Indie Animation Tracks a Black Cat’s Incredible Journey

Indie Animation Tracks a Black Cat’s Incredible Journey

An adorable black cat with luminous amber eyes fends for itself in “Flow,” snatching a fish from a pack of distracted mutts and dashing off with its loot while the dogs chase just a few seconds behind. Visionary animator Gints Zilbalodis’ virtual camera swoops after the cat, revealing a crisp, computer-generated world where humans are oddly absent, but their influence can be acutely felt.

Perhaps that explains what happens next, as a near-biblical flood of water — which may well be the result of manmade climate change, though Zilbalodis never specifies — brings a herd of wild animals stampeding in its direction. The cat’s ears flatten, and it crouches low to the ground, much like “The Lion King” did in that film’s iconic wildebeest scene, as a giant wave comes thundering after the deer. Seconds later, the forest is underwater, and the cat is desperately trying to stay afloat. (The deer seem to have disappeared entirely, as things tend to do in a film that remains doggedly committed to its lead cat.)

This impressive opening shot lasts more than four minutes and simply wouldn’t be possible in live action for as many reasons as a cat has whiskers. Even with the use of drones, cameras can’t move as nimbly through space as Zilbalodis whisks us, achieving an instant kinship between audiences and his feline protagonist. But there’s also the obvious fact that no filmmaker could train animal actors to do what Zilbalodis’ imagination…

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The post “Indie Animation Tracks a Black Cat’s Incredible Journey” by Peter Debruge was published on 06/16/2024 by