Sunday, 27 January 2008

Gianluigi Toccafondo "La Piccola Russia"

La Piccola Russia is not easy to describe though it is fascinating to watch. Gianluigi Toccafondo's 2003 movie is more narrative based than those of his films covered elsewhere in the Animation Blog. His story telling is fragmented and elliptical. Essentially it seems to chronicle the story of a family, growing up, taking holidays, meeting with the opposite sex, marrying. From narrated cooking recipes to innocent images of children playing with a boat at the seaside, the story unfolds in a shimmering, constantly changing, montage of grey and cream drawings. There are clues that all will not end well however - the dissonance in the music, muffled, pressurised sounds. There is a tension in the accelerating succession of images of family life, as boy grows to man, girl to woman. At one point the son spies on the girl, who is perhaps his sister. He eats his food watching his father play with his money. When he slaughters his family, using the money he steals to pay for a Russian prostitute, there is little surprise. Indeed something of a dream quality hangs over the action. It all seems curiously detached and unreal. At 16 minutes in length our attention never wavers for one moment. As the killer is led off at the end Gianluigi's triumph is in making us confront what we have actually seen. How much of the action is in the man's imagination, how much is in the past? Why did he kill his family? Like many gruesome murders of this kind, of course, one never knows why. Sane people do not do this. The movie was named as the best narrative short film at the Ottawa Festival in 2004. I'm left in admiration at the boundaries for animation being so extended. Some movie.

1 comment:

Elwood Smith said...

Thanks for this insightful review. Toccafondo is probably my favorite animator and La Piccola Russia is,thus far, his masterpiece. I have watched this movie dozens of times and each time, I am enthralled. His drawings, his designs and masterful editing, combined with his mysterious, dream-like story are unique.