Monday, May 29

The most beautiful love (and loss) story in Cannes is between a robot and a dog

A few months ago, when Guillermo del Toro collected the Oscar for Best Animated Film for his stop motion version of the Pinocchio story, he was reminded of something that many directors always claim: animation is not a genre, but a technique. The predominance of children’s and family films made with it, and the fact that it has its own category in the awards that means that it is almost excluded from the rest of the categories, has meant that for many animation is something like the western, or the music, a genre with its own rules and codes.

Irrefutable proof of this as Waltz with Bashir either persepolis, now joins the Spanish Robot Dreams, the first incursion of Pablo Berger (director of Snow White) in the animation that has been presented in an official screening of the Cannes Film Festival. Berger’s adaptation of the graphic novel by Sara Varón shows that it was the perfect technique to tell the love story (of whatever kind) between a robot and a dog in 80s New York. A beautiful, tender film , which causes a smile to later realize that Berger has taken advantage of the charm of his drawings to cast a story about love, but also about loss. About the need to let the other person go. All speechless. A silent film but with sounds and a contagious soundtrack.

It was impossible to have done this version if it wasn’t in animation. Berger made it clear that when he decided to make the film he did not see “another way to do it, because the protagonists were anthropomorphic animals.” The first time he read the source material it hadn’t even shot Snow White. It was 2010. “It happened to me, as many people usually do with this book, that when they pick it up it is a children’s book, but as you discover the story you realize that there is a lot of humor, that there is a lot of emotion, that there is a lot of complexity and that it has an exceptional and devastating third act. At the end of the graphic novel, I was moved. It happened to me like with those novels that you arrive in the last 30 pages and your lip trembles, ”he explained from the French contest.

The novel remained there, parked, and after Abra CadabraLooking for ideas for his new film, he remembered that book that had moved him so much. He takes the opportunity to clearly agree with Guillermo del Toro, and stresses that since 2008 no animated film has competed for the Palme d’Or. “This is a symptom that animation is not taken seriously. Animation is not a genre, the genre is comedy, drama, thriller. Animation is a medium. Animation is a way of telling that instead of using a camera we use drawings. So I think that the ‘animation genre’ label should be removed now, and that can help to be taken seriously. If you pay attention, the real image directors that we have tried in animation, we repeat. Fernando Trueba, Wes Anderson, Richard Linklater… The leap from live action to animation in my case has been natural, and I think that live action directors should take it into account”.

The beautiful love story between Dog and Robot, as they are called, some anthropomorphic characters in which their gender or sexual condition is never made explicit, has moved people, causing unbeatable international criticism and the sale of the film to Neon, the US distributor in charge of phenomena. Like the ones of Parasites, Triangle of sadness either flee and of his career for the Oscar. For Berger, success also means that it is “an open film in which the viewer can actively make it their own and reflect. It is a story that a child can see about friendship, but an adult will see it about the couple, and another person about the loss of a loved one.

It was clear to him that this anthropomorphism made him play with a very rich concept of diversity. “You don’t know the races, the genders, although sometimes you do see some characters that are of a certain gender, but there are many who don’t know what gender they are; and he wanted to make a film for any viewer of any race, any gender, any way of thinking, a very open film and Leto be an element of visual poetics. There is a poetics where the spectator is going to make it his own in an active way, and the fact that she is mute helps that. That is something that I had already discovered when doing Snow White, because more than a narrative film it was an experience, and I would like to think that Robot Dreams, that I take it as a sister film of Snow White, it is also one ”.

He sees the silent film as something natural, and remembers that in all his films there are very few dialogues. “Torremolinos 73 either Abra Cadabra they have very little dialogue, very little. There are sequences in Abracadabra where there can be ten minutes without dialogue. Writing with images is what interests me the most. I think that is what makes cinema unique. Obviously there are directors who write wonderful dialogues. I love Tarantino, I don’t want to say that you only have to make films without words, but it is true that there are many films where a lot of dialogue is left over and that, if a friend of mine came to me with his script, I would possibly cross out many of his dialogues ”, he says between laughs.

Robot Dreams also stands out for its animated design of New York. It is noted that Berger has lived there for ten years with his partner Yuko Harami. “We wanted to do a love letter to New York, so there’s an element of nostalgia. A New York that no longer exists, that is not the New York of today. Fortunately or unfortunately. I think unfortunately, because globalization makes all the big cities look much more alike. But I can assure you that I lived in the 90s and I was in New York in the 80s and it was the capital of the economic world, and culturally it was the city where you had to be. So we set out to give it that prominence that is not in the book”.

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