Renaissance (2006) movie poster

(2006) dir. Christian Volckman
viewed: 08/19/07

This film was playing in England last year when I was there and then took its time to get to the states.  It’s French, though for the English language release, they got voice talent, including Daniel Craig, to rework the dialogue.  Dubbing is not a preferred thing for me, but doesn’t bother me with animation.  Animation is all dubbed anyways.  Fair enough.

The big thing about this film is its visual style.  The result is vaguely like Richard Linklater what used in Waking Life (2001) and A Scanner Darkly (2006), in which is a motion human motion is “drawn onto”.  The style in Linklater’s films is more like painting on top of a filmed image, whereas in Renaissance, it’s motion capture at the core of the animation.  The film’s style is a huge step beyond that, a stark black-and-white, that is literally black and white…hardly a shade of gray.  The high-contrast images, stylized and often striking, take the lead in this film, a semi-sci fi hard-boiled narrative about an evil corporation (are there any other kind?) and genetic research project that could essentially change the world.

When it gets down to it, the story is “okay”, but not thrilling.  The animation style distances one from the characters.  With half or more of their faces in shadow or almost abstracted by the contrasts, one doesn’t connect to what ultimately has an intended emotional core.  The film doesn’t really make any critiques or anything of great depth.  Actually, it ends up being really completely surface.  It’s the visual that does all the work, draws all the attention, keeps the tension and mood (which are pretty straight-forward narrative techniques and musical scoring) from having an impact.

When all is said and done, it’s not bad.  Linklater’s films, which the more I think about it are actually quite different when you boil down the technique of production, seek more significant questions and are more interesting and challenging.  Not that there are any other immediate parallels than these animated films use human motion for the bulk of the movement portrayed in the imagery.

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