Most people in their professional lifetimes will have someone say, “Think outside of the box.” If you were to illustrate that concept, Beat would be it. This thesis film from Or Bar-El, of Bezalel Academy of Arts & Design in Israel, explores the concept in its most basic form, from design through execution.
Our box-styled protagonist begins the story by demonstrating his routine along with hundreds of his co-workers; drawing boxes. The rhythm of his actions keep him on task. The simple exercise is interrupted when he pauses for a moment. Camera movement tells the audience that this is a pensive step. His pen falls to the floor. Now, his routine is out of sync. The protagonist is lost in thought. Why did this pen fall? What kind of sound does it make? How does this fit into my routine? This tiny seed of doubt blossoms into a cacophony of movement that motivates jazz style drum beats to occupy his cube.
At first, this change of pace is not welcomed by our protagonist. He struggles to understand why this is happening. Destroying the sound creating objects on his desk does not cure the sporadic beats echoing in his cube. Where is this coming from? He becomes aware that the thumping in his ears is coming from himself. After this realization, he embraces the fire inside and continues his capricious behavior.
Beat is a film that illustrates a homogeneous story with elegant simplicity. In discussing Beat, you need to address the style. The design of the world is quite literal. Boxes drawing boxes in boxes. Character and production design choices here are obvious. This allows the viewer to draw their attention to the grace of the movement. Bar-El uses a stop motion animation style in a CG world. The CG allows for a smooth camera movement to cover the scene while the choppy character animation techniques mimic the soundtrack. He then switches it up during the protagonist’s fantasy sequences, making the movement dynamic and seamless. This contrast is a punctuation between the character’s dueling states of being, and is a testament to Bar-El’s aptitude as a director. Beat is a precociously strong effort for being the director’s a first attempt at 3D. Beat is lovely looking, so it is exciting to imagine what an increase in technical skill to go along with his grasp of design and theme can produce. The future is bright for Or Bar-El.