Blue (2017) Short Film Review

Maryam Farahzadi Blue 2017

Blue (2017)
Director: Maryam Farahzadi
Screenwriter: Maryam Farahzadi

Maryam Farahzadi’s thought provoking 2D animated short film Blue is a wordless journey of finding acceptance from others and within yourself, the title of the film being the colour of the 4-minute short’s protagonist in her isolated black and white paper-style world.

Seen through the universe of a minimalist and almost children’s storybook style of animation, Blue lends itself to the idea that the very basics of human emotion, such as those illustrated in the film itself – sadness, isolation, regret, anxiety – can be understood at any age, while the picture colours the main protagonist a vibrant Blue in amongst a colourless universe to provide a strong socio-political message regarding the need for greater acceptance in contemporary culture. It’s a structure that lends itself terrifically well to the film’s very short run-time, expressing the themes of isolation, discrimination and (ultimately) acceptance in a clear and definable manner. Blue is absolutely a personal expression of the unfair nature of racism and/or sexism from the point of view of the oppressed, and is therefore a much needed voice in the film landscape at this time.

The clear and easy to define story may be one of Blue’s largest positives, but it does lend itself to awkwardly positioned moments of melodrama that can come across as borderline comedic. The issue isn’t at once apparent, nor will it be clear to all who view the movie, but the animation is at times cut to look and feel like a dark comedy, with quick cuts from wide shots to close-ups being the biggest culprit. The film is littered with these small moments that do reduce the impact of the serious commentary at the heart of the narrative, and this of course has a negative effect on the overall tone of the picture. While Blue blends together the innocence behind the creatively assembled story-book animation and the viciousness of the discrimination in its narrative very effectively, the small issues with the edit do leave some of the piece’s more important emotional moments free to a different interpretation, which is a real shame.

That’s not to say that Blue is at all bad, because it’s not. It’s clear that this picture features a profound passion for the story it’s telling, and that the story itself can be construed to fit the struggles of its audience, whether they be racism, sexism, battles with mental health or the conflicts that people have with their physical health, which gives this 4-minute film a crucial platform from which to be identified with. To achieve this in such a short run time is proof of the ability of those at the helm, their artistic choices from an animation perspective offering a story book feel that is universal in language and therefore inclusive in nature.

Encouraged by an intelligently implemented piano score by Saman Motamed, Blue also makes you feel the message it’s portraying, which is vital to its success as a source of empathy, and the conclusion of the film is filled with the sort of optimism we all wish to be a universal truth – a part of the film that keeps it lingering in your head long after you’ve watched it. It’s like a children’s book come to life!

16/24

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