See it on the biggest screen you can.

You have never seen anything like it.  This I promise.

Required viewing for anyone with an interest in the art of animation.

The story is a sci-fi noir not unlike Blade Runner or Minority Report (but without the Dickian moral complexities); the look recalls Sin City but more styized (ironically, it looks more like a Frank Miller graphic novel come to life than that movie did) and the visuals are absolutely mind-blowingly staggering.  Without exaggeration, I would say that there are more fresh ideas and  innovations in any given three minutes of this film than there are in most other entire animated features.

Made me believe that there is still something new to say in the art form of film, that we haven’t quite reached the boundaries of this medium.

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11 Responses to “Renaissance”
  1. ghostgecko says:

    Is this new?

    >>>I would say that there are more fresh ideas and innovations in any given three minutes of this film than there are in most other entire animated features.

    Considering homegrown animated features lately have consisted entirely of Pixar-wannabes and that Keanu Reeves movie that looked like the cell phone commercial from a few years back, this is damning with faint praise. Animated shorts are one thing, but the audience for animated features is considered so limited (in America, at least) we hardly ever get anything that’s not kiddie fodder. I’d like to see something like a full-length Svankmajer, good old gruesome hand-made animation with no dancing, singing toasters.

    • Todd says:

      Renaissance is brand new, opened in March in France and yesterday here in Los Angeles.

      As limited as the audience for animated features is the US, the audience for animated shorts is essentially nonexistent.

      A Scanner Darkly, which had a different set of script problems, used rotoscoping to get its effects. Renaissance uses mocap against cgi backgrounds, putting it technically closer to The Polar Express, the difference being that the tone is adult, the textures are utterly different (veering wildly from photo-realistic to Mignola-esque simplicity) and the palette is extreme black-and-white (so black-and-white that when the occasional grey shows up, it’s actually startling).

      There are, of course, full-length Svankmejers to behold on our nations movie screens, but they’re by Svankmejer and therefore don’t get much of a release ’round these parts.

      The problem is, of course, economic. Where Svankmejer comes from, there is, I’m guessing, money from the government to support the arts. So an artist like Svankmejer will emerge from time to time. Here in the US, animation directors are trained from the beginning that if they want their ideas to reach an audience, they have to think in broad-based commercial terms or be damned to the festival circuit. I have no idea how much Renaissance cost (it looks like it cost a little less than Polar Express, which would put it around $150,000,000, but what do I know), but there are something like eight or ten different producers and distributors listed above the title, so I can tell that it took a lot of salesmanship even in France, where there is a strong effort to create Franco-centric homemade entertainment made on a level to compete with Hollywood.

      • popebuck1 says:

        Where’s it playing here in LA? I didn’t hear anything about this one!

        • Todd says:

          I saw it at the Nuart on Santa Monica next to the 405. Nice big screen and the theater is newly remodeled. They now sell delicious caramel corn in the lobby now too.

      • ghostgecko says:

        Well, hopefully it’ll come to DC at some point. LA is a *bit* of a long drive for me, no matter how good the film is.

        A Scanner Darkly just looked awful. Except for that one bit with the demon, it didn’t seem like it really needed to be animated (which I think you mentioned, too). And it didn’t look animated, just like a crappy circa 1989 video effect. Utterly pointless. Polar Express I didn’t see, but the bits of it I saw looked extraordinarily creepy – the Uncanny Valley effect. They’re using mocap for the “Beowulf” movie upcoming and they claim to have licked the corpse-stare problem. We shall see.

        I keep my fingers crossed for Svankmajer on the big screen. That must be amazing. I’ve only ever seen him on the tube. Of course it’s economic – everything is, unless you’re independantly wealthy. The money goes where the safe bet is, tho, which is the sad part.

      • Todd says:

        it looks like it cost a little less than Polar Express, which would put it around $150,000,000, but what do I know

        What do I know indeed. Box Office Mojo puts the budget at $18 million — about half the cost of Sin City. It just looks like it cost $150 million.

  2. r_sikoryak says:

    The reviews that complained about the lame story had dissuaded me from going, but I’ll try to catch it.

    I like Dickian moral complexities!

    • Todd says:

      The reviews that complained about the lame story almost dissuaded me too, but I’m glad I went. I thought it was going to be like a lot of other French sci-fi spectaculars, where the story would be incoherent. As it is, it’s just kind of a standard sci-fi noir plot (a Detective With A Past stumbles upon a Conspiracy That Reaches The Highest Corridors Of Power, whilst falling in love with The Missing Girl’s Sister, etc), but enough to carry the jaw-dropping visuals.