The External World
They say that variety is the spice of life. In a continuing attempt to embrace that variety here with One Movie Each Day, I’ve decided to dedicate each Wednesday review to the stranger side of cinema, the type of movies that I’d never normally watch, but that I’m kind of secretly glad exist. In celebration or in condemnation of the eccentric, the odd, the freaky, the kinky, the ghastly, the freaky, the fearful, the flaky, and the freaky, I this, the twentieth, (and by God is it ever a weird one,) edition of Wednesday Weirdness.
What the… ?
Since I started Wednesday Weirdness I’ve watched some strange films, but nothing I’ve seen before has been as utterly and unabashedly bizarre as today’s movie, The External World. The animated short by David O’Reilly is really something else.
I honestly don’t even know where to begin. The film, animated using minimalist, almost video-game style computer graphics is actually kind of beautiful, but its plot, if it can be said to have one, defies description. The official synopsis simply states; “A boy learns to play the piano.” This is definitely something that happens in the movie, but there’s so much more.
The film feels like a steam of consciousness summary of ideas, and if these are the kind of ideas and images streaming through O’Reilly’s mind he must be a very interesting person indeed. Familiar entertainment properties, character archetypes, and tragic/comedic/violent plot elements all combine, weaving in and out of one-another. Sometimes elements merge, sometimes they pass through a scene like ships in the night. It’s all delightfully, and completely weird.
Visually the film employs a deliberately low-res CGI aesthetic, but the framing, and camera moves create a legitimate cinematic feel. Different scenes and characters are animated in totally different styles, yet they still feels like part of the whole.
It’s been a little over twelve hours since I watched this film, and in a way I’m still trying to figure it out. It may simply be meaningless nonsense, images strung together like moths flitting through a light. On the other hand it has made me think, and that’s not something that every film can do. Watching The External World was definitely an experience, and not a bad one. Some of the imagery is a little disturbing, and this cartoon is certainly not for kids, but I do think that it’s worth seeing.