Love can strike in some unusual places. For some it takes hold in the supermarket, others get hit at work, but for the titular protagonist at the heart of Rune Spaans’ meticulous animation The Absence of Eddy Table, the love bug grips tight on a strange alien planet full of parasitic creatures. A festival favourite based on a character who first appeared in Dave Cooper’s award-winning underground comics series Weasel, Spaans’ film is an energetic 12-minute ride through an exotic world glistening with phallic flowers and libidinous danger.
Despite its title suggesting it may well be the latest live-action hit out of Sundance (prob starring Zach Braff), The Absence of Eddy Table is actually an animated romantic Horror from Norwegian director and 3D specialist Rune Spaans. The tale of a buck-toothed, bug-eyed man ejected into a strange land, via a Mario-esque pipe, this hugely entertaining film combines elements of Science-Fiction and Horror with an exquisitely detailed aesthetic, making it a truly unforgettable modern love story.
Though Spaans’ film is striking in almost every department (they got Mike Patton to “voice” Eddy…MIKE! PATTON!!), it’s hard to discuss the film without focusing on that incredible aesthetic. Having first watched The Absence of Eddy Table at Go Short in early 2017, I was worried those gloriously glossy visuals were a figment of my imagination and perhaps wouldn’t look so vivid online. Fortunately my fears we allayed within the opening 60-seconds of the short.
The character design in Spaans’ short is outstanding, but it’s the attention to detail in the heavily populated backgrounds and landscapes that really stands out. Everything feels so textured, so tangible, that at times you might be fooled into thinking it’s stop-motion that your watching.
“I really wanted a physical and dynamic feel to the film”, Spaans explains in an interview on itoosoft.com. “Animation is such an overly planned technique, it’s really easy for it to end up stale and falling into the same tropes or patterns. I spent a lot of time with cameras and editing trying to make the film feel organic and a bit random. We also used physical cameras, lights and rendering for a realistic look. I love the look of the CinemaScope Panavision lenses, that brought so much to the look of films such as Blade Runner, Alien and Empire Strikes Back, so I went to great lengths to copy that type of lens.”
At times unsettling and always weird, it’s strange to think that the overriding feeling you walk away from The Absence of Eddy Table with is one of saccharine satisfaction. As its odd little antihero makes the ultimate sacrifice for a chance of love, we’re left with more of an “aaaaaah”, than the “uuuuuurgh” you might have expected.