Reviewing animations for my daily blog I’m still amazed by the 3D realism animators can achieve. Faces and movements are so darn realistic. Sometimes one needs to rest a while, to luxuriate in the less high tech enjoyment of a genuine artist experimenting within the medium of animation. Made in 1990, a lifetime away for today’s technologically adept students in the animation schools, Canadian director Caroline Leaf etched her images onto exposed and tinted 70 mm film for her masterpiece, Two Sisters.
The ten minute movie opens as a lone swimmer makes his way to an island in the “wide blue sea where people hide away”. Caroline uses a rich blue emulsion here though the next frames are engraved onto black as we meet the two reclusive sisters, Marie and Viola Ge. Seated in darkness, to the background sound of a ticking clock, family cat and Viola’s typewriter, the pair converse. Marie is clearly the dominant one. The entry of the stranger fresh from the sea throws the women into panic. Viola’s talent for writing compensates for a facial disfigurement, though the meeting with her greatest fan changes the dynamics of the home. The elder sister has hidden Viola from the outside world and fights to continue her role as protector. Harsh words are spoken, the fragile harmony of the island broken.
Using the visual themes of light and dark, this richly allegorical tale has dialogue written by Grant Heisler that resonates with symbol and inference. The gradual unraveling of the women’s situation is paralleled by the light forcing its way into their previously dark world, in a classic animation that is both compelling drama and work of art.