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Monday, 18 August 2014

Antedon (2010)

Director: Alejandro Ayala Alberola
Stars: Alexandra Martín and Jorge Clorio
This film was an official selection at the 7th annual International Horror & Sci-Fi Film Festival in Phoenix in 2011. Here's an index to my reviews of 2011 films.
They may well have separate IMDb pages, but the slightest online research suggests that at least four of the seven Alejandro Ayala Alberolas there are the same person. Antedon, which played the International Horror & Sci-Fi Film Festival in 2011, was made by Alberola (III), while Dry Gulch, the creation of Alberola (VI), marked the return of his work to that festival two years later. Merely looking at the other films that he's uploaded to Vimeo and YouTube highlight that he's also the Alberola (IV) responsible for Guerra de Papel, made the same year as this, and the Alberola (V) behind Petropolis a year later. Why he's ending up with a new IMDb page for each new film, I have no idea, but perhaps there's a nefarious plot down in Mexico to clone Alejandro Ayala Alberolas to make animated science fiction films. I'm all for it, but I have to say that I much prefer Dry Gulch to Antedon. The two were made using very different animation styles, but the former has a lush and enticing presence to it while this one feels empty.

Dry Gulch also had a story, of sorts, while I'm really not sure what this one has. A large spaceship arrives in orbit around the moon of a planet and sends a shuttle down so a couple of stop motion astronauts can explore the surface. If I'm picking up what happens properly, they send up a flare and discover some sort of statue. There's a skeleton nearby. And then, perhaps looking into some sort of milky black surface, one of them becomes convinced that he's watching a prancing unicorn. As the surface opens to bathe him in inviting light, he enters and the end credits roll. It's that experimental and I have no clue what it's trying to say. The names don't seem to suggest any meaning. Antedon is a genus of stemless crinoids or water lilies, so that's presumably a dead end. The ship's name is another; Thebes could refer to any number of ancient cities, most notably the former capital of Egypt. I initially thought the male astronaut was Alejate, but that's merely the Spanish for 'Get away!' For some reason, both switch to English for their final lines.
If I don't understand what Antedon is trying to tell us, I can at least appreciate the unique approach that Alberola and his team of animators and filmmakers took to make this picture. Stop motion is rarely used nowadays because it's so time consuming, but I'm always happy when someone devotes that time. The motion is a little jerky, but I'm not sure how much of that is due to the number of frames in the animation itself and how much is the compression of the digital version available online. The outfits look subtly odd, probably because they're partially built out of Lego, but with the faces of real people overlaid inside them with the requisite heads up displays. I liked the look, but I did want to know what Alberola was aiming for them to do. I imagined 2001: A Space Odyssey and Blade Runner homages, but apparently the piece was inspired by the myth of the Sphinx, as depicted in Oedipus Rex, the classic tragedy by Sophocles. As that was about reason's victory over religion, I'm unsure how it applies here. Dry Gulch is far more accessible.

Antedon can be watched for free on Vimeo.

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