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Director: Jonny Eveson
Screenwriter: Jonny Eveson
Often in the role of entertainment reporter, film comes and goes as a daily occurrence, with some releases being pleasing to the eye and others not so much, but when you watch over 200 films a year, it’s rare that one truly gets under your skin. Jonny Eveson’s Meteorlight was one such film; an animated short that was beautiful to look at and emotional to say the least; a beautiful concoction of atmosphere, stunning visuals, a strong narrative, intricate characterisation and a strongly authored vision – a phenomenal, moving piece that did more for me in 9-10 minutes than almost any other film has managed to do this entire calendar year.
Meteorlight is one of the most passionately constructed projects I’ve seen, the grand scope and spectacle of the picture featuring a level of focus and attention to detail that not only showcased great skill but also a deep-rooted determination to get everything just right. The story is simple enough – a child must disobey his father to do the morally correct thing – but Eveson builds upon the simple narrative with commentary on mindless obedience and most prominently our own society’s reliance upon animal exploitation for individual gain, the moral choice of the central protagonist being whether or not to disobey his father in the name of saving a creature entangled in a machine that takes said creature’s (quite literal) glow and distributes it to the folk in town. It’s a story that acts as a useful metaphor for the meat industry that creates a level of empathy in of itself, but it’s the hero’s journey from want-to-please child to defying his father in the name of a greater good that truly hits the hardest, the beautiful imagery of the main protagonist’s dark matte skin contrasting that of the beautiful glow of the creature in some beautiful but at times equally haunting imagery.
Being a silent film, much of the weight of the story falls onto the animation itself, something Eveson’s work carries with great sophistication. The characterisation of the three most central characters is splendid for example, each being entirely different in so many ways yet all believably of the same world, everything about the way they move illustrating
their motivations, positions in relation to one another’s status and their role in the story. The central character is presented with such an innocence through minor adjustments from his more questionable father figure, the artistically designed creature seeming not too dissimilar to the most adorable of children. It doesn’t seem forced either, as Meteorlight isn’t a picture that demands empathy towards the character but instead softly encourages it, allowing for a moment to take in the spectacle of the world Eveson has built before pulling you into the weight of the narrative.
It’s 10 minutes of awe-inspiring beauty that truly appeals to the visual sense; a successful creation of a universe entirely mappable within your own mind and seemingly lived in thanks to the smallest attention to detail from the animator himself. The town is brutal, futuristic and industrial all at once but the level of detail is truly astonishing, while the characters are much more modern in design – their appearances perfectly encapsulating the emotion of the human face while remaining entirely artistic in their own right. You truly feel the size and scope of this universe, and vitally a sense of attachment to the voiceless characters at the centre of it, an element of the viewing process encouraged by the beautifully constructed score that accompanies Eveson’s canvas of visuals.
The orchestral music, composed by Blair Mowat, is an element of the film worth mentioning in of itself, the work in this regard helping to push the emotion of the piece at several key stages while maintaining a tone throughout that gifts the film the feeling of being like a Ballet, the characters each floating along to the music and the score’s major tones changing per the characters’ intentions. This wonderful marriage of the sometimes magical sounds of the score with some rich and epic sound effects, and the atmospheric visual material, is entirely encompassing of the delightful piece of art created by Eveson and his collaborators on this picture.
Meteorlight is a truly magnificent animated short that puts the “passion” in “passion project” – a piece of cinema indicative of a filmmaker with an immense talent for his craft as well as the imagination and innocence needed to pull it off with such great feeling. This is a picture with classic elements conducted through a modern eye, the epitome of what animation should always reach to be, a simply phenomenal…