Friday, December 31, 2010

The Lady And The Reaper Wraps 2010

ReaperEarlier this year, at the Academy Awards, Spanish director Javier Recio Gracia with Kandor Moon surprised many people by becoming a definitive Oscar contender. It was the first time Spain had ever entered a stylishly engaging short film, The Lady And The Reaper.

Although the short didn't win an Oscar, the nomination demonstrated just how far Spanish animation had come. It also demonstrated how far Gracia had some since entering the industry only five years ago.

He now works with DreamWorks Animation. He was hired in July, shortly after finishing work as a storyboarder and character designer for Goleor: The Scale And The Sword, which was also produced by Kandor Graphics.

A Bit About The Lady And The Reaper.

If you haven't seen the animated short, a story inspired after Gracia spent time with his grandmother, it's well worth the eight-minute run time. The Lady And The Reaper is the story of an old woman who lives alone on a farm, missing her husband and longing for the end of her life. Once that day comes, she even holds out her hand for the reaper to carry her away.

Javier Recio GraciaExcept, sometimes death, much like life, isn't so easy. The old woman is ripped away from the reaper at the last possible minute, being "saved" by an infamous doctor already renown for keeping the woman alive well past her prime.

After the initial resurrection, a battle between the doctor and reaper breaks out, with the life and death of the woman hanging in the balance. While most reviewers cast the doctor as being smug, I don't see it as arrogance as much as confidence. Similar battles play out all over the world, every second of every day.

For every moment of familiarity, there is something uniquely original.

The story invests a significant amount of time on a climatic three-minute chase scene reminiscent of classic Looney Tunes, of which Gracia has said he was paying homage. So there are times the treatment feels almost cliche, especially as the doctor, nurses, and reaper play a game of hide and seek among an infinite collection of file cabinets. And again, running up and down hills and stairs and crashing down one like a giant snowball. Amazingly though, these classic prats still seem to work here.

Many Americans have called the film darkly comic or dark humor. It seems more fitting to call it a comedic treatment of death. Recognizing this will give you all the more appreciation of what Gracia is trying to accomplish. Death doesn't always have to be foreboding. It can be a welcomed journey as well.

Incidentally, one of the most humorous aspects of Gracia's work comes after the credits start to roll. The reaper, temporarily beaten, heads home after a long day of hard work. Gracia has him arriving by boat across the river Styx and being greeted by his three-headed poodle Cerberus. After docking, he casually uses a remote to lock it up with a familiar "beep-beep."

The Lady And The Reaper Is A Cut Above With 6.4 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale.

There is something special about this short animated film, originally shown in 3-D. And it also seems an especially fitting way to end 2010. Everything, sooner or later, needs to be let go, 2010 included. Happy New Year!

The Lady And The Reaper is available in standard and high definition on iTunes. You can also visit The Lady And The Reaper site and production blog, which occasionally updates 3-D showings and includes the complete credit list of everyone involved.
blog comments powered by Disqus