Broken Saints

Broken Saints
The "animated comic epic” Broken Saints has seen several lives already; first available as web-only comic short films, it takes a pit stop now that the complete epic has been made available on four DVDs before it becomes a feature film, videogame and McDonald’s franchise. (Who knows?) It’s a stunning visual masterpiece, a remarkable melding of ambition, patience and skill made independently by writer/director Brooke Burgess and art director Andrew West. Across a 12-hour narrative, it tells the interlocking stories of Oran, an Iraqi soldier, Raimi, a genius computer programmer, Kamimura, a Buddhist monk and Shandala, a Western girl raised in the South Seas. Through still visuals, wide-ranging cultural and literary references (from Neil Gaiman to Einstein to The Tibetan Book of the Dead) and heavy philosophising, Broken Saints tackles nothing less than global conspiracy and the meaning of life. Those coming to Broken Saints cold might find more to admire than enjoy — the 12-hour-plus narrative is broken into chapters from eight to 20 minutes but getting to the meat of the tale (and the point when all four "saints” finally connect) only takes place at about the halfway point, a long slog through some, at times, fairly pretentious (aiming for portentous) material. It’s worth it only if the journey fascinates you — the disparate threads, the evolution (over time) of the animation techniques, the painterly attention to visual detail. Broken Saints has been souped to the hilt for this DVD issue — voiceover narration has been added and the sound design in particular is top-notch. The entire process (from its inception) is heavily documented in more than five hours of extra material; it’s almost overwhelming in its comprehensive technical detail. But to say that Broken Saints is too much is like complaining that your monstrous backyard pool is too deep — the curious can paddle around in the shallow end and get plenty of enjoyment from Broken Saints as it moves towards its conspiracy-filled, apocalyptic conclusions; those willing to put some time into metaphorical deep sea diving have plenty of opportunity. Plus: commentaries, featurettes, fan films, DVD-Rom features, more. (Fox)