With the 2019 batch of GOBELINS, l’école de l’image films being released online over the last couple of months, we’ve bided our time and waited for the best of the bunch to hit the internet, before diving into what the prestigious French school has to offer this year. Featuring a complex aesthetic, unique style and expansive storyline, Déjeuner sur l’herbe (Lunch on the grass) is the standout short from these recent releases.
Exploring themes of science, religion and alien life, Déjeuner sur l’herbe centres around a “brilliant” scientist who finds his whole perspective on life falling apart after an unexpected encounter during a picnic by a lake. Having built his career and fame around skepticism, his life loses all meaning and he’s left a broken man by this experience that challenges all he’s stood for.
Having covered a range of subjects, from climate change to gender identity, with last year’s films, it should come as no surprise that this Gobelins short once again shatters preconceptions about student films with its mature, layered storyline.
Tackling some grand themes within its seven minute run-time, Déjeuner sur l’herbe doesn’t come across as a film by someone without the life-experience to examine its subject matter. It’s a surprisingly nuanced look at some of the questions that usually plague our thoughts as we get older – is there a God? What’s the meaning of life? What does that toilet graffiti really mean?
If the narrative complexity of the short comes as somewhat of a surprise, the stunning craft on show really shouldn’t. We’ve come to expect these Gobelins films to deliver on style and Déjeuner sur l’herbe feels like it raises the bar from all that has come before it. With every scene feeling like it cause be paused and screen-printed out as a poster, this is an impeccably designed piece featuring a perfect palette and playful character design (the size of those heads!). Again the aesthetic of the film delivers a maturity you don’t normally expect to find in a student production.
Déjeuner sur l’herbe may be our favourite from this year’s batch, but there’s plenty of diversity in the rest of the films if it doesn’t suit your taste in animation. Protocole Sandwich and In Orbit deliver a slice of stylish sci-fi French productions seem to have a flair for (see last year’s Best Friend for another example), Killing Time presents a little family-friendly fun with its playful depiction of time and Blind Eye is a must watch for any fans of The Handmaid’s Tale.