. The film makes brilliant use of Tchaikovsky’s “Waltz of the Flowers” to enhance the storytelling. The song’s title, “Waltz of the Flowers,” aligns with the theme of the life cycle within Autodale. The music is carefully synchronized with the scenes, with slower tempos during moments of dialogue and voice-overs, and crescendos during montage scenes. The repetitive use of the phrase “cycle never ends” in the film’s sound design further reinforces the overarching theme.

Creating Ambience

Sound plays a significant role in shaping the overall atmosphere of “Model Citizen.” The film utilizes different editing styles, incorporating invisible chronological editing during lower points in the track and montage-style editing during the song’s higher points. This creates a sense of time progression while also blurring the boundaries between different scenes. The repetition of certain phrases, such as “Let us hope this perfect cycle never ends,” further establishes a cohesive narrative thread throughout the film.

Visual Aesthetics and Cinematography

World-Building through the Camera

The camera work in “Model Citizen” contributes to the world-building of Autodale. The emphasis is placed on the blandness and insignificance of the environment surrounding the characters. Wide shots portray the unremarkable suburbs, emphasizing the monotony of daily life. However, important elements are always highlighted through close-up shots, such as the TV displaying the PSA or the masks worn by the citizens. This juxtaposition reinforces the idea that the environment is secondary to the model citizen concept.

Lighting Choices

The film’s black and white aesthetic, coupled with a cel-shaded art style, sets the tone for the narrative. The use of minimal tones further emphasizes the unimportance of the environment. Background characters are designed with a single grey tone, blending into the background and further reinforcing the de-individualization within Autodale. Notably, the blood in the film is colored in deep red, contrasting with the rest of the scenes and serving as a visual reminder of the underlying flaws in the supposedly perfect society.

Evoking Emotion

The lighting choices in “Model Citizen” also play a significant role in evoking emotion. Despite the film’s overall dark and grim setting, the key lighting remains high key, creating a sense of contrast and contradicting the somber atmosphere. This contrast becomes particularly evident during moments of violence, where the high key lighting clashes with the brutality of the actions taking place. These lighting decisions effectively enhance the emotional impact of the film.

The Target Audience and Reception

“Model Citizen” appeals to lovers of science fiction and dystopian narratives. The film provides insightful commentary on societal expectations and the dangers of conformity while delivering an entertaining story. Its visually stunning aesthetics and thought-provoking themes make it a captivating choice for fans of the genre.

Conclusion

“Model Citizen” is a thought-provoking short film that masterfully explores the dystopian elements of Autodale’s seemingly perfect society. Through its visual aesthetics, sound design, and cinematography, the film effectively conveys the themes of conformity, individuality, and the dangers of a society driven by predetermined roles. With its captivating storytelling and unique visual style, “Model Citizen” offers a compelling viewing experience for lovers of science fiction and dystopian narratives.

1 Film Review

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  • The film’s high contrast stylish, combined with a cel-concealed craftsmanship style, establishes the vibe for the story. The utilization of negligible tones further accentuates the irrelevance of the climate. Foundation characters are planned with a solitary dark tone, mixing out of spotlight and further supporting the de-individualization inside Autodale. Strikingly, the blood in the film is shaded in dark red, standing out from the other scenes and filling in as a visual sign of the fundamental blemishes in the probably wonderful society.