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Simple, thoughtful fable with lush & vivid art
on February 16, 2014
The world of The Painting is a riot of color & imagination -- but not all of its inhabitants are complete. The Alldunns are finished figures, opulent & very full of themselves & their sense of natural superiority; the Halfies, lacking some color, are second-class citizens; and the poor Sketchies, little more than rough line drawings, are fair game for the cruelty of the Alldunns. Thus far, an obvious allegory of social status, as well as a satire of religious snobbery & intolerance, as evidenced by the leader of the Alldunns, the Great Chandelier, who claims The Painter is never coming back & thus he, the Great Chandelier, should speak for Him.
But what happens when a young man of the Alldunns falls in love with a lovely Halfie girl?
Since this isn't a Hollywood film, the story takes some unexpected turns. The young Alldunn is determined to find The Painter -- but when he flees through the Forbidden Forest of the Death Flowers, it's not with his beloved, but with her best friend, as well as a Sketchie. And when they emerge from The Painting into The Painter's studio, some interesting philosophical & theological questions are raised. The love story is a real plot thread, but an increasingly minor one as the film progresses.
I won't spoil the rest of the story for anyone. Instead, let me praise this beautifully animated film for actually making inventive use of computer graphics, not to mention its welcome lack of fleeting pop culture references. The only culture referenced here is the rich history of painting. While certainly an all-ages film, there's no dumbing down for children, who are given credit for being intelligent viewers along with the adults. And the final scene is pleasingly inconclusive & open-ended, as is life itself for anyone who seeks his or her own answers to the Big Questions.
For anyone who wants something different in the way of animated films, this is a fine place to start -- highly recommended!