From the moment Geppetto first carved Pinocchio, the idea of a puppet that comes to life has been staple food for storytellers and animators alike. Created by Parktology (five students from Malaysia’s The One Academy of Communication Design), Le Mannequin is the story of a pair of puppets positioned and posed to beautify the front window of a French boutique. Wong Wei Jian, Cheong Tsae Yen, Cheong Kai Yen, Audrey Au E-theng and Chin Shenyin create a charming piece in their depiction of a marriage proposal between two stringless puppets.
There is always an air of sadness about puppets masquerading as humans. The team addresses this phenomena to a point when the young man’s hand falls off at an inopportune moment (as opposed to all the good ones). The young would-be lovers gaze out their shop window set to see a real-life couple embrace in the square after the man has proposed to the girl. This ignites an intention in the puppet man’s head.
The film’s opportunity to communicate a sense of pathos in how dolls view bona fide humans is missed as this film avoids such grandiose claims. Instead, the film’s charm comes through its archetypical character traits: gentle foolery, the over-earnest suitor, and the occasionally coquettish girlfriend. I have covered many student films on my Animation Blog, but this is my first from Malaysia. The 3D work is very competently handled, the characters brightly lit, with clever points of view. What is interesting is the choice of France as a location. We are well used to French movies of charm from such animation establishments as Gobelins L’Ecole de L’Image or Valenciennes’s Supinfocom. Le Mannequin has something of that look, though it owes just as much to the inimitable Pixar style. It’s a genuinely stylish piece with a light touch however, and for those who like happy endings, don’t miss the action as the credits roll.