A Review of Flatland

Art films.  You know, for kids.
This is perhaps as close as we will ever get to a children’s art film.  It is a wonderful farce, masterfully executed, that actually funny.  It is also important in that it showcases just what computer animation can do.  This film was made entirely by one individual.  This is key…I believe this method will continue to pop up time and time again.  This is not the sort of film that will revolutionize animation overnight.  It will grow overtime.

The film follows A Square.  That is not just his name; that is also his geometric shape. You see, Mr Square (I am not actually which is his surname) lives in the second dimension.  Their world is only perceived in two dimensions.  Children are taught how to identify the people by the edges of their shape.  There is also a caste system, in which the more circular people are the rulers.  There also geometric shapes that demand the right to be able to change colors, and….but see for yourself. The opening acts are brilliant enough on their own and the castes they describe can still be seen in today’s world.

But then the film throughs a giant curve ball.  A Square is taken to the world of three dimensions.  These scenes are brilliant in their simplicity.  The animation looks like a demo from 1995.  Yet A Square’s reaction to the whole item is one of awe and wonder.  He treats the creatures there as gods and then is picked to spread the “gospel” of the third dimension.
First, this sense of awe can be applied to the whole process of the making of the film itself.  When one man sets to create an entire animated film himself.  Of course it will not be on par with Pixar. Such a film requires hundreds of people.  The results here look like the work of one man.  But what work one man can accomplish!  It manages to still come alive and the audience feels that sense of wonder.
Second, the material has aged wonderfully, in the sense that it has not aged at all.  The film manages to be funny without ever going over anyone’s head.  That is not to say the film was compromised.  Far from it.  It manages to be clever and accessible all at once.  Too many art films fail in this regard.  They are virtually impenetrable.  Watching them becomes more of an ordeal than anything else.  It is little wonder why so many flee from them.  But they are worthwhile in many regards.  This is the perfect film to introduce anyone to art films.

I have used the term art film several times in this review.  Does this really deserve to be considered an art film? What is an art film anyway?  The second question would take far longer to address that space allows.  But this definitely does belong in the tradition of art film.  It is the work of one man throwing his passions into the film.  This was as much the result of the filmmaker’s dreams as the work on which it was based.  Any other production simply would not have sufficed.   In addition, the film explores themes not usually found in this sort of production.  It is not merely about dimensions.  It is about religion, about philosophy, and above all, about revolution.  For a simple little animated film, that’s quite a bit of ground to cover.  Yet is does so with great precision, barely stopping to pause between it’s points.  The professionalism of such an approach is one to be deeply admired.

This is almost perfect in what films should be.  It is a feast for the imagination and may very well drive up the IQ during its running time.  It cannot be recommended enough.

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