Published Jan 14, 2013While the mainstream is likely familiar with the video for the Sigur Ros song, "fjögur píanó," what with its brief exposure of Shia LaBeouf's manhood, the rest of the short films from the Valtari experiment—wherein a handful of filmmakers were given a modest sum of money to make a film about their assigned track—received little exposure.
Seraph, an amalgamation of "Rembihnútur" and "Ekki Múkk" released in the middle of the experiment, was written by Rabbit Hole and Hedwig and the Angry Inch director John Cameron Mitchell and features the animation and direction of his long-time collaborator, Dash Shaw. Animated in a style familiar to those that have seen Mitchell's roster of films, it tells the story of a young boy repressed by religion, made to feel ashamed of his body and his desires, who grows up believing that the ultimate sin would be to acknowledge a love and beauty the world could never understand.
Detailing the pains of self-loathing through the routine carving of eyeballs into his flesh, the boy grows into a man with a violent disposition, compensating for homosexual feelings by resorting to acts of aggression and defence.
Anchored by the ambient sounds of "seraph," this slow-building, quiet and immensely moving story works as a powerful emotional journey during its brief runtime, transcending the medium and communicating the evils of forced morality with carefully chosen imagery. Few feature films manage to conjure up this sort of intensity that this animated short managed to pull off in just seven-minutes.
It's fortunate that this haunting tale is being given another life at the Sundance Film Festival, playing in the Animation Spotlight program for an audience that might not think to seek out a Sigur Ros video online. (Valtari Experiment)