Welcome witches and warlocks,
Today I will be reviewing the dream like animated feature BIRDBOY: THE FORGOTTEN CHILDREN by writer/directors Pedro Rivero and Alberto Vazquez. Given that I cannot find a decent and succinct plot description anywhere, I am going to free style my own:
On an island partially destroyed by an industrial accident and divided by class, the legendary Birdboy struggles with his own heroic identity. While Birdboy tries to stay afloat under the pressure, his old friend Dinky is trying to escape the island to a better world.
I am going to start out by saying; I loved the minimalist look of this feature. There was something so beautiful about the simplicity of the character designs and backgrounds that I was hooked from the get go. Even with this animation approach, the world crafted had vibrancy to it on par with some of the great cartoons of yesteryear. It was refreshing to see such different, yet beautiful, style used to tell this very abstract story.
I found the proceedings to have an engrossing dream like quality that kept me wanting to see more. While there is a definite overall story, I felt that this was more about the experience and visuals than about having an actual plot. Even if every character introduced does not propel the story forward, each of them has their own thematic element in the overall tapestry of the film. This methodology has led to a movie that can examine social, political, and relational topics in a fashion not usually seen in animated fare.
Given the massive amounts of themes portrayed, I could return to this film again and discover something entirely different than my first time through. There is a certain ambiguity to some of what happens that still has my mind thinking. The experimental nature feels like an amalgamation of the works of David Lynch by way of the more succinct and accessible movie The Triplets of Belleville (2003). The fact that they are able to examine things like the relationship between parent and child, drug abuse, class issues, fallen heroes, escapism, and environmentalism in just about seventy five minutes is enough to make one’s head spin. Never mind the many different issues and subplots I did not bother to focus on or examine this time through.
I think the biggest hurdle this feature is going to face is that it is hard to describe to people who have not seen it yet. Even with all I have written above, I feel as if my words have not even begun to capture the experiential nature of this piece. Luckily, with the Blu-ray release it comes with some special features that may help in dissecting the film a bit more. The Blu-ray includes an interview with co-director Pedro Rivero and Alberto Vázquez along with the original short film, BIRDBOY, and Alberto Vázquez other short film, DECORADO. Those who keep themselves open will find their hearts and minds implanted with so many different feelings and ideas it almost feels as if an epic journey has been undertaken. Once I reached the end of the trail, I was left with what I can only describe as a sense of wonder at all that had passed before.
All in all, no amount of explaining is going to correctly portray the oddly emotional ride this film ends up being. From the beautifully minimalist art to the multifaceted story, one can practically feel the passion that was put into crafting this movie. Those who want something wholly original with a lot of layers and subtext should give this a try as this is the sort of art that has a real staying power.
BIRDBOY: THE FORGOTTEN CHILDREN is now available on Blu-ray and DVD from Shout Factory and GKIDS.